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Standard Work by Product Family in High-Variability Production Line

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  • #249001

    Firasath Syed
    Participant

    Is it possible to create a standard work by product class? I am looking to create standard work for a product which goes through various processing stations before it becomes the final product. Also, this process follows batch processing, so there is waiting time, walking time.

    I have learned that cycle time and takt time are important pieces in standard work, but when the takt time is not constant, i.e. in a high variability production line where some orders can take higher precedence than others, how do you establish takt time and accurately track cycle time for a product that goes through multiple work stations? In such cases do you not count the waiting time between processes?

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    #249121

    Chris
    Participant

    My previous job faced a similar challenge with high variability in product flows. One line had over 15000 variances that could include abnormal processes for select products. The processes were very hands on and standard work was crucial with figuring out the correct staffing for each line and having a good standard work base.

    How we tackled it:

    We had a Kaizen event and determined three flows for easy/medium/complex parts. Most of these had similarities and then defined ones that fell outside the criteria. Standard work was then made for each complexity level. The next challenge was sharing operators amongst complexities and we came up with a sheet to manage these. It looked at stacking bars from various jobs so in turn operator A would do 30 A parts, 20 B parts at operation A and then 30 A parts at operation B.

    Each complexity had its own takt time and then a takt for the line as whole was determined by those.  This is just a high level look at what worked for us. If you have more questions I can help with those.

    Also for waiting time, are you talking about operator or equipment waiting time?

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    #249145

    Gordon Paisley
    Participant

    @firasathsfa: Chris has a great observation here. It may be a bit premature to be concerned about the mechanics of measuring cycle time and determining takt time when there is probably greater value in completing process mapping first and then looking at value stream mapping to get into more of the detail.  It’s hard to tell from your brief question if this work has already been done and if the fist-pass ‘easy’ work has been done.

    Also, and perhaps even more critically and fundamentally, what is the problem statement? What is the metric that is not being met in this process today? You will want to make sure you are solving the right problem. I’m interested to hear more.

    Gordon

     

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    #249148

    Firasath Syed
    Participant

    @Cshelley @gpaisley1 Thanks Chris and Gordon. The problem statement is that the company does not have any standards, i.e. there has never been any cycle time study done, no labor standards, and other standards required to establish KPI’s. It has always been a push system and it worked. The company makes a variety of office task chairs, 80% of the orders are single piece orders from individual customers (hence variability), and 20% are large orders.

    Now when I initially asked the question, I was looking to establish standard work for each product class for the entire product flow (product flow through 5 departments). Now when I think about it and similar to what Chris has mentioned, it would be easier and better to establish takt time and create standard work for each complexity (department). This will help me establish how much time does it take an operator at station A to make product X.

    Initially when I joined this company I wanted to create a process map and value stream map, but was not sure if it would add value at this stage, since the company is in its very initial stages of lean implementation with little interest from management.

    Also, how important is a standard work/WI when there are well trained, seasoned operators who need little to no help referring work instructions or standard work, and when a newly hired operator is given hands on training? How is it supposed to help? In my past experiences, I have seen WI’s and standard work on the production floor collect dust.

    Thanks.

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    #249149

    Gordon Paisley
    Participant

    @firasathsfa:  Ah, it sounds like you have a different category of problem, less about the technical aspects and more about people.  In my opinion, the absence of Standard Work/WI isn’t a problem statement since there is no “so what” to it.  Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that there is almost certainly more variation in your process and opportunity for process improvement than any of the manufacturing team or leadership may recognize, but that fact won’t get you anywhere by itself.

    I’m a believer that without a ‘burning platform’ there won’t be much interest in anyone making any changes.

    I also believe that takt time and cycle time are–in and of themselves–probably not meaningful to anyone, especially when 80% of your manufacturing is to order for one-offs.  Just curious, are these products made from scratch, or are they assembled or configured from a set of parts (e.g. combine a base with a seat with a back with a choice of armrests with different wheels and colors)?

    Do you have people waiting for orders to come in and then jump up to complete each order on a first-in-first-out basis or is there a daily schedule built from a backlog of orders?  it may be helpful to look up the Hayes-Wheelwright Matrix as a way to ensure your manufacturing strategy/process is properly matched to your product mix and demand.

    You mentioned there is little interest in lean from management.  I’m sure there is a lot of interest from management in money.  You will need to determine where the process is losing money and then use that as your entree to management to get their engagement–otherwise, you risk wasting everyone’s time and hurting your credibility with both management and the manufacturing floor–you’ll need engagement from both to be successful.

    Gordon

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    #249150

    Firasath Syed
    Participant

    @gpaisley1 I completely agree that unless there is a burning problem that impacts/stops production, there wont be much interest from the management team. One of the major challenges is the on time delivery of supplier parts which has been a recurring, ongoing issue for months, but nothing much has been done to remedy this issue. Production managers have learned to deal with it, and often pull other orders from backlog of orders that have all parts available. But to your point, I have already started working to remedy these problems so that there is less fire fighting and more savings from improving processes.

    There are supplier parts and a fair amount of production processes before assembly, ex: cutting, sewing, wood prep, upholstery, assembly, packaging. Although there is variability/mix (different product families), they all follow the same process with little to no changeover required. So there is no major disruptions (changeovers) in the process from one product to another product.

    I will be creating standard work for each process (department) by product type, and will let you know how it goes.

    Thanks for the feedback.

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