Visionary Products Introduces a Simulation for Sub-Assembly Designed for Companies Producing Complex Products by Steve Willett

SOUTHLAKE, Texas, Aug. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Visionary Products, Inc., a creator of hands-on simulations that teach Lean Practices, announced today the launch of Lean Zone® Sub-Assembly.

The new simulation addresses difficulties that companies face when manufacturing complex products where the assembly of the product occurs in different areas of the factory before reaching final assembly.

"Many times, there is miscommunication between separate workstations and final assembly," said Michael Deese, the President and founder of Visionary Products. "This leads to final assembly waiting on parts to inspect and assemble.  The miscommunication causes an increase in scrap and work-in-progress. It is very inefficient, putting pressure on the company's bottom line."

The Lean Zone Sub-Assembly simulation helps management and workers understand the importance of synchronized scheduling, cellular design, and visual controls in the work place. The simulation also incorporates quick changeover, one-piece flow, and utilizes quality at the source.  All Lean Zone simulations are designed for use by in-house facilitators without the need for a consultant, and come with a facilitator guide which includes all the information that is needed to run the simulation.  Experts agree that hands-on training, also known as experiential training enhances the ability of trainees to grasp concepts and improve processes.

"These lean tools have been used for many years, but unless your team actually understands them and incorporates them into your day to day activities, you aren't very lean," said Steve Willett, Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Visionary Products. "The Sub-Assembly simulation can bridge the gap between ideas and reality in your organization."

The simulation takes place in a fictional helicopter factory where five different sub-assemblies are produced in different areas of the factory. Demand is high but the waste of time, money, and non-value-added activities are keeping the factory from maximum performance. The simulation demonstrates how to redesign the factory with all five sub-assemblies feeding directly into final assembly with fully synchronized scheduling.  With the help of seven participants and a few hours a team can overcome common problems seen in modern factories and create new ideas.

Those who benefit from the Lean Zone Sub-Assembly simulation include:

  • CEO's/ Business Owners
  • Ground Level Employees 
  • Operation Managers
  • Continuous Improvement Managers
  • Supply Chain Coordinators

For details about the Lean Zone Sub-Assembly simulation or the company's 60-day risk free guarantee, visit www.lean-zone.com or email rel="nofollow">sales@lean-zone.com.  

About Visionary Products, Inc.

Founded in 1994, Visionary Products creates simulations that are designed to stimulate, educate and motivate employees to embrace organizational change, and even desire "lean" business practices. Michael Deese, President and founder of Visionary Products, has spent more than 20 years researching and applying process improvement methodologies, including Teams and Lean. Current simulations include Lean Zone Production Methodologies specialized for cellular manufacturing and Lean Zone Office specialize for office processes.  Today, Lean Zone Production Methodologies and Lean Zone Office are widely used by Fortune 500 companies and other innovative organizations, including General Electric, Lockheed, American Airlines, Honeywell, and Amgen.

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SOURCE Visionary Products, Inc.

Interview with Joe White by Steve Willett

Joe White Gemba Coach

Joe White

Gemba Coach

Joe White joined works for Simpler Consulting with and has over 15 years of leadership experience in the development and implementation of successful, TPS-based lean transformations across multiple industries, countries and companies.

Joe’s lean journey started quite by accident after joining a small company as an Industrial Engineer while attending graduate school.  Having seen this unique facility on a class plant tour, Joe knew it was special, but didn’t realize that it would spawn a career-changing learning curve.  It was there that he was mentored by the Toyota Supplier Support Center and learned concepts within the Toyota Production System (TPS) including Kanban, Heijunka systems, TPM processes, and SMED.  From there, his journey involved Tier 1 automotive suppliers and a holding company that exposed him to many, diverse businesses and allowed him to develop Lean systems and lead transformations in varying industries, environments and cultures across the globe. 

 

Joe has been involved with the development of four lean transformation business models including training and employee development programs.  He holds certifications as a Change Management Trainer and Practitioner, Six Sigma Black Belt, Lean Master Black Belt and Master Trainer and Project Management.

Interview with Joe White

By: Steve Willett

What would be your high-level bullet point plan for implementing lean in an organization?

It all starts with senior leadership.  I know this seems to be overused, but it really is true.  If the senior leadership team doesn’t have a strong sense of urgency to change their organization and its culture, failure is guaranteed.  Once the leadership team is on board, they have to do several things effectively.  : 

1) Understand and craft the communication plan for the “burning platform”; everything that must go.  Every employee will eventually need to understand the WHY (not just the what and how) of the changes that will be coming.

2) Develop the organizational goals that need to be achieved.  At Simpler, we call this True North and recommend 4 categories of metrics/goals: Human Development, Quality, Timeliness, Cost and Growth. 

3) Understand what value streams their organizations have and what needs to be accomplished (at a high- level) to achieve the True North performance goals and develop a high- level Transformation Plan to achieve those goals.

Once these steps are complete, the true transformational work can begin.  Continuous improvement events are aimed at getting as many people involved as possible and are a great way to transform the key value streams while influencing the culture, but there are other steps that need to take place concurrently. Here are some examples:

For Instance:

Develop a team of resources:  Generally this starts with outside support (often in the form of consultants).  It is also important to identify internal resources that will develop the skills sets needed long term.  Additionally, a long term process to continue this development is critical.  Your lean resources will gain valuable knowledge of the business and at many levels. They will generally serve in these roles for 2-3 years and then go on to other leadership roles in the organization. Keeping the talent funnel full is critical.

Training: Many organizations choose to develop and deliver overview training to show what lean philosophies will be utilized and communicate the burning platform and a transformation overview.  This can be really helpful, but it is also important to not overdue this.  Many organizations spend a lot of time and effort training employees to use tools that they may not need.  Keep training on the “pull system”.

Visual Management: Develop and implement visual management to communicate the performance to the organizational goals and foster discussions around problem solving.

Workplace Organization:  Whether you choose to call it 5S (Sort, straighten, Shine, Standardize and Sustain) or 6S (addition of Safety), this is a great tool to start instilling the disciplines needed to transform the organization and sustain the improvements.  This can be a broader exercise than the value stream transformations and is a great way to get more people involved.

Problem Solving:  Engaging the entire organization in problem solving is critical.  Getting some basic problem solving tools in place and tying applying the solutions to the value stream transformations unleashes the most valuable asset you have;: your people. 

Finally, developing Developing a set Set of tools Tools that can be used to drive the transformations and teaching your teams to use them in the context of the Value Stream Transformation plans Plan is the long term process that develops internal resources capable of leading the ongoing lean transformation.

In your experiences, what do you feel are the main obstacles when a company starts a lean strategy?

1) Having the internal expertise.  It is often necessary to partner with a Sensei (Master Expert) that has been through the transition before.  If that expertise isn’t internally available, organizations can be hesitant to invest in that partnership, but if the proper Sensei partnership is developed, it can pay big dividends throughout the process.

2) Not taking the time to properly analyze the value streams and plan the transformation stages and steps.  Obviously, this plan will be at a high- level early on and needs to be refined every quarter or so, but laying out the journey is an important early step.

3) Focusing solely on cost reduction.  If you focus on streamlining operations, reducing lead times, developing your people, and improving flow, the cost savings will come. 

 

 

What are some lessons you have learned to overcome these obstacles?

1) Change Management.  Always keep in mind that a lean transformation is disruptive and difficult.  Don’t lose sight of the impact this has on the organization.  Spend 10-20% of your transformation resources on managing the change process (identifying and addressing resistance, crafting communication plans, keeping leadership engaged, etc.).

2) DO NOT SHORT CUT THE PROCESS.  Too many times, leaders try to short cut the process and they rob their teams of learning.  Ultimately, this is counterproductive and creates a culture that does not value standard work. One of the most frequent mistakes, like this, that I see is wanting to short cut Kaizen/Rapid Improvement Events.  There are is decades of information showing that the week long event is most effective for solving the problems and changing the culture;.  Shortening shortening this to 2 days is a bad idea, trust.  Trust us trust us (and by that I mean the thousands of practitioners that have done this for years).

3) Deal with senior leadership support issues early on.  This is a tough one, but if you truly want to transform your business, senior leadership support is nonnegotiable.  You can afford to bring other leadership levels and individuals along as the process goes forward, but not at the senior level.

4) Partner with the Senior Finance Leadership early and often to show the results.  This builds support, and helps mitigate resistance.

5) Don’t spread the tools, concepts and philosophies too fast.  For instance, I often see leaders expand Visual Management into areas that don’t have active value stream transformational activities that tied to the strategic plan, and they do it without the needed resources to coach the leaders in the area.  They end up with pretty boards all over the place that aren’t adding any value.

 

Do you have a success story that you want to share?

 

New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is a $7 billion integrated healthcare delivery system and is the largest municipal healthcare organization in the country.

 

Serving 1.4 million New Yorkers every year, HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse service through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers, and more than 70 community based clinics.

 

HHC leveraged Lean strategies to improve the revenue cycle process and collections. This work included:

·         o   Redesigning the automated revenue cycle management system

·         o   Improving charge capture workflow

·         o   Creating “standard” work for coding

 

As a result, HHC effectively streamlined its revenue cycle processes, resulting in:

·         o   $127 million in additional annual revenues

·         o   Increased collection rates

·         o   Reduced cycle time

·         o   Reduced staffing costs

 

For more information about Simplier Consulting go to www.simplier.com, and for more information on the HHC story, go to: http://simpler.com/publications.html

 

Don't go the wrong way with lean by Steve Willett

Mark Sessumes has 30 years of operations, management and consulting experience working with organizations to accelerate their profitable growth using Innovation, Productivity, Technology and Management Systems best practices.  His numerous deployment engagements designing, developing and improving products, processes and people have resulted in 100’s of millions of dollars in documented impact.  His special interest is working with leadership teams to adopt management and support systems necessary for enterprise transformation.

 

As Director of TMAC – Metroplex, Mark has profit / loss and related performance responsibilities including Market and Sales Strategy and Execution, Product Portfolio Innovation and Management, Engagement Execution and Management, and Operations and Administration Management.

 

Mark has completed numerous deployments and implementations, and trained hundreds of people in transformation and Lean Enterprise techniques resulting in millions of dollars in impact.  For a full biography go to: http://tmacdfw.org/team/sessumes-leadership/

 

Don’t go the wrong way with lean:

First of all, I consider Lean to be a strategic level initiative in the organization; specifically pursued to meet or exceed business goals. I think that the linkage to business goals is often overlooked. Often times, I have seen attempts to implement Lean as a tactical ‘project’.  Someone will say, “I have a problem here,” pull out a Lean tool and try to solve that problem. While that might work for a short time, backing up and seeing the full context of how this fits into the business goals and objectives, and the systems viewpoint provides the lasting results people seek. When I think of Lean, I always think in terms of three dimensions. This can be illustrated by over-lapping circles. 

 

There is the Technology of Lean which can be thought of as the tool sets. These tools include things such as: Quick Change Over, Kanban, TPM or other tool sets. This is where people tend to hover. I see Lean as much more encompassing, where in a broader context, if it is to be successful, it has to also affect the culture. 

 

By the Culture, I mean the sum of the daily habits. There are certain process changes which you can make, but ultimately they must result in a change of human behaviors. It is the behavioral changes that actually make those processes work.

 

Third would be the Governance or the leadership element. Management Systems and practices must go in to reinforce the culture, and to make sure that the techniques and tools take root.  All three dimensions should be included in any Lean implementation. 

 

 

 

One of the biggest mistakes that I have seen in Lean deployments is when a company starts with Technology/Tools and waits to move clockwise to include Cultural and Governance development activities. Management eventually discovers that the technical tools did not sustain because the people did not ultimately change. 

At TMAC, we prefer starting with Governance, and moving counter-clockwise to include Culture and Technology. We have found that it is a combination of all three areas that make Lean more effective and sustainable: Sustainable Results = Technology x Culture x Governance. If you halfway implement the Cultural and the Governance dimensions while perfectly implementing the Tools dimension, then what you end up with is a meager progression. Mathematically, you can see the results even if the Technology dimension is implemented perfectly with no mistakes or gaps: Sustainable Results = 1.0 x .5 x .5 = .25. When you start with Technology, and do not focus equally on Culture and Governance, you end up ignoring, or not appreciating the underlying structure. There is a purposeful transition from vertical management to horizontal management that happens in a true Lean implementation. Many times management is not committed to make the change from vertical to horizontal which ultimately limits the implementation success.

 

Organizations are typically structured vertically in silos: sales, marketing, production, materials management, etc. Or in departments: stamping, welding, deburring, assembly, inspection, packaging, etc. Fundamentally, how I see Lean, is you are trying to increase the velocity of the materials through the system specifically to generate revenue faster and more profitably. Normally you are attempting to accomplish this without extensive investment. You must redesign the information, product design, and supply chain, and material transformation systems and processes to enable flow. The managers in a vertical Management System work diligently to keep their area efficient, but they are not necessarily looking at the entire process flow. Related measurement systems and cultural practices also require change so everyone focuses on overall throughput speed and efficiency as the goal. 

 

Managers and supervisors are the primary communication system between the silos in a vertical organization, but if you can take the actual doers of the work, co-locate them together, and collapse the space and time between the steps, then you are also increasing the ability to make on-the-spot decisions by operators.

Lean can be thought of in two pieces: system design and daily improvements. The system design piece includes the leadership functions such as business goals and objectives, measurements, roles and responsibilities, etc. These help answer ‘why’ the organization is pursuing Lean in the first place.  There are also different measurements that should be put in place.  Remember, managers are designing the system specifically for flow.  Measurement systems are typically not developed by a supervisor. These systems are ultimately the responsibilities of top leadership. 

 

Daily improvements are driven by front-line supervisors, and are an ongoing activity for improvement.  This area is the engagement side of Lean.  You must have both sides to be effective.  When Lean is only viewed as an engineering function, where we are going to go and ‘install it,’ it does not work.  Implementing Lean is a huge undertaking when you think of all of the system design changes not just from physical changes, but also management policies which are driven by the way we think.  We have to change the way we think. 

 

When I think of a strategic initiative, I think of something on the scale of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system implementation. When you think about how massively disruptive, but yet theoretically enabling an implementation is, you can draw a parallel. First, it has the full attention of top leadership; they are fully engaged and involved. Secondly, you have clearly identified roles and responsibilities; there is no guess-work. Third, everyone in the organization is affected. Fourth, our behaviors are changed; it causes us to change how we do things. Fifth, people lose their jobs over these responsibilities. Management is serious about it. Unfortunately in many Lean implementations, it is not well understood by management and it is disconnected from the strategic goals of the business.  Often, top leadership is just dabbling. They try to delegate and set up a small continuous improvement office to handle the deployment.  But Lean is an organizational-level change, not a part-time, catch-as-catch can effort.

 

SUCCESS STORIES:

First, it is still very prevalent to hear companies that are job shops say, “This will not work for us, because we do not have a portfolio of fixed products.” Nothing can be further from the truth; I have personally seen job shops get the most benefit from Lean. The trick is in the product family analysis, determining from the entire offering of products, which ones are similar enough to be in the same family and organizing to achieve flow. I find it stimulating to see Lean implemented in ‘non-traditional’ environments.

 

One project that has been extremely successful is in health care.  In the emergency room, the product is a well person (a person also happens to be the raw material).  The goal is to produce a well person more quickly, by collapsing the arrival-to-discharge time while increasing patient care and business profitability and capacity. 

 

Another successful project is a local blood bank.  TMAC did work in the blood-processing area; from when the bags arrive until they are inventory in the refrigerator ready to go to hospitals.  Blood has a limited life once drawn. Production output was increased by 66 percent with the same number of employees and the same floor space. There were also similar achievements in ancillary functions where record auditing and data entry was performed. 

 

There were also many changes in these organizations regarding system design and in employee engagement. 

 

In summary, Lean should be seen as a strategic initiative to transform the business to an improved value delivery system to customers, cash flow and profitability for the business, and engagement mechanism for employees.  While there are specific best practices to improve production and transactional process performance, equal effort must be given to changing human behaviors, as well as management practices and thinking.

Create Fire in Your Organization! Build teams into your lean implementation by Steve Willett

By: Michael Deese


I am the former owner of Santech Industries in Fort Worth, Texas.  I am also the founder of Visionary Products, and the creator of the Lean Zone(r) Production Methodologies (sometimes known as the Lego(r) Airplane Game*).  Our story began when Santech had been growing rapidly.  We had doubled in sales, moved into a new larger building, and opened a rubber molding facility.  We were dealing with the growth, the new manufacturing, and the move.  I won't say that things were out of control, but close.  Day-to-day tasks involved dealing with problems, and managing the change

Critical Mass: Assemble the Steering Team, formulate the vision, prepare market strategies, and communicate the plan to all associates.
 
Cellular: Determine product families, design product cells, and move the equipment.
 
Empowerment: Implement the team structure and roles.
 
One Piece Flow: Reduce batch sizes to the smallest possible size and establish cycle times for each part.
 
Material Resource Planning: Integrate the scheduling of material and labor across cells.
 
Variation Reduction: Begin to study and reduce variation throughout your processes.
 
Standardization: Study, document, simplify, and reduce the number of different processes.
 
We talked about critical mass and cellular in the last eNewsletter, now we arrive at empowerment.  The empowerment step involved the addition of teams into the product-cells, and into the overall organization.  We directly attribute the tremendous success that was achieved in our change to the empowerment of employees, and the ensuing pride of ownership.  I consider empowerment as a fire, where the employees are the oxygen and employee engagement is the flame.
 
The level of empowerment should be determined based on the comfort level of top management.  However, the amount of authority that is delegated determines the level of energy returned by the employees.  Our management team determined to delegate all authority possible to the teams.  The team structure that we were utilizing had been used in multiple successful implementations at other companies so we felt very confident.  
 
There was oversight, but we moved as much authority as possible to the teams.  The supervisor roles were also divided up, and spread to different members of the team; human resources, quality, scheduling, safety, and supplies.  Normally, a supervisor is one of your top performing employees.  Once you promote them, they deal with all of the supervisor roles which end up taking most of their time.  When you delegate the roles to other team members, you gain two things; the key person now has more time to help with the issues, and the members that have taken the role responsibilities feel engaged. 
 
The team structure and cellular layouts were executed at the same time.  The cell designs had been completed, members were pre-assigned to teams, the factory was moved over about 3 days, and everyone started in a new work cell and on their new team.  The simultaneous physical and psychological changes were very important; everything was new, and there was no going back. 
 
LESSON LEARNED:
When possible, implement teams and lean designs simultaneously.
 
The teams had authority to change production processes within their area within reasonable boundaries.  After the initial implementation of one piece flow and load balancing, we begin to see easy and smart changes start happening daily to the processes.  Product families were assigned to product cells so the team felt that they produced and owned this product.  They became very proud of their quality and efficiency. 
 
We performed cryogenic de-flashing on some of our rubber products to remove excess thin rubber around the mold parting lines.  The process used liquid nitrogen to freeze the parts almost to a point where they were brittle, and then the parts were blasted with plastic beads.  One day I walked out to the shipping dock, and I found pallets with frost on them.  The team had become so fast in their process of making this part from start to finish that they had de-flashed the parts, inspected them, packaged them, generated the shipping documents, and had the product ready to ship in such a short time that the parts had not yet cooled.  I was impressed!
 
Our lead times dropped from 10-12 weeks down to 2 weeks.  However, the teams would call our top customer's purchasing departments on an on-going basis, and determine the priority of need.  We were generally able to ship an urgent product the same day when necessary.  This incredible communication between the team and the customer grew out of pride of ownership; they wanted to do a great job for the customer!
 
I have a friend that implemented the same structure into his aerospace machine shop.  The work cells became so efficient that they were producing the product faster than the office could provide them with approved paperwork.  They had to flow the paperwork process, and implement improvements to overcome the office process constraint. 
 
LESSON LEARNED:
When a team has overall responsibility for the product, they can achieve very high efficiency, and pride of ownership. 
 
We never set up competition between product cells.  A major reason was that we moved personnel between cells based on customer orders.  One night I was at the office to check on something.  I came in through the back door and witnessed two product cells working together in perfect harmony.  One work cell had a couple of minutes of free time during the product cycle at the molding press.  The other team was struggling to keep up.  On their own, I saw team members from one team crossing over, and helping the other team during their free minutes.  It was truly magnificent! 
 
Peer pressure is another aspect of team delegation.  If the work cell is balanced properly, you are dependent on each other.  If someone does not carry their load, the other team members see it immediately.  The team also knows daily who works hard, and is passionate about what they do.  The team puts pressure on the team members that need it without requiring management to step in.  In rare cases, someone just will not work out, but normally people adjust.  We put in a peer review system to increase the accountability within the team.
 
LESSON LEARNED:
Peer pressure is a natural by-product of a team oriented balanced work cell.
 
I observed another major change in how our business functioned before and after empowerment.  Empowerment causes a change in information flow within the organization.  Prior to teams, the managers received the detail information, and then summarized it when delegating to supervisors or individuals.  When decisions such as scheduling and quality control move to the team, the detail must go to the team, and the summary information moves up to management.  This requires changing reports, and who has access to information.  Fortunately, this can evolve over time, but it takes resources to change it.
 
LESSON LEARNED:
Reporting and data access needs will change with the implementation of empowerment.
 
In the next newsletter, Mark Sessumes shares a high-level overview of why some implementations are not as successful.  He shares his concept of the three areas within lean that should be addressed in a preferred sequence.  He also shares about the need to change from a vertical to a horizontal enterprise, and shares some unexpected success stories in production areas that you would normally feel are outside of lean manufacturing.  Mark draws from experience as regional director of TMAC, a non-profit enterprise that has worked with more than 6,200 companies in Texas, and has $995 billion in cost savings and cost avoidance on materials, labor, inventory, and equipment.
 
*Lego is a registered trademark of the owner (Lego Juris A/S Corp.) and has no affiliation with or endorsement of Visionary Products, Inc. website or products. The interlocking blocks in the simulation are not manufactured by Lego. Lean Zone is a registered trademark of Visionary Products, Inc.

Lean Saved Us! by Steve Willett

By: Michael Deese

My customer said at our meeting, "After I started in purchasing 6 months ago, I had determined to move all of my business from your company.  Now, you are the standard that I measure all other suppliers by.  I want to develop a plan to move all of my rubber molding business to you."
 
This was a quote from one of our largest customers at a company meeting.  I had asked him to speak about our lean processes, customer service, and any other topic that he chose.  The results of our transformation into lean were so dramatic, that he became our main proponent at his company.
 
Not only had our customer seen the change, but we also had astonishing financial results in 13 months:
 

  • Sales up 8%
  • Profits up 80%
  • Employees from 63 to 50
  • Finished Goods down 8%
  • Raw Materials down 35%
  • Work in Progress down 90% (to a 1.5 day supply)
  • Space for manufacturing operations from 30,000 to 25,000 square feet 

 
I am the former owner of Santech Industries in Fort Worth, Texas.  I am also the founder of Visionary Products, and the creator of the Lean Zone(r) Production Methodologies (sometimes known as the Lego(r) Airplane Game*).  Our story began when Santech had been growing rapidly.  We had doubled in sales, moved into a new larger building, and opened a rubber molding facility.  We were dealing with the growth, the new manufacturing, and the move.  I won't say that things were out of control, but close.  Day-to-day tasks involved dealing with problems, and managing the change. 
 
Our manufacturing was in a traditional layout where machines were grouped by function.  There was work in progress everywhere in the factory piled in front of equipment.  Our lead time was 8-12 weeks.  We were introduced to lean; cellular design, pull systems, Kanban, and work flow balancing by the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center located in our area.  We toured a company that was using the new designs, we were impressed, and we decided to implement lean at Santech.  Our plan focused on the following issues:
 
Critical Mass: Assemble the Steering Team, formulate the vision, prepare market strategies, and communicate the plan to all associates.
 
Cellular: Determine product families, design product cells, and move the equipment.
 
Empowerment: Implement the team structure and roles.
 
One Piece Flow: Reduce batch sizes to the smallest possible size and establish cycle times for each part.
 
Material Resource Planning: Integrate the scheduling of material and labor across cells.
 
Variation Reduction: Begin to study and reduce variation throughout your processes.
 
Standardization: Study, document, simplify, and reduce the number of different processes.
 
Critical mass deals with communicating with everyone, building consensus, and eliminating as much fear as possible from the change.  We wanted to build an atmosphere where any employee struggling with the change, would talk to us.  Rumors started that the goal was to reduce jobs, and that supervisors would no longer be needed.  Two-way communication is critical so that these types of situations are addressed immediately by sharing the correct information.  The best way to counter these is to communicate, and then communicate again.


LESSON LEARNED: In the absence of information, human nature always assumes the worst outcome will happen.  Over-communicate!
 
As we began to discuss the change to lean within our organization, the fears began to rise.  We were discussing dividing our products into product families, moving the equipment in the factory into work cells, and re-organizing the employees based on these work cells.  Those that had seen the other company's implementation and had received some lean training were confident, but almost everyone else had major angst.  We had everyone in the company go through the Production Methodologies simulation to help employees understand the concepts of lean, and why we were changing.  We also involved as many employees as possible during the product process mapping to build consensus on the change.
 
LESSON LEARNED:  Use classes, stories, and exercises to teach lean.  The more everyone understands, the less fear is present!
 
Cellular manufacturing moves the equipment, people, and materials as close as possible to eliminate space, movement, and lead-time.  The goal of the cellular design is to incorporate as much of the process into the cell as possible.  The optimum design takes the product from raw material to the finished product.  The normal constraints encountered involve lack of equipment, an intricate process that feeds multiple lines, or a process that requires many hours to complete.  I have found that you can normally design the work cells to overcome these issues, by handing off the process, and then taking back the manufacturing after the process has been completed.
 
There is always someone who feels that, "this will not work in our business, because..."  I have never found a manufacturing process yet where the concepts of cellular design cannot be implemented.  I have seen companies producing machined parts, molded parts, stamped parts, and even re-building components.  All of these were able to implement lean, and achieve excellent results. 
 
In the next newsletter, I will discuss why I feel it is important to introduce work teams into the work cells for the maximum results. Then we will begin a series of interviews with some experts! 

*Lego is a registered trademark of the owner (Lego Juris A/S Corp.) and has no affiliation with or endorsement of Visionary Products, Inc. website or products. The interlocking blocks in the simulation are not manufactured by Lego. Lean Zone is a registered trademark of Visionary Products, Inc.