Monday, February 26, 2007

Book Club: "The Toyota Way" Chapter 12

Summary: Chapter 12 of The Toyota Way discussed Principle #6: standardized tasks are the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment. If work is done differently each time, it's nearly impossible to track down and eliminate root causes of problems. Standardized tasks create stability and repetition, which are critical in analyzing and adjusting processes. Additionally, it is critical that employees be directly responsible for developing standardized tasks. Having this responsibility empowers them to actively improve the quality of their products and efficiency of their processes.

1) Discuss the Frederick Taylor method of management. What are some of the negatives of this style?

2) Describe the 3 elements of standardized work at Toyota (takt time, sequence, and stock on hand).

3) Discuss the golf analogy on pg. 142. How does this relate to the purpose of standardized tasks at Toyota?

4) Who develops the standardized task procedures at Toyota?

5) Explain where Toyota fits into the chart on pg. 145. Where does Palm Harbor fit?

6) Discuss how Toyota standardizes the work of launching a new product.

7) How specific or general should standards be?

8) Who should maintain and impove standards?

Feel free to add any additional items for discussion to the list. We at Palm Harbor will be discussing these topics in our training class this week and next.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

6S in the Frame Shop (Part 4)

We recently performed our 6S event in the Frame Shop. We brought in all of our group leaders and supervisors, along with some of our best associates, to participate in the event. Our goal was to have people from all areas of the factory participate in the first couple of events to get their feet wet and start the mental process of planning their own 6S event. We began the day around 7:00 a.m. with a brief meeting on the shop floor to go over the plan of attack. Then, we broke up into a couple of sub-groups and went to work. Here's a breakdown of the event:

1) Sort - We had already sorted out most of the unneeded items prior to the event, so there wasn't much left to remove.

2) Safety - We handled some of the safety items prior to the event, and finished some during the event. Safety improvements included: building racks to hold propane cylinders in place, installing 4 new bright lights, fixing a damaged area of the floor, creating a safety zone for stowing a hoisted axle carrier, and installing a safety light at the entrance of the area to warn visitors of when frames are being moved through the air.

3) Set In Order - First, we removed all material from the area. Then, we marked-out and labeled "bays" where each type of material would go. To mark the bays, we painted thick black stripes on the wall from the floor to the overhang above. To label the bays, we installed large label plates above where each type of material goes. We also built new cabinets with shelves to house the smaller inventory items such as screws and bolts.

4) Shine - While we were removing material from the area, we also swept and cleaned. Before marking-out the material storage bays, we painted every wall in the department with light gray paint. In areas where tires (used during the frame-building process) are stored, we painted the walls black to hide the scuffing that occurs. We also repaired some damaged walls and refurbished some beaten-up equipment.

5) Standardize - We're still in the process of completing this step. We plan to post a visual control board for the upkeep of the first 4 S's. In addition to standardizing the maintenance of the work space, we also plan on standardizing the job processes involved with building frames. We foresee visuals of key processes being posted in the area, along with detailed standard work folders.

6) Sustain - This will pretty much be the same for each event. Along with having management audit the upkeep of the first 5S's, we want to positively reinforce the importance of the improvements that have been made.

Overall, we feel good about our results. We have some work to do to finish the event, but we've certainly made some progress. More importantly, we are gaining experience in conducting these types of kaizen events and should be able to execute them better in the future. Having all of our team leaders participate was valuable in that they are already thinking about what they want to improve in their departments. It should be interesting to see if our 6S initiative takes off as everyone gains an understanding of how it can help them.

Along with improving working conditions, 6S exposes problems such as excessive inventory, which creates many types of waste. If we're able to see and eliminate the waste that is surfaced by 6S, then we'll have a good shot at becoming Lean.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Shock & Awe at the International Builders Show

The International Builders Show in Orlando, FL just wrapped up recently. As usual, the convention was an impressive display of innovative products, brilliant concepts, and beautiful homes. Palm Harbor Homes and our sister company Nationwide Custom Homes displayed a total of three homes (one shown here) in the Show Village, and they were all fantastic.

Click here to view a slideshow of photos from the Show Village.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Book Club: "The Toyota Way" Chapter 11

As discussed in the previous post, we'll be doing things a little different with our book club. On the blog, I'm just going to do a very brief review of the chapter and enumerate some discussion topics. Here goes:

Summary: Chapter 11 of The Toyota Way discusses principle #5: build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time. This principle, also known as jidoka, is a key pillar of Lean along with one-piece flow. Flow surfaces problems, and jidoka focuses everybody's attention on solving them. The result is improved efficiency and quality. Here are a couple of discussion topics:

1) There is a huge difference between Toyota's philosophy of stopping the line and that of most manufacturers. Honestly discuss Toyota's philosophy that "no problems is a problem" in light of our own practices.

2) The principle of jidoka refers to the practice of building quality into machines (autonomation) and empowering humans to stop the line through the use of andons. Discuss how jidoka is or is not applicable to the manufactured housing industry.

3) Describe a typical andon system. Does it shut down the entire line? Does it require a technology investment? What is the purpose?

4) What does poka-yoke mean in English? What are some Toyota examples of poka-yoke?

5) Toyota posts standard work charts with visuals and detailed
notebooks with photos in the work area. Explain the role of standard work at

6) Describe Toyota's quality control system. What tools do they employ? Are they complicated? Who is responsible for quality?

7) Discuss how jidoka does or does not apply outside the factory.

8) Explain how one-piece flow and jidoka mutually reinforce each other.
If you have any questions about the discussion topics, or if you would like to add a topic, leave a comment.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

6S in the Frame Shop (Part 3)

Yesterday, I spent the entire day working with our 6S team on our improvement project. We began the day in a classroom where we did an orientation for the team members. First, our General Manager gave an overview of our Lean strategy for the entire factory, with a focus on the role of the 6S's. Then, I gave a quick training session on the 6S's and Lean (about 5 minutes in length). Next, our Safety Manager discussed each safety issue that is to be addressed as part of this 6S event. Then, we gave the team members folders that included: a hand-out detailing the 6S's, some rules of conduct, and a map of the frame shop area. We then went down to the shop floor and began planning:

1) Sort - We identified and red-tagged unneeded material. We just used red tape. Luckily, there was not a lot of material that needed to be removed.

2) Safety - We addressed the safety issues with the help of the maintenance department. Some items were handled immediately, and others were scheduled for completion during the two weeks leading up to the 6S event.

3) Set-In-Order - We planned how we would reorganize the storage of material to be more efficient. We decided to have well-marked assigned spaces for each type of material, along with standard labels that are easily visible to the material handlers. We also decided to move some material around to put it closer to the point of use. We made plans to reburbish the tool locker so that each tool would have its own clearly marked space.

4) Shine - We made a plan for cleaning and painting the entire area on the day of the event. We decided to add a metal plate to the wall in one area to protect it from repeated damage and discoloration due to the frame building process. We also made plans to refurbish a couple pieces of small equipment. Some of the large equipment will be refurbished during our annual renovation week in July when we have several days to do the work.

5) Standardize - We set aside one area of the department to be a "resource center" for the associates. This area will include a visual control board for 6S upkeep, a standard work folder, and visuals of key installations.

6) Sustain - We have a bulletin board that we will use to post before & after photos, results from cycle time improvements, and other positive information. Additionally, we are including every Team Leader and Supervisor in the plant on the day of the event. They will receive an orientation to the 6S's and will then participate all day in the frame shop. Hopefully, this will allow each of them to see the results from the event and give them some ideas for their own areas.

After we developed our plan of attack, we wrote our ideas down on a large 3'x4' map of the area. Next, we brought our GM back in and gave him a summary of our plans using the large map as a visual guide. Then, we reviewed our pre-event assignments and our strategy for the day of the event. Finally, we agreed to meet again in a week to do a status check and make any needed plan adjustments.

I'll update you as we get closer to the event.

Friday, February 02, 2007

More Notes from the Lean Symposium

Here is an excerpt from an e-mail by Dewey Warden, Toyota-trained Lean Manager at Senco Products:
..I thought the symposium went very well. Many of the comments, discussions and questions I heard demonstrated a great amount of interest in moving forward with lean in the industry. I am sure that there are going to be some that may study it and do nothing. I also suspect that there are some who are going to try it but lose interest within a year or two. I predict however, that a good number of the companies that participated in the symposium and visited it are going to use lean for the long-term. I believe that these organizations will engrain lean into their culture. It will become the way that they “do things”. Those are the companies that are going to surpass their competitors, improve their safety, quality, productivity and their capabilities. I further predict that a few organizations will take up the greater challenge to set a goal that will focus their effort to match their information flow and their material flow to a make-to-order process from order to ship. They will excel. I know that it is hard to let go of the past. Many may wish for the old days of three to four week backlogs being necessary to run efficiently and effectively. Trust me. There is a great amount of waste that is available to be eliminated. It will stagger the mind as the true believers “learn to see” over the next two to three years of their implementing lean into their culture...
As always, Dewey provides words of knowledge, reality, and encouragement. I agree 100% with his assessment. What are your thoughts?

6S in the Frame Shop (Part 2)

Today, I spent some time collecting data in the frame shop in preparation for our meeting Monday. I mapped out the physical layout of the area including the location of materials and equipment. I'm going to get one of our CAD engineers to draw it up on the computer, and then we'll turn it into a spaghetti diagram that shows how people and material move around the area.

I also observed a frame being built and kept tabs on the timeframes for each step in the operation. The workflow was pretty smooth, but there were certainly opportunities for improvement.

I took about 30 photos of the area and began an inventory of material. This will aid us later when we report the improvements to our executive team. We'll be able to have before & after photos, and we should have some reduced inventory levels to report.

That's all for today. The next step is to have our strategy meeting Monday with the Team Leader and Supervisor of the frame shop. Check in early next week for another update.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

6S in the Frame Shop (Part 1)

This is the first in a series of posts on our upcoming kaizen event, a "6S" of the frame shop in our 06 factory in Plant City, Florida. In this article, I'll give some background on the event and describe what's coming up soon. Then, I'll update the blog as we plan, execute, and follow-up on the event. I'll be sure to provide photos, spaghetti diagrams, cycle time data, and plenty of commentary. Now, let's get started with some preliminary information.

As you probably know, the purpose of a 6S event is to create a higher level of stability and reliability in a work area. It can be on the shopfloor, in an office, or on an internet server. It is a foundation builder in that it sets the stage for more advanced Lean improvements. For example, if you want to create a one-piece flow cell in your wall department, you first need to determine whether the wall framing and wall paneling operations are capable of performing at the same rate over and over again. Remember, if one operation goes down in a flow, then the entire line goes down; each operation must perform consistently. If the wall framing doesn't keep up with wall paneling, then paneling will soon have to shut down. Any numbers of factors could cause the wall framing operation to fail to keep up: insufficient material, rework, absenteeism, and so on. A 6S event allows you to improve the reliability of an operation by creating and maintaining a clean, organized, and efficient workplace. This leads to better performance and improved employee morale as their work environment is more pleasant. Now for the definition of the 6S's:

1) Sort - means to go through the area and determine what is needed for current production. Anything not needed is red-tagged and discarded in an orderly manner. It's a good idea to have a red-tag area designated in advance to house "quarantined" material/equipment/etc.

2) Safety - More important than anything else is the safety of the work area. Before determining the future layout of the area, take into account any existing safety hazards. Eliminate them, and do not build-in any safety hazards into the new layout. Clearly mark hazard zones, keep safety equipment in prime operating condition, fix any structural elements that are damaged, and so on.

3) Set-In-Order - Take what is left and put it in the right place. By right place, I mean the location that most reduces waste. Remember, excessive walking is waste, waiting is waste, damage is waste. Choose locations for materials/equipment/etc. that allow the opration to flow without delays. Label racks so that material is easily identified; delineate dumpster locations on the floor; move equipment closer together to reduce walking distances, use shadow figures to outline where handtools go; create open lines of sight. The 2nd S is your opportunity to get things right on your area layout.

4) Shine - Now that you have everything where you want it, it's time to get everything in top working condition. This means cleaning, repairing, refurbishing, and replacing everything in the area. The goal here is to set the standard that you would like to maintain for the long-haul.

5) Standardize - Once everything is looking the way you want it, it's time to lock it in with clear, visual procedures for maintaining the first 4 S's. By standardizing the upkeep of the area, you will ensure that the area doesn't slip back into old habits. Use visual control boards to communicate areas of responsibility. Make the team leader in an area be responsible for the follow-up on the assignments. Have the supervisor meet with the team leader regularly to go over issues and ideas.

6) Sustain - Create the conditions necessary to sustain the improvements for the long-term. Go back and check that the standard maintenance and cleaning requirements are being followed. Reward those who adhere to the spirit of the improvements. Post before & after photos of the area. Have a BBQ. Do whatever it takes to prevent regression and create dedication to orderliness.
Once the 6S's have been implemented, the operations should be able to operate more efficiently. The next step is to link your newly stabilized process with another stable process in a one-piece flow (for more on flow click here). If one-piece flow is not plausible, then a pull system is the next best thing (for more on pull systems click here). Once flow and/or pull have been achieved, then the process cell should be much more capable and powerful than it ever was before the improvements.

Additionally, if problems arise in a process flow for whatever reason (new product, bad design, bad material, etc.), it will become immediately apparent because there's no room for error in a flow system. This will focus everybody's attention on fixing the problem and eliminating the root cause. This is the real power of flow, but you can't get there until each operation within the process is stable and reliable. Hence, we love the 6S's.

Here are the key people that will be involved in the 6S event in our frame shop:

1) Champion - the Production Manager of the 06 plant

2) Captain - the Supervisor of the frame shop

3) Team Members - the Team Leader of the frame shop, the Associates from the frame shop, and the Team Leaders from all of the other departments in the factory)

4) Lean Advocate - me, I'll provide technical assistance and logistical support
We'll meet this coming Monday to do a quick orientation, and then we'll spend the rest of the day planning our event based on the ideas of the Captain and Team Members. It has to be their event, not the Champion's, and certainly not mine. Then, we'll spend two weeks getting things lined up for the event. The majority of the event itself will be performed over the course of one day. Then, we'll do some follow-up work and prepare a presentation to show our results. I'll keep you up-to-date as we go. Any questions, thoughts, suggestions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Wish us luck!