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LEAN Fabbrica Audit
Benchmarking Lean Manufacturing: Is your Factory world-class?
Lean factories are fast, flexible, and efficient. They work like non-stop conveyor belts, producing a steady stream of quality goods at the rate of customer demand. Implementing lean practices have become critically important to maintain profitability and competitiveness. The Lean Factory Audit assesses the degree of lean implementation in manufacturing and processing plants. The audit scores ‘Leanness’ on a 5-point scale. Benchmark is level-5, when standards are equivalent to best practices.
The 20 Keys of Lean Manufacturing
The Lean Factory Audit evaluates the key success factors of lean; the 20 Keys of Lean Manufacturing. The tool analyzes current capabilities, mode of operation, and performance achieved. This multi-dimensional approach delivers a much more accurate result than a single checklist can. An average auditor takes one minute per answer and receives the Lean Factory Benchmarking Report in less than two hours; a lean expert completes the assessment in one hour or less.
A high degree of organization and cleanliness is the foundation of all major improvement programs. The lean organization metric assesses how well the operation is organized based on 5S principles: ‘Defining a place for everything and putting everything on its place’. To effectively measure 5S, the auditor needs to review 5S audit frequency, 5S knowledge level, cleanliness, robustness of housekeeping process, degree of standardization, organizational system approach, and how often items are reviewed and marked, the tagging frequency. 5S is essential to lean; it promotes safety and efficiency, defines structure, and eliminates waste from searching. The 5S Organization Checklist includes 7 points and takes 7 minutes to complete.
The lean autonomation metric assesses the ‘Jidoka’ dimension, the ability of machines to work without human supervision. Jidoka is also referred to ‘intelligent automation’, continuously monitoring quality to prevent defects. To assess Jidoka, the lean auditor looks at the capability of quality detection, degree of employee empowerment, simplicity of man-machine interface, amount of monitoring, effectiveness of error-proofing, and versatility of skills to handle multiple machines. The Autonomation Checklist includes 7 points and takes 7 minutes to complete.
People development is integral part of human capital management (HCM); also referred to as talent management. To benchmark leanness, the auditor seeks to understand how well people are trained and prepared for their future roles in the organization. It means assessing robustness of skill assessment, quality of appraisals, effectiveness of coaching and feedback, how training is initiated and delivered, the breadth of training program, quality of certification process, and how well career development is executed. The Human Capital Development Checklist includes 7 points and takes 7 minutes to complete.
Efficiency refers to the ability to deliver goods and services that meet customer requirements and produce economic value. To benchmark leanness, the auditor reviews conservation level, functional coverage and strategic alignment of efficiency improvements, effectiveness of controls, capability of costing model, quality of efficiency measurements, overhead application approach, effectiveness of waste reduction, and overall business value-add. The Efficiency Checklist includes 7 points and takes 7 minutes to complete.
A lean factory produces a steady stream of quality goods on time. Continuous flow refers to producing and moving one single item at a time, eliminating overproduction, inventory, and slack in the system. To determine the level of flow, the auditor assesses the typical batch-size, degree of one-piece-flow achieved, changeover time, delivery performance relative to market expectations, inventory between stations, and synchronization between processes. The Flow Checklist includes 6 points and takes 6 minutes to complete.
Inventory refers to all items in the pipeline waiting to be processed or moved. Physical inventories include raw materials, work-in-process, and finished goods. They are used as buffer stocks, safety stock, and shipping stocks. Benchmarking leanness means analyzing how well parts and information are managed. The lean auditor looks at the amount of inventory relative to sales, safety stocks, reorder points, level of control, how overproduction is addressed, method of replenishment, degree of inventory separation, and sequence of withdrawal. The Inventory Checklist includes 8 points and takes 8 minutes to complete.
Nothing can be achieved without involvement; it refers to emotional attachment of people to their work, team, and environment. Measuring the degree of involvement is important, as it correlates to a high degree with the performance delivered. The lean auditor analyzes the alignment between management layers, how improvements are initiated, strength of resource commitment, integration of customers and suppliers in the value chain, and robustness of the business improvement process. The People Involvement Checklist includes 5 points and takes 5 minutes to complete.
A lean layout supports people and machines to perform their work in a safe and efficient way. Applied lean techniques improve flow, reduce waste, and optimize interactions between humans, machines, systems, and operating environment. To benchmark layout leanness, the auditor assesses interactions between operators, amount of inventory between stations, time to fetch parts and information, level of transparency within the plant, and effectiveness of walk-pattern. An ideal plant has no dividing walls, enabling managers to overlook the entire flow from receiving to shipping. The Lean Layout Checklist includes 5 points and takes 5 minutes to complete.
The lean leveling metric assesses the ‘Heijunka’ dimension; how well the operation is balanced to produce at a constant and predictable rate. Besides flow, takt, and pull, leveling is one of the four pillars of a lean production system. The level of balancing can be determined by the backlog in the system, method of scheduling, how the plant is configured relative to leveling, and average workload variations. Assuming capital- and labor linearity, improvements in balancing translate directly into bottom line savings. The Heijunka Leveling Checklist includes 4 points and takes 4 minutes to complete.
A well running factory produces goods in a continuous flow at zero downtime. The ability of machines to run without interruptions correlates to maintenance effectiveness. A lean factory audit should evaluate the reliability of machines, overall operating efficiency (OEE), and effectiveness of maintenance organization, the ratio between planned and unplanned downtime, maintenance system approach, and method of uptime control. Improving uptime becomes increasingly important when demand approaches capacity. The Maintenance Checklist includes 5 points and takes 5 minutes to complete.
People and machines can only perform when properly managed. Performance management covers the entire plan-do-check-act cycle (PDCA); it defines expectations, sets targets, measures baseline, identifies gaps and opportunities, defines actions, allocates resources, and executes the plan to achieve targets. When benchmarking lean, the assessor evaluates the performance management process, type of parameters tracked, quality of goal setting, effectiveness of decisions, feedback, impact of incentive system, and effectiveness of consequences management. Managing performance is critical to any achievement. The Performance Management Checklist includes 6 points and takes 6 minutes to complete.
Overproduction and excess inventory are the result of producing in push mode. Push is commonly used in traditional manufacturing, while pull is a characteristic of lean production. To benchmark leanness, we need to review how resources are planned, triggered, and consumed. Pull eliminates overproduction by strictly producing what is demanded by the next process. Pull is one of the three pillars of a just-in-time (JIT) system. Auditing pull means scoring how well the production rate is synchronized with actual customer demand, amount of overproduction, performance of replenishment process, withdrawal method and discipline, and type of resource planning system in use. The Pull Checklist includes 4 points and takes 4 minutes to complete.
Quality means ‘fitness for purpose’, how well products and services meet market expectations. To audit lean performance, we determine the overall quality level by assessing process capability, Sigma level, effectiveness of quality controls, reliability and usefulness of quality data, how non-performance cost (NPC) is managed; authority of quality managers, maturity or the quality system, and strategic importance of quality within the organization. Quality is defined by the customer, not by the company. The Quality Checklist includes 7 points and takes 7 minutes to complete.
Rationalizing means leveraging existing possibilities to improve productivity. Continuously raising productivity is essential to maintain healthy margins throughout the economic lifecycle. The lean auditor reviews the practical application of knowledge to improve efficiency, coordination of resources, and operating controls. The ability to rationalize is determined by the chosen approach to improve productivity, degree of automation, quality of improvement ideas, degree of supplier integration, penetration of information technology, and capability of site technology. The Rationalization Checklist includes 6 points and takes 6 minutes to complete.
Readiness refers to the ability to adapt to shifts in customers’ preferences, advances in technology, and changes in the competitive landscape. Managing change is absolutely critical to the individual, team, and organizational success. Lean drives continuous improvement which demands constant change. Benchmarking lean requires assessing general awareness, spirit and readiness of people, their ability to adapt to change, attachment to the status quo, sense of urgency, involvement of senior management, quality of leadership, ownership of change projects, and effectiveness of execution. The Change Readiness Checklist includes 4 points and takes 4 minutes to complete.
A managed response protects critical assets from hazards and ensures continuance of the operation. A lean operation demands quick and effective responses, because no inventory buffers are in place to protect from outages, shortages, downtimes, and slow responses. When benchmarking lean, we need to review how the organization addresses abnormalities, how well plans are executed, authority of operators, speed and effectiveness of responses, tracking line-down events, signaling of abnormalities, and type of events that trigger a response. The Response Management Checklist includes 6 points and takes 6 minutes to complete.
Problem solving refers to moving from a given state to a desired goal state, from problem to solution. To pursuing lean, we need to raise targets above current capability levels, causing pain and problems. The ability to address those problems and close performance gaps is part of lean benchmarking; assessing the quality of abnormality detection, effectiveness of problem solving approach, focus of managers, degree of operator involvement, problem solving knowledge, quality of solutions, speed of implementation, and effectiveness of problem solving system. The Problem Solving Checklist includes 8 points and takes 8 minutes to complete.
Standards capture current best practices, the ‘right way to work’, and establish a baseline for further improvement. The ‘Act’ phase of the PDCA improvement cycle is all about translating improvements into standards. Standards enable systems and systems are impossible without the references provided by standards. Lean benchmarking means analyzing the entire workflow, degree of standardization, accessibility of standards, content and controls, how well procedures cover plant and office processes, and methods applied to keep standards relevant and up-to-date. The Standard Work Checklist includes 5 points and takes 5 minutes to complete.
Takt is referred to the rate of customer demand. Takt time is used to set the pace of lean factories, while traditional factories work to schedules and forecasts. Takt, flow, pull, and leveling are the four pillars of a lean production system. Therefore, assessing takt synchronization is important to lean benchmarking. The auditor evaluates how well the pace of production is controlled and tracked, method of adjustment, how well rhythm and discipline is established, and how close the operation is synchronized to actual market demand. The Takt Synchronization Checklist includes 5 points and takes 5 minutes to complete.
Visual management is faster, cheaper, and much more effective than any other type of management system. Visuals enable people to operate without papers and computers. Visual devices relay information through signals instead instructions; they use Kanban cards, Andons, bins, containers, etc. Such visuals are used in lean production systems to improve speed and efficiency. When scoring leanness, we need to review the range of visual tools in use, effectiveness of controls, how well processes and inventory are visually controlled, and the degree of transparency within plant and office. The Visual Management Checklist includes 4 points and takes 4 minutes to complete.
To calculate lean performance, score all 20 Keys of Lean Manufacturing using the following five-point scale:
- Level-1: Struggling – poor results, most key metrics show negative trend;
- Level-2: Learning – aware and open to change, improvement has started;
- Level-3: Improving – gains across entire scorecard, bottom-line impact;
- Level-4: Leading – among top performers, competitive, financially healthy;
- Level-5: Benchmark – currently invincible, reference to other companies.
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Are you ready? Assess the 20 Keys of Lean Manufacturing and score your factory relative to world-class leanness (level-5).
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