Articles

  • The Cost of a Lean Failure

    I sometimes call this short term gain, long term pain. In common with other posts to protect the guilty I will use an anonymised case study to make the point. My example is an FMCG company that sells to the end consumer through distributors.  The business has grown steadily over the past few years and the […]
  • How Good is your Costing System?

    Paul Brown of the ICE Partnership proposes a tool to help improve your costing system and its visibility in your manufacturing business. The market determines price but your costs are all about you. Your costs are built up from material, labour and various overhead allocations. The market will determine your margin! The process described here […]
  • WIP = Lead Time x Throughput

    Why Work in Progress kills your lead time and productivity Every factory needs work in progress to keep running effectively but at a recent seminar my colleague from ICE Sean Meeghan & I spent some time discussing its effects on factory performance. There is a maxim borrowed from queuing theory that the more people in […]
  • The Law of Unintended Benefits

    When I work with businesses to help them with shop floor or office productivity, there is often a barrier to overcome. It is the initial scepticism of workers when they are challenged to improve their productivity. There is a natural tendency to resist because it seems to be such a huge ask. Most workers these […]
  • Evidence trumps opinion every time – there is no substitute for an experiment

    I have spent a lot of time looking at processes in the last few years and (blowing my own trumpet a bit) I have become pretty good at spotting where the throughput and productivity issues will be, and suggesting countermeasures to improve the situation. As a scientist by training I understand the power of experiments, […]
  • Do you know your Runners from your Aliens?

    In almost any batch manufacturing company there will be a mixture of products that are made very frequently, some that appear quite often, some rarely and some very rarely. I call these Runners – made every week Repeatersmade – every month Strangersmade – every quarter Alienslegacy – parts that pop up now and again. There […]
  • E + R = O

    I was in an MD’s office yesterday when something caught my eye. Written in block capitals at the top of his white board was this simple equation. E + R = O When I asked him what it meant he said – yeah – I keep that there to remind me that I need to […]
  • Ye cannae change the laws o’ physics

    So what have dodgy sets and actors with their trouser legs tucked into their boots got to do with change?  Quite a lot actually. Scottie was right and, although you might not think it, change follows the laws of physics.  This is why it often doesn’t work.  The villain in the piece is entropy and […]
  • Standard work is an insult to my skills

    I heard ‘Standard Work is an insult to my Skills’ the other day in a machine shop. Interesting point of view as the worker was very skilled, problem solving difficult programmes and set-ups in a high variety shop across many machines. The worker was stressed and output was very variable because if he was not […]
  • Painting by numbers

    I was asked by a client to have a look at their production process.  The main problem seemed to be that the paint shop was a bottleneck and at busy times they struggled to get the throughput they needed. The current state process map was interesting: The paint system had a 12 hour curing time […]
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