Written by Jason Gledhill, Engagement Leader at LI Europe.

A few weeks ago, my beloved wife announced that she desperately needed a new bathroom. This was an emergency, she informed me. She couldn’t possibly live in our home, the home where we have created such fond memories, unless she had a new bathroom suite, floor-to-ceiling tiles, a heated towel rail, power shower and whirlpool bath.

I respectfully pointed out that, after renovating two previous houses, I formally retired from major DIY projects around six years ago and the bathroom we had was good enough. I also mentioned that I would struggle to find time for a major project. After all, I was busy at work, I played a little golf, we had three children to ferry around to numerous clubs, I played a little more golf, I wanted to spend quality time with my wife, and did I mention golf?

I won’t repeat the response I got, but you don’t need a great imagination to get a feel for the one-sided conversation that followed. After a morale-raising speech, I was forcibly frog-marched to the bathroom.

Once the vision of bath time bliss had been painted, and I had fully bought into that vision, I mentioned that I didn’t really have the knowledge or the correct tools to complete the project “on time, in full and within budget”.  I was kindly reminded that my wife wasn’t a member of the workforce and didn’t take kindly to “management speak”.  In the end, we agreed that we would get someone in to perform this life-saving household surgery.

Sure enough, a few weeks later a team of experts arrived at my house. Within an hour the van was unloaded, and cups of tea consumed. After some banging and colourful language, my bathroom was removed and everything was stripped back to the bare walls. More tea was then required, along with numerous chocolate digestives. Within a week the bathroom was complete; shiny chrome, sparkling tiles, a shower so powerful I’m sure it was part of a fire engine at one time.

Once again, all is blissful in our house.

So, what is the point of my bathroom-related ramblings and what has it got to do with making significant and sustainable manufacturing improvements?  

As the team of bathroom experts unloaded their equipment, it quickly became apparent that they had a multitude of tools. I had no idea what some of them were or how you would use them correctly. This is often the case with the tools and techniques in Six Sigma, Lean, TPM etc. Anyone starting an improvement project can get lost in the myriad of tools, not to mention the strange names they have and how to correctly apply them. It’s about understanding the tools available and how to use them effectively.

For this reason, LI Europe has created The Ambassador’s Academy, (TAA). It’s a monthly forum for CI professionals to meet and discuss how to correctly use and apply the plethora of tools available. The peer-to-peer format allows like-minded individuals to discuss best practice and how to deliver improvements within their workplace.

If you want to be a DIY CI manager, that’s great. If you want to become a CI professional, with a depth of knowledge, breadth of experience and an extended network of like-minded professionals, then come along to our next TAA session and see what it’s all about.

TAA membership isn’t open to everyone.  Members must be ambitious and have something valuable to add to the group. To find out more about TAA member visit the LI Europe web page at https://li-europe.com/news/ambassadors-academy-taa

Written by Nathanial Marshall, Senior Consultant at LI Europe.

StopWatchRecently, whilst running an improvement workshop, there was a delegate who turned up late every day. After a myriad of excuses and some not so light insults from his colleagues, I attempted to get to the bottom of why he was failing to turn up on time. He stated that he doesn’t have enough time to do everything he needs to do in the morning, leaves the house late and thus misses his bus.

I first suggested that he set his alarm earlier in a morning. That did not go down well at all. He craves his sleep and wanted to ensure he was fully rested for his days carrying out improvement activities in the workshop. Then I thought to myself, why not get him try to utilise one of our improvement tools in his morning routine?

Using Cycle Time Reduction (CTR) he would be able to get up at the usual time, complete his morning routine in full, leave the house on time and arrive at work promptly for the start of the workshop. Everyone is a winner!

Firstly, I got him to make a list of all the tasks he completed in a morning, how long each one took, and when they started and ended relative to the time he wakes up.

We then mapped these out visually on a Gannt chart.

I asked him to look for any critical paths i.e. any activity that needs to be completed in sequential order. Once he had identified these, we could look to see if there were any activities that could be completed whilst he was busy with other parts of his routine.

Unbelievably, we found he took his shower, prepared his lunch and then put the coffee machine on to boil. So we looked at how we could reduce the time spent on this sequence and identified an easy 8 minutes he could get back…

By putting the coffee machine to automatically boil ready for the time he finishes his shower, he could shave a vital 3 minutes from his morning routine. Fixing his lunch and packing his bag the night before would save another 5 minutes.

Making these small alterations (and a few others) to his process, our delegate was able to arrive early every day for the rest of the Workshops.

CTR can be used on any manufacturing process (continuous or non-continuous) to reduce the amount of time taken for that process to be completed. For example, it might be used to reduce the time taken for a case packer to complete its cycle or reduce the time taken for a plant to changeover between products. Applying CTR on your production line can provide significant throughput improvements.

It is a simple 3 step process

  1. Define the current cycle
  2. Map the current cycle
  3. Optimise the current cycle

For more on this tool and how to apply it, check out our Improvement Toolkit >