MIT TechTV – Overview of MIT’s Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE) Initiative

MIT TechTV – Overview of MIT’s Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE) Initiative.

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MIT TechTV – Manufacturing Change: The Engine of the US Economy

MIT TechTV – Manufacturing Change: The Engine of the US Economy.

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Toyota’s 14 Principles

1. Value a long term philosophy over short term gains

2. Eliminate Waste

3. Eliminate Overburdening

4. Eliminate Unevenness – Level Loading

5. Build a culture of stopping to correct problems as soon as they are discovered and of doing the work correct the first time.

6. Use standardized work as the foundation of continuous improvement and employee empowerment.

7. Utilize visual controls to bring abnormal conditions to the surface.

8. Use only reliable, tested equipment that serves your people (people should not serve machines).

9. Grow leaders from within who have a detailed understanding of their work and can teach both their work and the business system to others.

10. Develop exceptional individuals and teams that follow the philosophy of the company’s business system.

11. Challenge your network of suppliers and help them to improve.

12. Go to the Gemba (the actual place the work is done) to thoroughly understand the situation.

13. Use Nemawashi to build consensus and consider all facts and viewpoints, but once consensus exists, execute the decision rapidly.

14. Become a learning organization through deep self-reflection and never ending continuous improvement.

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Value Stream Mapping with E-Draw

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Lean IT

Information Technology / Information Systems are something of a controversial tool to some Lean / CI practitioners, because in the past they tended to drive non-value added practices and worked against lean techniques such as kanban and visual management. That was the old world. In today’s world, many ERP systems are designed to not only avoid working against lean, but are a key tool in scaling lean from a model-cell scale to an enterprise scale or even supply chain scale. Here’s a Shingo Prize winning resource that discusses ways to leverage IT in a Continuous Improvement program:

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The Continuous Improvement of Standard Work

One element of a Corporate Lean Business System is the Continuous Improvement of Standard Work. Under this umbrella lies the body of knowledge exemplified by the Toyota Production System and various practitioners who have studied TPS. The framework for CI to Standard Work is the PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act).

In our implementation, the Check phase includes 2 steps. First, the improvement is checked at the Gemba to ensure that it achieved its desired affect or at least moved in the correct direction. Improvements are required to affect at least one of the following:

  • Improve safety
  • Improve quality
  • Improve delivery (eg. shorter lead-time)
  • Reduce cost (eg. shorter cycle time or direct cost savings of some other kind)

Certain improvements are required to go through a second step, which we call our shop floor validation process. This involves personnel with a broader scope of authority and/or downstream personnel to see the bigger picture and ensure there are no unintended consequences caused by the improvement.

Improvements that are validated then become institutionalized within our business system. When we standardize a process, the following elements help to anchor it in place:

  • A standard work combination sheet is developed or updated
  • ISO work instructions are updated if required – this triggers our training process to re-train employees to the new method and generates training records and random process auditing checks.
  • The improvement is logged in our ERP system and posted in our Sharepoint portal incuding pictures etc..
  • Changes in cycle time are communicated to our Sustaining Engineer to update routings which affect costing and


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Elements of a Corporate Lean Business System

In this post, I’ll describe the elements of the sytem we are developing at my current company. Our company develops gas risers, valves, fittings and meter-sets for utilities across the United States. At the time I started with them, they already had many years of success with talented Industrial Engineers and Lean practitioners reducing waste in many key areas of the businesses.

The downside is the improvements were all done by a few key people and were not sustained at the operational level when the project teams moved on to the next challenge. They were all project based and did not have the effect on the overall culture that was desired by top management. Finally, there was no communication and leveraging of experience between the facilities.

So, we implemented a corporate wide business system based on the Toyota Production System as well as Six Sigma techniques. To allocate scarce resources we adopted a strategic planning process called Hoshin Kanri to prioritize and align our initiatives with our mid-term corporate goals. We also leveraged the documentation and auditing infrastructure of our ISO-9001 certified quality management sytem to standarize the new techniques as they were successfully proven and adopted.

As the architect of the program, I looked for a succinct way of tying all these programs together and summarizing the pillars of the system. The approved elements are:

  1. The Continuous Improvement of Standard Work
  2. The Development of People
  3. The Voice of the Customer

Each of those elements will be discussed in upcoming posts.


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A Corporate Lean Business System

In my current position I’m developing both the company’s Lean Six Sigma program and a Sharepoint web portal to support and manage the implementation across 3 facilities in different states. This blog will discuss the elements of the system and seek feedback on what should be included. It’s my intention to develop a second, commercial version to offer for sale or subscription to the public as part of a Lean consulting business.

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