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



About swb338

I'm a Continuous Improvement Manager for a Multi-Facility Manufacturer that serves utilities across the United States. My area of interest is in the utilization of information systems and Policy Deployment techniques to scale Lean Systems from pilot projects to enterprise scale.
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