I’ve been involved with various continuous-improvement processes, such as 5S, kaizen events and gemba walks, and recently participated in a rapid-improvement event. This is really a mini-kaizen event, and the target was the company’s daily operations management.
The purpose of daily management is to identify abnormalities, standardize daily activities, provide a cross-functional interface, develop process consistency and track key performance indicators. Daily management is the foundation of continuous improvement and provides more visibility to critical business needs. How is our safety? Did we have any incidents or close calls? Are any machines down? What is our quality rate? Do we have any past-due parts that will cause delivery issues? What did we ship the previous day? Are we on track for our monthly sales and production goals? If not, what is preventing us from achieving our goals?
The objective is to answer all these questions, and more, with visual metrics posted in our meeting room and on the shop floor.
We started our rapid-improvement event with an event charter, a document that contains:
- the department or process directly impacted by the event;
- the problem to solve;
- the objective of the event;
- the key deliverables;
- the event schedule and milestones;
- the participating team members;
- other considerations, such as budget constraints and roadblocks.
This was an extremely focused event, involving 11 team members and lasting 3 hours. The goal was to improve our operations-management meetings, gemba walks and coordinator meetings. We wanted better visuals to see whether or not we are achieving our daily goals.
During the previous continuous-improvement event, we created an operations road map for the next 12 to 18 months.
Every topic was discussed for a predetermined length of time, based on 10-minute increments, with the longest lasting 60 minutes. A few of the topics were a review of the charter, determining the cadence and time for our daily operations meeting, and evaluating our gemba-walk time, frequency and cadence.
Getting together as a group allows us to see and discuss any issues we have and review details from the previous day. We monitor our scrap and other costs of poor quality on a daily basis and share that information with the various cells. We monitor scrap for the month to date and compare it to our target goal. If we’re trending poorly, we look at countermeasures now—not later.
We also review any orders that might be late and discuss countermeasures for on-time delivery. On a daily basis, we’ll monitor any open purchase orders and monthly receipts to determine month-end inventories. In addition, it’s important that we know what resources we’ll need to facilitate large orders.
We have our daily management meetings first thing in the morning, leaving the rest of the day to focus on what were deemed issues and goals for the day. Normally, I am not one for meetings, but this is one meeting I don’t want to miss!