Situation. A multi-national manufacturer was implementing a lean management system (LMS) in a phased manner within one of their facilities. The target facility operated four separate comprehensive value streams. The LMS implementation incrementally covered the first pilot value stream and then continued to deploy it throughout the remaining value streams. LMS elements included daily tiered huddle or reflection meetings, gemba-based leader standardized work (LSW), one-on-one coaching meetings, and andon/andon response.
Problem. Due the breadth of the value stream(s) relative to the number of processes, number of natural work teams, plant floor footprint and the like, the sheets that the senior leaders used to conduct their LSW became too large and too complex to easily manage. For example, the site leader needed to personally check the sufficiency of and adherence to operational standardized work throughout the plant. However, the potential targets to check were in the many dozens. To illustrate, just two of the many checks were: 1) check one operator within cell XYZ to ensure that standardized work is being adhered to and is sufficient – right steps, sequence, cycle time, and standard WIP, and 2) check ABC FIFO lane to ensure that the max level is not exceeded and materials are pulled in first-in-first-out manner. Even after spreading the targets over multiple days and weeks so that the site leader only had a handful to check per day, the sheets were several pages long and it became difficult to understand what checks should be conducted at what time.
Action. Leadership desired to maintain the underlying principles of the LMS, but needed to find a way to conduct the LSW checks so that they were less onerous. They adopted the use of a kamishibai board (a.k.a. “standardized work audit board,” or “K board”), a visual tool that captures each LSW check for a particular area on an individual card. Each card lists the condition to check on both sides. One side is green in color (normal condition), and one side is red (abnormal condition). These cards are pulled by a leader from a box or bin attached to/near the board. The leader then conducts the check. If it is found that the condition is normal (i.e., the FIFO lane quantity is below the max, materials are flowing first-in-first-out, etc.), then the card is placed on the board green side out. If there is something abnormal (i.e., the FIFO lane materials are being pulled based upon how easy they are to build downstream and not first-in-first-out). The card is placed on the board red side out with a written explanation of the abnormal condition. The area leader, with coaching from their leader(s), as required, will then identify the root cause and the countermeasure and record on the same board. These boards are refreshed periodically – often daily or weekly.
Results. By using the kamishibai concept, the company was able to simplify the LSW sheets, thereby reducing confusion and stress. Many of the items on the sheet were replaced with instructions to go to the kamishibai board in a particular area and then randomly pick two cards (for example) and conduct the audit. In addition, the kamishibai board made abnormalities even more visible to the various stakeholders and prompted more sustainable fixes. Related posts: Developing Leader Standard Work – Five Important Steps, Respect the Process