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The first stage of Standardized Work, what we have been calling ‘Step Up 1’, is the foundational period when standards, which were not existing or followed before, are set for each process and the working times of both people and machines are measured. Moving beyond a state where there is no repetition of the same operation and no one knows operation time or equipment capacity is a big step in the journey toward Standardized Work which takes much study and discipline. After that, Mr. Kato identifies the next stage as ‘Standards are set, but standardized work is not followed’. So, what does this look like?

First, before considering the ‘content’ of the ‘Step Up 2’ phase, like all such concepts that are to be developed and sustained, top management must understand the ‘why’ and buy into the ‘how’ exhibiting both in their actions. The Supervisors and their support need to be appropriately skilled and resourced to deliver the ‘how’ – the things that need to happen when we reach this stage and beyond.

Mr. Kato identified 5 aspects that need to be present in management if a standardized system of operation is to be achieved:

  • Planning ability – understand the truth and make dynamic plans for the organization.
  • Ability to drive for results – enable a team to get results.
  • Management ability – keep the organization and team aligned (in order to achieve the results).
  • Ability to make best use of people – develop and maximize use of team member talents.
  • Trust – a sense of “this is the best direction for us to travel and I’m here to help you all find the way”.

These considerations should be made well before embarking on any journey toward Standardized Work! What is important to realize is that the path toward Standardized Work will be very tough going and may not be sustained if these 5 aspects aren’t present.

Regarding Supervisors, the fundamental skill in this development process is to be able to ‘think PDCA’. Sometimes we overcomplicate this to the detriment of the Supervisor. It doesn’t have to be an 8-step method, or a 7-step method…It needs to be kept simple by being taught and mentored through the pattern of Plan, Do, Check and Adjust with an objective of addressing ‘abnormal’. Thinking and behaving PDCA will pull in all the ‘tools’ we are familiar with when we need them, with the purpose being to address an ‘abnormal’.

As we progress from setting standards using documentation like Work Instruction Sheets, QC standards, safety operations, rules, etc. to seeing to it that these standards are enforced, the 3 key aspects of Standardized Work are introduced:

  • Takt time – the speed with which the product needs to be created to satisfy the needs of the customer.
  • Work sequence and time – the order in which tasks are completed and timing for each.
  • Standard WIP – work in progress maximum and minimums.

The typical tools and concepts that will get pulled in during this ‘Step Up 2’ phase are:

  • ‘Visual’ concepts – e.g. using charts, pictures and diagrams and making ‘normal/abnormal’ easy to see.
  • Training – perhaps the most important thing – the best way of instructing on how to obtain ‘normal’ throughout.
  • Andon – a system to notify management, maintenance, and other workers of a quality or process ‘abnormal’.
  • Visual management – key daily performance information presented visually and easily interpreted.

All are pulled in via PDCA ideally driven by the Supervisor with management support via active display of the 5 aspects.

by Patrick Graupp and Oscar Roche

Group 31
Article/Whitepaper

The Secrets of Isao Kato, Toyota’s Master Trainer

Gain intimate knowledge and insight into how Standardized Work can yield dramatic results through a people-focused program heretofore taught only in Japan.

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