The Technical Lean Tools Module contains the information most typically associated with a lean manufacturing program. However, with the Lean Concepts program it is intentionally introduced last. Before successfully developing technical lean manufacturing tools, a lean practitioner must first understand the host of foundational skills, concepts, and techniques covered in the previous modules. When used alone, the technical lean tools offer the pieces of a lean system. However, without a proper guiding , effective skills, and supporting systems, technical lean manufacturing tools will fail when set in motion. The goal of this module is to build upon the foundation established earlier in the program and provide the lean practitioner with the final set of lean tools to construct a functional lean process, system, and organization.
The first section in the Technical Lean Tools module covers the concept of Stability. In the lean manufacturing context, stability relates to gaining control of abnormal conditions and understanding the waste of masking problems with capacity. Lean problem solving is tied into the skill of maintaining Stability as the foundation for higher level lean tools.
This section covers the concept of Standardized Work (STW). This is a series of lean tools built around a combination of best practices and Takt Time (the tool used to set the pace of production equal to the pace of sales). Several different Standardized Work forms are reviewed with an investigation of form/function. The role of Standardized Work in driving Kaizen activity is also discussed.
Section 03 reviews the idea of Jidoka. Jidoka is a multi-faceted skill with a broad range of applications and benefits. This section explores the use of Jidoka in improving quality and eliminating waste. The concepts presented are critical to effectively managing lean processes and maximizing the value of the human resource.
This section covers the concept of Heijunka or load leveling. After an initial discussion of the thinking behind the lean tool, several different leveling and balancing approaches are studied. The result is a demonstration of the most effective methods of sequencing production in order to minimize inventory and manpower. As Heijunka can be difficult to grasp initially, a brief summary of concepts is included at the end of the section.
The Continuous Flow section introduces the concept of Just-In-Time production in its full context. As a key component of any JIT system, continuous flow is a thinking approach that consistently strives towards a set of ideal conditions. By reducing inventory and production lot sizes, a Continuous Flow system both reduces lead times and improves production flexibility. In order to realize the benefits, a robust knowledge of the previous tools is required.
This section introduces one of the hallmarks of lean manufacturing programs, the Pull System. There is an initial review of traditional approaches (it is HIGHLY recommended to review the MiFLOW section from the Measurement Module before starting this section) and then a discussion of the fundamentals of a variety of pull system designs. There is also special attention paid to the methods of reducing lot sizes – a necessary requirement to successfully incorporate a Pull System. The concept and application of kanban is also introduced and discussed.
Section 07 lays out a Lean Transformation Plan template integrating all of the lean tools covered in Technical Lean Tools Module and layering them in the proper sequence. There is an initial discussion on planning the transformation (using concepts from the Management and Measurement Modules) followed by a review of the transformation structure. At the end of the section, special emphasis is placed upon confirming results and continuous improvement and sustainability.
The final section in the Technical Lean Tools Module presents several templates and concrete examples of tangible lean manufacturing tools. This section reviews methods of creating Standardized Work, managing problems, designing for Continuous Flow, and an extensive review of Kanban. The final wrap up provides a renewed focus on continuous improvement.