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Category: Operational Excellence

Organisational Culture : Making the Change

Organisational Culture : Making the Change
Why is organisational culture change so difficult to achieve? Culture concerns people – their behaviour, beliefs, expectations, sense of security and comfort zones. People generally resist change since change brings uncertainty about the future. Change challenges a belief system and philosophy. It forces one out of a manageable context into the unknown.

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Why Lean Six Sigma Deployment Fail?

Over the course of many years helping organisations deploying Lean and / or Six Sigma Programme, I would like to highlight the reasons on why such Programme fails. Typically, there are 5 key success factors which need to be in place to drive the right change – otherwise the deployment Programme will not last long.

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Why Lean Six Sigma Deployment Fail?

Communicating More Effectively with Lean Emails

Communicating More Effectively with Lean Emails
Although there is no denying the impact of Lean in manufacturing, the far reaching effects of Lean in office transactions and support functions cannot be overstated. 

Let’s look at how Lean concepts can be applied to improve communication - specifically email communication.

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Case Study for An Aerospace MRO Company - Building Foundation for Operational Excellence

This multi-national company is involved in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aerospace spare parts. Its parent company with its headquarters in Europe has embarked on the journey of Lean Manufacturing and has reaped significant benefits to its operations and bottom line. The directive from the headquarters was also, for the facilities in the various regions to adopt a continual improvement programme via Lean Manufacturing.

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Case Study for An Aerospace MRO Company - Building Foundation for Operational Excellence

Case Study : Market Research Company Experiment in Excellence

Case Study : Market Research Company Experiment in Excellence
This global company is ranked among the top 5 research company in the world. Externally, competition is very intense and the costs of doing business are rising. Internally, productivity level at the operations level greatly varied across the regions it operated in and nowhere close to achieving the targeted productivity level.

With such challenging scenarios, the Global Management Team realized that they need to do things differently, constantly improve the management and operations system.

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Continuous Process Improvement as a Business Management Principle rather than JUST a Tool-Oriented Methodology

We might have heard or even experienced some disappointing efforts and results of business process improvement methodologies, such as Total Quality Management, 5S, Lean, Six Sigma, and Business Process Reengineering, to cite a few. Leaving a stigma of inadvertent consequences, this impedes an organisation's pursuit towards better business results. These programs are well-intended but they've over-promised and under-delivered in the said scenarios. Why did this happen?

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Continuous Process Improvement as a Business Management Principle rather than JUST a Tool-Oriented Methodology

Making Sense of Big Data and Six Sigma

Making Sense of Big Data and Six Sigma
Working on Big Data with Your Process Improvement Skills
So, you have the relevant Six Sigma knowledge and experience, and there is an opportunity within your company internally for data analyst to deal with big data. Will you be a good fit for this opportunity? The answer is a big YES, albeit with some learning curve.

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Changeover is a ‘race’ won or lost in the pits?

Imagine this: In Formula1 race, drivers have to make a pit stop for gas, new set of tires, and part service.  The driver sits and waits, counting each passing car, knowing that every lost second at the pit will diminish his chances at winning the race. Thus, the effectiveness of his pit crew is a crucial deciding factor of winning the race.

So, is the pit crew ready with the right tools and equipped with the standard procedure? Or they slowly go to the car, still discussing on task assignments, and rummaging a pile of tools to find the right ones they need?

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Changeover is a ‘race’ won or lost in the pits?

Lean Thinking in Healthcare

Lean Thinking in Healthcare
Currently, extreme competitive healthcare environment has compelled healthcare administrators to do more with less—less associate requirements, less technology, less time, and less workspace and while in the meantime, the high level of service to patients, doctors, nurses, and coordinators cannot be compromised or sacrificed.

How is this possible? The answer - Lean Thinking!

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5 Common Mistakes and Useful Tips in Typical Application of Quality Control Tools

Throughout the years of experiences in Quality Control Tools training and application, we have seen many industry practitioners are able to apply the quality control tools for product/process improvement. However, industry practitioners nowadays have concerns on effectiveness of quality control tools application. The tools can easily be applied but how useful the analysis results for making right decision. We have quoted some common mistakes typically made in quality control tools application.

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5 Common Mistakes and Useful Tips in Typical Application of Quality Control Tools

DMAIC Application in a Retail Banking Environment

DMAIC Application in a Retail Banking Environment
Application of DMAIC in service or transactional environment has always been viewed in having a bigger challenge as compare to manufacturing. However, the assumption can be challenged through ensuring a focus objective plus the commitment of the project team leader and its members throughout the project life cycle.

This case happened at a retail banking environment where the identified project team (with external coaching support by Neville Clarke) were tasked to improve their credit facility application process.

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Lean Energy : Achieve more (efficiency) with less (energy)

Energy is one of the critical resources for business to operate. Organisations need to analyse the overall energy efficiency issue from a macro perspective in order to sustain efficient energy usage. It is important to link isolated energy saving projects, align them with corporate goals and couple with proper costs benefits analysis.

Take an example if we are able to reduce energy consumption of a compressor to lower kW/h, do we really look into its total usage hours? There are hidden energy wastes from the operational flow where we can reduce its usage duration. This is where Lean Energy comes in.

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Lean Energy : Achieve more (efficiency) with less (energy)

Pull Production : The Factories of the Future

Pull Production : The Factories of the Future
A “pull” system works on matching the production rate to demand on the production system ie. what is needed in the next downstream process. This is an effective way to avoid overproduction. The approach is to match the rate of raw material uptake to the rate of consumption, balance up all the process throughput within the value stream to match the order delivery rate, and move the material through the production facility and out the door as fast as possible. The ultimate benefit is just-in-time manufacturing with just sufficient inventory, a short lead-time, flexibility to react to changing customer requirements and getting all this done at a reduced cost. And this is the answer to the high mix demand of today’s customers!

How does a production facility get to that point?

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Root Cause Analysis - Solving the Production Machine Breakdown Issue

A problem arises in a manufacturing company where in recent weeks high machine breakdown were reported in the production floor – accumulating on average 15% of unscheduled downtime. Neville Clarke was asked to train & equip their employees with Root Cause Analysis problem solving methodology as part of the company’s continuous improvement effort to resolve process issues and improve productivity.

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Root Cause Analysis - Solving the Production Machine Breakdown Issue

Proactive And Reactive Problem Solving Process

It is a known fact that failures or negative events are not unexpected in business activities and some of them can have significant impact to the business in terms of profitability or reputation.

Examples of these are:
•    Major breakdowns of a transportation system
•    A problematic web-site launched by an airline
•    Incidents of fraudulent cash withdrawal from ATM

It is therefore imperative for business managers to be able to prevent these failures/events from occurring, or in an unfortunately event where it has occurred, to be able to find out the root causes that lead to the problem in order to prevent it from occurring again. There are 2 well-practiced techniques available to help business managers achieve this objective that is Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and Root Cause Analysis (RCA).

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Planning to survive or planning to be better?

In between planning and execution, a lot of things can come in between. As such, the development and execution of strategic plans becomes critical in order for institutions to realise long term sustainability and organisational process maturity. A common pitfall in this endeavour is the concept of “piece meal serving”, Figure 1.1 illustrates how some organisations fail to look into other areas when developing their strategic plans. With this, it is important to note that a holistic management systems baseline complemented with continual improvement tools can be an essential ingredient during strategic planning when laying down a road map towards process excellence and maturity.

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Energy Conservation through ISO 50001:2011 EnMS Implementation

Energy Conservation through ISO 50001:2011 EnMS Implementation
Singapore recently enacted a new statute Energy Conservation Act 2012 to introduce mandatory energy management practices for large energy users in the industrial and transport sectors.

In order to meet the objectives of this Energy Conservation Act, it will be mandated that energy management practices and systems focus the companies’ attention on energy issues so as to ensure that energy is used prudently, spotting and rectifying faults that result in energy wastage, and overall help to achieve significant cost savings.

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The Essence of a Team Base Problem Solving

An organisation consists of a group of people and a set of processes running. Every now and then problems will surface within the organisation; be it a long running product or service non-conformance (producing sets of defects or rejects), process variations, customer complaints and so on. There are many problem solving tools & techniques exist in this world that the business can undertake; Six Sigma, Lean, Root Cause Analysis, 7 QC Tools, 8 Discipline Problem Solving Approach, just to name a few. Many of these techniques have been integrated to become an integral part of Quality Management System like ISO 9001.    

There are some commonalities exhibited in many of these problem solving techniques. Two of them are ‘problem identification’ and ‘formation of a team’ stage – which are essential to successfully address the problem(s). It doesn’t matter which stage comes first, as long as it undergoes both stage, it suffice.

 

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The Essence of Acceptance Sampling

Often, inspection is needed as one of the quality control technique in industry. While 100% inspection is the most straight forward and commonly used technique, it comes with a lot of undesirable impacts, such as high cost and time consuming that makes it impractical in most cases. Furthermore, it does not guarantee 100% compliance to the requirements. Therefore, it raises the needs for sampling plans that economically provide us with a reasonable amount of protection to ensure good quality.


Acceptance sampling uses statistical sampling that permits acceptance or rejection of a batch or lot of products based on a sample of units. It provides one rational means of verification that a lot conforms with the requirements of a predetermined standard. It is therefore regarded as an audit tool that stands between no inspection and 100% inspection.

A wide variety of acceptance sampling plans are available, that can be categorized by the type of data measured; attributes or variables. In acceptance sampling by attribute each item tested is classified as conforming or non-conforming. A sample is taken and if it contains too many non-conforming items the lot is rejected, otherwise it is accepted. On the other hand, acceptance sampling by variables is carried out by measuring a variable rather than classifying an item as conforming or non-confirming. Typically, the mean measurement from the samples will be compared with the acceptance criteria, for decision of lot acceptance or rejection. Acceptance sampling by variables is usually more complicated, but with the advantages of gaining more information and requires smaller sample size.

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Continual Improvement as a tool towards sustainability

Continual improvement tools can be applied in various industries depending on their respective organisational needs. These tools are not only geared towards providing breakthrough improvements in an organisational process and operation but also a sustainable “Greener”  growth. Tools on cost management can help organisations optimise their resources respectively while not compromising quality. Such efficiency in utilisation of resources can aid organisations in gaining competitive advantage; in line with this, cost management tools can be partnered with output management and problem solving techniques which would ensure long term business survival and sustainability.
 

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Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

T is for Total Quality
Competition is stiff, and as manufacturing companies expand and diversify their operations, the need for overall quality in output and operations management becomes more evident. Quality for manufacturing companies may be defined as the combination of a well executed method to deliver results and a collective involvement of individuals/group geared towards the improvement of machine availability, performance and output. So the question now is how can quality and operational excellence be achieved in a very competitive playing field?

Quest for answers gave birth to what is now known as TOTAL PRODUCTIVE MAINTENANCE (TPM). Its pillar based approach does not only help organisations adhere to a “World-Class Operations Management” (WCOM) through efficient practices, but also help management realise total quality.
 

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5S Blitz Kaizen: Rapid Organising with A-Class Results (ROAR)

5S is a continual improvement philosophy that focuses on workplace organising to facilitate the achievement of Customer Delight and organisations KPIs such as Quality, Costs, Delivery, Safety, Morale and Productivity (QCDSMP), on a sustainable mode. It remains the foundation or launching pad for future and more complex improvement activities.

Blitz Kaizen is a methodology whereby implementation is given a ‘steroids effect’ to jumpstart the improvement activities to be rapid and results-oriented. Hence the term Blitz rapid, focused, short-term strike at the issues or problems to be tackled. Kaizen is a Japanese term and it meant small, incremental improvement. It also means ‘to take it apart, and put it back together in good conditions. Combining the two terms, Blitz Kaizen means “small, focus, incremental improvement at rapid pace”

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TWI : The Industry’s Secret Weapon

Training Within Industry (TWI) was widely used during World War 1 for shipbuilding and during World War 2 to enable the production of reliable quality military supplies in the United States. The TWI programme was introduced by the US government to assist manufacturers in transforming a workforce which had little or no industrial knowledge, skills and experience, to becoming the powerhouse behind the war effort. The principles of TWI were adopted by Japanese manufacturers in the post-WW2 era and within 20 years, the Japanese had surpassed well-established industrialised nations.

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Using TRIZ for Creative Problem Solving: An Illustration

1.    Introduction
To succeed and sustain a competitive advantage in a world where business gets tougher, organisations need to increase the rate of innovation. The theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) is an approach that can increase a person’s ability to generate creative solutions and help almost every organisation to develop innovative capabilities. This article shows how TRIZ Is applied to help generate creative solutions to tackle a sample problem.

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The Power of 5S

“5S? We have been implementing 5S for years!” - a common respond by most when asked if they have heard of 5S. An explanation of 5S often comes in the way of “Oh, we get our people to organise and tidy up their workplace every day – keeps the place clean, you know!” A good practise, nonetheless, a mere shadow of what a true 5S system is about.

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The Future of Management Systems

Evolving Quality Management System into a Framework of Operational Excellence

The ever changing global economy coupled with fierce competition and growing sophistication of customer needs warrants a sustained breakthrough performance in key areas of business. While the ISO family of Quality Management System provides the necessary ingredients leading to the success of an organisation, it doesn’t provide the means and the how’s to achieve the company’s vision for sustained breakthrough performance.

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Theory of Contraints

Theory of Contraints (TOC) is a philosophy attributed to the pioneering work of Dr. Eli Goldratt in 1986.  In the 1980s, while Asia was focusing on setting up factories and product quality improvements, the West embraced TOC which linked system improvements to the bottom line.

A key premise in this theory is that the rate of revenue generation is limited by at least 1 constraining process or bottleneck.  Hence, to increase overall throughput or revenue generation, we must treat the bottleneck.

What is a constraint or bottleneck?  It can be the market (eg not big enough), a policy constraint (eg must sell all products at all cost even those with thin or negligible profit margin), or an internal resource constraint (eg lack of competency, insufficient capacity).

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Lean Sigma - The KEY to the High Performance & Successful Organisation

Lean Sigma is the KEY to the High Performance & Successful Organisation.  Businesses gauge success by a multitude of matrices – revenue, income, profit, customer satisfaction, market share, return on equity, return on assets, return on investments, and many more.  Ultimately, true success is attaining and sustaining BUSINESS RESULTS over time, with the fact that the customers’ and share holders’ expectations are ever increasing.

Due to the constraint of resources in every organisation, the challenge lies in determining the vital few results to focus on and the critical metrics that best monitor performance.  The Fortune 500 list serves as another metric of success.  Of the top 100 companies, 70 have been in the top 100 for five or more years.  Interestingly, 63% of these 70 companies acknowledge implementing Six Sigma to some degree.

“Lean Transformation” and “Six Sigma Breakthrough Improvement” are complementary in nature and, if effectively integrated, represent a long-term business improvement initiative that can produce unprecedented results.   While Lean focuses on eliminating non-value added steps and activities in a process, Six Sigma focuses on reducing variation from the remaining value-added steps.  Applying Lean ensure that we are working on the right thing with shorter lead time and applying Six Sigma ensures that we are doing the right things right, every time as we do them.   Lean defines and establishes the value flow as pulled by the customer, and Six Sigma makes the value flow more consistent.

These two methodologies interact and reinforce one another, such that percentage gains in Return on Investment Capital (ROIC%) are much faster if Lean and Six Sigma are implemented together.  Therefore, we can say that Lean Sigma is a business improvement strategy that maximizes shareholder value by achieving the fastest rate of improvement in customer satisfaction, cost, quality, process speed, and invested capital.

Lean Sigma implemented effectively via the Neville Clarke’s approach is a dynamic, synergistic force that will result in process improvement that will contribute significantly to the organization bottom-line.   Furthermore, the Lean Sigma business process improvement strategies bring a host of valuable tools to the workplace, which, if executed effectively with leadership support and commitment, can make a huge difference in the way companies work.

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Why Do Organisations Need to Implement Lean-Sigma?

Lean-Sigma has moved beyond a concept toward a mandatory methodology. Organisations who implemented Lean-Sigma have very high process capability, very few variations, customer oriented and free from waste throughout its supply chain.
 
History of Lean-Sigma concept goes a long way back to the QS-9000 era and later on ISO/TS 16949 (both are quality management system standards for automotive industry). This can be seen on the goal of ISO/TS 16949, namely:

To develop a fundamental Quality System that provides for:
 -  continual improvement
 -  emphasis on defect prevention
 -  reduction of variation and waste in the supply chain

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