The Zoo or why many improvement initiatives on shop floor fail to deliver noticeable results at company level

The zoo is one of the metaphors used in the book “Thinking in Systems” by author Donella Meadows (1941-2001) and one of my favorite takeaways from her book. Told in my way, the zoo is a convenient way to observe animals that would not be that easy to observe in their natural habitat. In a … Continue reading The Zoo or why many improvement initiatives on shop floor fail to deliver noticeable results at company level

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) refers to software “robots” that can be taught or programmed to mimic human actions like typing, copy-and-paste, open files, read files... do many tasks across programs and applications just as human workers do. It is especially suitable for tasks requiring no subjective judgement, that can be described simply. The RPA software … Continue reading What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

The blurring definition of waste in a 4.0 world – Part 2 of 2 – Robotic Process Automation

In part 1 of this series I took the example of Additive Manufacturing vs. traditional machining to explain the blurring definition of (Lean) waste and value. In this post, I propose another take with Robotic Process Automation (RPA). With RPA, some tasks considered unnecessary and wasteful in the classic Lean point of view are automated … Continue reading The blurring definition of waste in a 4.0 world – Part 2 of 2 – Robotic Process Automation

The blurring definition of Lean waste in a 4.0 world – Part 1 of 2 – Additive Manufacturing

Until recently in the Lean community, the definition of waste was “simple”: waste is any activity consuming resources without producing value for the customer. In this definition time can be  considered a resource and “customer” is extended to anyone beneficiary of the outcome, like a patient in a hospital getting faster and better care. Focusing … Continue reading The blurring definition of Lean waste in a 4.0 world – Part 1 of 2 – Additive Manufacturing

The success of a 4.0 transformation is strongly dependent on the initial conditions

The success of a 4.0 transformation in manufacturing (and industry at large) is particularly dependent on the initial conditions for its implementation. The “founding fathers” of Industry 4.0 and the organizations who help its implementation soon recognized the importance of a suitable “ground” as well as a number of prerequisites for a 4.0 transformation to … Continue reading The success of a 4.0 transformation is strongly dependent on the initial conditions

Lean: Waste in office work – part 2

In the first post of this series the focus was much about waste of human potential, that comes in many forms. In this second part reviews the 7 others wastes, first uncovered in manufacturing and later translated into office work. Office work isn’t as much prescribed in work instructions and standards as the work in … Continue reading Lean: Waste in office work – part 2

Lean: Waste in office work – part 1

When Lean principles got popular and begun to spread out of the manufacturing shop floor, the original 7 types of waste were translated into their equivalent in office environment. Yet office work is less standardized than manufacturing, offering people more freedom to organize themselves. Compared to precisely prescribed execution and streamlined operations in manufacturing, synchronized … Continue reading Lean: Waste in office work – part 1

Future of Lean: is a robotic motion a waste?

Motion and transportation count among the 7 basic muda or wastes, that should be eliminated or at least reduced to their bare minimum in order to be leaner. Now, with the probable rise of robotics, will robotic motion (and transportation) still be considered a waste? The Lean definition of waste is any consumption of resources, … Continue reading Future of Lean: is a robotic motion a waste?

Doing wrong things much better

I sincerely believe that experimenting with Lean tools was key to spread Lean awareness, ease the principles and tools acceptance and contribute to the Lean popularity. This was particularly okay in the “tools age”, when Lean was understood as a nice and handy toolbox. Yet limited and non sustainable successes were hints that Lean could … Continue reading Doing wrong things much better

The fallacy of bottom-up Lean initiatives – Part 1

Yes, Lean initiatives can be started bottom-up, but I doubt they’ll get very far and last for long. Here is why. Bottom-up Lean initiatives, e.i. improvements, are opportunities for improvement found by shopfloor people, line leaders or shop management. “Improvement” is most often understood in a broad meaning and bring up suggestions ranging from make … Continue reading The fallacy of bottom-up Lean initiatives – Part 1