10 Practical Methods to reduce Lead time

Most of those techniques are developed from the manufacturing sector, but many can be applied to many other sectors to (1) reduce lead time with the existing resources, and (2) develop new systematic approaches for long-term development.

Capture Reasons

It is essential to capture a reason and duration for each Lead time incident to enable the team to effectively prioritize and focus. Start simple, with no more than 25 reasons, one of which should be ‘All Other Losses’. Make sure every reason is clear (when compared with other reasons) and describes symptoms (as opposed to attempting to diagnose root causes). Remove reasons that aren’t regularly used and add reasons as needed to ensure that ‘All Other Losses’ is not in the top ten losses.

Focus on the Constraint

Every manufacturing process has a constraint, which is the fulcrum (i.e., the point of leverage) for the entire process. Measure Lead time at the constraint and improve the constraint to ensure that resources are focused where they will have the strongest impact on throughput and profitability.

Select Metrics to Drive Desired Behaviors

Metrics that are emphasized and shared are very powerful drivers of behavior. Treat Lead time as a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) and continually reinforce its importance. People love an opportunity to win, so set SMART targets (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Specific) and reward success, even if it’s by simple recognition.

Make Lead Time Visual

Provide clear visuals to indicate when the line is down, and escalate those visuals if the line remains down for an extended period of time. Train team members to react quickly, and provide multiple levels of escalation response (e.g., operator, supervisor, manager). The goal is to prevent small issues from becoming large incidents.

Quick Fix Immediately; Escalate 100-Year Fixes

Look at resolving each Lead Time loss in one of two ways:

■ Quick Fix (move forward with an immediate fix that can be implemented without outside resources)

■ 100-Year Fix (escalate a problem that needs outside resources to engineering or management for a permanent fix)

Perform a 3S Blitz

A clean and organized work environment creates better conditions for well-running equipment, which is why 5S is the foundation of TPM. A 3S blitz applies the same principles in the form of a one-off exercise: Sort (eliminate what is not needed), Set in Order (organize what remains), and Shine (clean and inspect equipment).

Perform a Maintenance Blitz

Most equipment has wear parts (e.g., seals, gaskets, bearings, belts, and rollers) that can cause breakdowns as they reach the end of their operational life. Check that all wear parts are in good condition and replace any parts that are suboptimal.

Mark Optimum Settings

When equipment settings are continually tweaked by operators, supervisors, and engineers they are less likely to be optimal and more likely to create conditions for Lead time. Decide and mark optimal settings.

Perform Hourly Reviews

Set up a whiteboard next to the production area. Every hour, hold a three-minute stand-up meeting at the whiteboard to update performance, identify the largest Lead time incident from the last hour, and agree on one improvement action for the next hour. This is a simplified version of Short Interval Control.

Only Change One Thing at a Time

When fixing a Lead time issue, make one change at a time. Often, multiple changes are made at the same time, without individually checking their impact on the equipment. This makes it much harder to diagnose problems and evaluate the effectiveness of solutions.

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