Real Lean Transformation

Preston Chandler's blog

Applying Lean to the Lab through Visual Management

The effort to make the work and processes visible, in a work environment, is called visual management. In general, there are a couple of key items for any successful application of visual management. 

Making Sense of the Chaos in Laboratories

To an outsider (and often even the insiders) laboratories can seem like a workplace hovering on the brink of chaos. The lab is constantly bombarded with hot requests for this lot or a special test for that project.  Investigations, vacations, changes in product, adjustments in mix, FDA inspections, equipment issues and narrowly specialized analysts can often add to this sense of chaos.  Usually it is difficult to see how work flows in the lab, if in fact it does flow.  It can also be next to impossible to identify what is “normal” behavior.  One of the critical steps in creating a Lean Lab is separating the routine (or in some cases, the most routine) from the non-routine or non-predictable.

What Carpenters can teach Lean Practitioners

A carpenter, attempting to frame a house, needs to attach different pieces of wood to each other. This carpenter has a fabulous hammer, and has used this hammer in the past, with nails, to complete this type of work. The hammer is weighted perfectly and with nominal effort can drive nails into wood with only a few strikes. The purpose or principle of the hammer is to join wood together by forcing a narrow wedge into multiple pieces of wood, thereby affixing the pieces to each other.

When Great Lean Tools Fail

You may have all seen the spaghetti diagram that took months to complete, yet provided very little in the way of results. Or, you’ve seen the standard work that was methodically created by external assessors using measuring tapes, stop watches and pages and pages of process steps; the type of work which never really lives up to your expectations. What is wrong here? Why do so many implementations of Lean Tools fail to live up to the expectations placed upon them, or have any sustainable results?  

Slow down… so that you can speed up.

Slow that you can speed up. Sounds like something Yoda would say. Component sub-optimization for increased system performance. 

Batch and Queue, very non-Lean… right? Think again

In the ideal world, yes, batch and queue mentalities are very non-Lean.  However, in the real world they can be a necessary and valuable step in approaching a stable and standardized environment.