Lean Training Consultancy.


Top Tips for a 5S Engineering Workshop

February 17th, 2011

Written By: Sean Cole – KCTS Consultant

Engineering Workshops come in all shapes and sizes and varying degrees of tidiness and organisation, however, most are not fit for purpose. A workshop that always looks dirty clearly needs 5S, but what If you see rows of shiny red tool boxes and clean benches, surely this does not need 5S? Just because a workshop is tidy, does not mean it is well organised. The fact that there is more than one toolbox tells you there is waste. As with all 5S, you have to start at the beginning and ask what tasks are performed in the workshop and how is it used as a base for engineering work elsewhere?

I have found that the starting position of most engineers when asked to organise their workshop is: It’s a workshop, it gets dirty; I haven’t got time to clean up; They are my tools, that’s why the box is locked; I need my own bench because then I know I will have a clean space to work. Clearly, there is always a lot of history, but this should not discourage you from ploughing onwards and making a start, history does not always dictate how a future 5S workshop will be organised, only the current required functions and operations can do this.

5S and workplace organisation are well documented, but I will give you my Top 5 Tips to getting 5S really working in an Engineering Workshop:

1. Engage as many engineers as possible is an open discussion about what the workshop is used for. Keep the focus on identifying current losses in those tasks; time to find, waste materials, cleaning time, task time. If there are time and motion issues, keep the discussion on track to “just for a short period, while we see how better it is to work”.

2. During Sort, the Red Tags have to be cleared! The problem with engineering items is they have a perceived high value. This was true when they were purchased, however, they are only worth the scrap metal weight as you don’t have the connections to sell them. If items are spares, put them in the stores system, then they can be easily found and used. All too often you have spares for large items of equipment, but engineers who have been with the company for less than 5 years don’t know where to find them.

3. The other main tip for Sort is how to clear the tools. These are often owned by the Engineers personally and there is a lot of emotion attached to them. There are two stages to this, in stage 1 start by opening up the boxes and taking each tool in turn and asking honestly when it was last used. Sort into three piles, one for in the last month, one for six months and the third pile for over six months. Be sure to split up sets of spanners and hex keys, just the ones being used. Document the contents of each pile of tools, get the engineers to take the third piles home. The first and second piles are placed back in the toolbox, the under a month pile at the top where they can easily be found. Now buy the combined tools from the third piles and place them on a tool board / shadow board in the workshop. After a few months working in this way, start stage 2, open the tool boxes again, document the tool use again to ensure there are no unneeded items. Now, buy one tool box for each person on a shift, i.e. 3 for 12 engineers to share across four shifts, buy the tools as per the combined lists and place laminated check lists inside the lids of the tool boxes. At shift handover, simply include the checking of tools against the lists.

4. During the Set In Order, make sure that work flow into and out of the workshop is the top priority in the proposed new layout and that there will only be one main workbench for everyone. For the weekly and month repeat tasks, create dedicated work cells laid out with tools and can bans for local spares.

5. What really makes the workshop function is having procedures and systems documented for everything; cleaning, work orders, tool storage, work-in-progress storage, dedicated cell tasks and Red Tag clearance. Keep the procedures simple, one page mostly pictures with clearly numbered steps. As soon as new tasks are identified, have the engineers write the procedures for these tasks. Finally, train out the procedures to all the engineers and include checks for them explicitly in the 5S audits.

If you would like to know more about how you can start 5S in your engineering workshop, please contact us here.

Skills Planning- before it is too late!

February 15th, 2011

Written By: Malcolm Newman – KCTS Consultant

Last week was national apprentice week in the UK. There were some exciting events and announcements about developing skills for young people in industry. There were new courses from universities and employers like British Airways, BAE Systems, Jaguar Land Rover Group and Nisan announcing new schemes and commitment to training.
At the same time we are hearing that there are major skills gaps in some industries. In engineering there is a wave of people who joined the industry 40 years ago are moving towards retirement.
This all reminds me of the need to keep a regular review of our skills requirements against those available in the operation.
As technology develops and business demands change skills planning is a fundamental business practice, one that is often forgotten or overlooked in the pressure to balance short term targets and costs. Whether you are running a small section or a global business; you must ensure you have the correct range of skills to deliver your business plan.
This is for the higher level planning but then we look at the specific skills needed to ensure we deliver products and services safely, on quality, on time and on cost.
A skills’ planning matrix and some advanced thought can make all the difference to business performance. Making sure you have more than just someone who can do the job; you need to have 3 people who can currently do the job and one of them who can train others to do the task. This is based on the assumption that your regular person is on holiday, the number 2 calls in sick but you still have the number 3 available who can do the task. You may have to do some juggling but the job can be done effectively.
Another benefit of having different people do the job is they can all bring different knowledge to the process and help drive the improvement process. All of this assumes you have standardised work instructions in place for training and as a platform for continuous improvement.
I remember visiting a production area and the supervisor pointing out with pride an assembler who was so good that when she was off work they needed 2 people to do her job! That was not relevant to my visit but later reflecting on this I wondered what made her so much more effective? Was she just super human or we did not understand her skill. She had developed a method that the business had not understood, captured and then trained others to the same standard. If they did that the job could continue to be run at the same cost, even when our super person is on holiday.
By keeping your team flexible and up to date on skills, it helps you understand and develop the overall skills in the organisation. Individuals can grow and develop skills as part their normal work. As new technologies are introduced the team learns and develops with it. You are not vulnerable to specific people as you know you have the skills available to operate safely and produce good products effectively. That’s one less thing to worry about then!

Top 5 things to do when launching a Planned Maintenance programme

February 10th, 2011

Written By: Stephen Ellis – KCTS Consultant

For those maintenance or production personnel contemplating introducing a planned maintenance programme, here, in no particular order, are the top 5 things to do:

1. Do you have the Leadership ‘will’ and commitment towards planned maintenance? To launch a planned maintenance system it will require resources – time, people, materials, systems. It will also require patience and persistence. Planned maintenance does NOT yield immediate results. It is important that the leadership understand:-

a. Why they have to have a planned maintenance system?

b. How to use a planned maintenance system to ensure it delivers effective results?

c. How to develop and create a planned maintenance programme?

2. Do you have a list of assets? To perform planned maintenance you need to understand your asset population and the detailed equipment information about each asset.

3. Where should you focus your planned maintenance resources and effort? With limited resources you will need to focus your resources based on priorities and need. Do you have any data or experience of what goes wrong, or where the risks are?

4. Do you understand the elements of a planned maintenance system – focus equipment and safe access to equipment, capable and available labour resources, available tools and materials, work standards and reporting, work scheduling, work and system review.

5. Do you have the necessary skills:-

a. To manage the planned maintenance system. Do you have to create the system? Is the system created? For both of these questions different skills are required.

b. To apply the planned maintenance tasks. Do you have the relevant skills to perform typical planned maintenance tasks – condition inspection, replacement, setting, calibrating, adjusting etc,?

If you would like to know more about how you can improve your planned maintenance programme effectiveness, please contact us.

Seeing is Believing

February 8th, 2011

February 8th, 2011

Written By: Matthew Treby – KCTS Technical Consultant

Have you ever been to an engineering or morning meeting when a problem is being discussed that could be a machine, breakdown or changeover? I have been to many and the meetings can turn into a long brain storming affair when everyone in the room puts forward their own personal theory on either what is happening or how to solve it convinced their solution is the correct one. Each person defends their solution vehemently to not loss face with the others. So as no one can agree the correct solution to go with each idea is tried systematically. The result is many man hours and a major investment in parts, redesign and time spent with the worst case scenario emerging that none of the solutions work.

Production Line Problem

Stop! a picture paints a thousand words and kills any confusion camcorders and cctv system are so affordable now they can be used in any Continuous Improvement program. How much better and more productive would the meeting be if footage of the problem was able to be played back during the meeting so everyone could see exactly what was happening. Even better when you can slow down the footage by watching in slow motion or frame by frame. Now brain storming is removed and a consensus on what was actually happening could be agreed on. All theories are vanquished and the solution is visible in the form of solid facts. A solution to the problem is now easy to identify and furthermore, has a chance of working first time as the team would all be on the same page.

Video and film are hugely influential in correctly diagnosing such problems. If everyone can see how the problem occurs, the guess work is avoided as the evidence is clear to see by all. People’s personal opinions can be confirmed or disregarded and the problem can be solved quickly and efficiently in terms of cost and manpower.

Many different cameras and many different ways can be used to capture problems. How do you record yours?

Are you using Self Assessment Audits to drive your success?

February 3rd, 2011

Written By: Paul Steven – KCTS Consultant

To control the quality of your products it is necessary to have an excellent understanding of the processes within your business. How are you judging your process performance?

Judging process performance of your systems can be measured externally and give you benefits, and it can be measured internally and give you different benefits. External audits can be objective, observation based and external audits measure a process compared to proven practices and experience. Internal audits can allow a much deeper understanding of the health of a process by assessors who use the process as part of their daily life.

Self Assessment is the process of allowing you to use a standardised audit to measure your process against an aspiration. Externally supplied Self Assessments allow you to measure your own progress against industry-standard aspirations or philosophical aspirations. Internal Self Assessments, especially when written yourself, allow you to measure the success of a process against internal aspirations.

Recently I have had the privilege to work with a customer on converting an external Self Assessment, supplied by KCTS, into an internal Self Assessment aligned to the company’s aspirations for the next 2 years. This allowed the language of the audit to be altered and the direction given by the company to be woven into the questions. This particular Self Assessment dealt with 5S, a subject close to my heart, and related to whether the process was truly embracing the Plan-Do-Check-Act philosophy needed to sustain and improve 5S within the workplace. My customer was at first keen to include specific documentation audits as a way to assess the success of the 5S processes, but as we discussed 5S processes and Plan-Do-Check-Act the need to evolve the processes became evident. This internal Self Assessment must look for the evidence of delivery of the process more than restricting it to a documentation checklist. Self Assessment allows reflection on whether the processes or the personalities are driving successes.

The resulting internal Self Assessment also has clear scoring criteria to allow every person within the area to understand and judge their current performance within the process. Targets are being agreed to ensure the audit is progressive. Self Assessment requires discipline to ensure that the score does not rise based on a need to show progress as openness must be the priority whenever Self Assessment is deployed.

To summarise, external assessment allows you to be compared to others but when written correctly Self Assessment allows you to compare yourself against your own aspirations.

Not Another Meeting!!!

February 1st, 2011

Written By: Cordell Hensley – KCTS Consultant

When was the last time you went to a meeting and walked out at the end and said “That was time well spent”? If you have a job, then odds are, you usually have the opposite opinion at the end of most meetings – you walk out thinking “that was a waste of my time”.

I used to sit in some meetings and count the number of people, figure an average annual salary and then calculate how much money the company was wasting discussing whatever happened to be the topic. I was once in a meeting with 27 managers, averaging around £38,000 in annual salaries and we were discussing what we should do with the cleaning kit on the shop floor! You can imagine how happy I was to be there!

It doesn’t have to be that way! Meetings, while technically Non Value Added (NVA) activities, can be an effective way of ensuring that progress is made, that people are on track and to provide support or at least the opportunity to ask for support. They can also be places to make decisions, assign responsibility for actions and to communicate important issues.

How do we ensure that our meetings are effective? The first thing to do is to ensure we are clear about the purpose of the meeting. A friend of mine once went to a meeting and began by asking the person who had called him to the meeting “what are we here for?” The response was to get agreement on the way forward for a specific project. Since my friend had already been briefed and was in agreement he replied – “Good – I agree, let’s get back to work!” By checking the purpose of the meeting first, he was able to save himself and his colleague an hour of DPP (Death by Power Point).

There are other things we can do to ensure our meetings are as efficient and effective as possible; having an agenda that everyone has seen in advance allows people to come prepared. Sticking to time and ensuring any side discussions are held until after the meeting also helps. Even assigning someone the role of watching the time and keeping people on track can ensure the meeting doesn’t run long or off track.

Meetings are almost an inevitable – like Death & Taxes – but they don’t have to be painful. With a little preparation and agreement of the purpose in advance, a meeting can be an effective tool for managing any business.

If you would like to know more about how you can improve your meeting effectiveness, please contact us here.

Are you ready for your Lean Journey?

January 27th, 2011

Written By: Cordell Hensley – KCTS Consultant

I recently ran a half marathon, not fast and it was quite painful. This is partly because I didn’t seek out advice before I started running, as Nike would say, Just Do It! I did. In retrospect I should have checked with the experts, my doctor & a trainer to determine whether or not I was ready and to put me on the correct training plan to ensure that I didn’t hurt myself. They could have also given me advice to get the most out of my training and even helped me along the way with motivation, direction, guidance and general support.

When we start out on the journey towards world class its very similar. We should have the doctor over to give us a health check and we should have a trainer help us develop the appropriate training and performance plan. Having outside support on our journey offers many advantages and it will ensure that we approach the journey with the right mindset, the right expectations and with the support already in place for when we get frustrated and de-motivated.

This health check doesn’t have to be intense, we are not trying out for the space programme, but we do need to establish a clear picture of our starting position. It’s great to know where you want to go, but if you are not sure where you are, how do you know which way to go.

A Lean Health Check should identify your current position and the best path to take to get you moving, get some quick wins and build the right PACE into your programme to ensure you are successful. Looking at areas such as Leadership, Culture, Capability and Systems & Procedures the Lean Health Check should provide an understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and should ensure that you begin your journey properly.

Already started down on the journey? Finding things are not progressing as they should? Maybe you should have had the doctor & trainer in to determine the appropriate path for you to take; fortunately it’s not too late. The Lean Health check is also able to assist those who have started and fallen behind or lost their way – it helps them get back on track by identifying where they went wrong and establishes a clear path to get back on track.

If you’re thinking about improving your performance, take the advice heard so often in physical fitness, get a doctor in and a trainer and let them help you determine your current position and develop a good plan going forward. There’s no need to go it alone.

Which Step of Your CI Journey Are You On?

January 25th, 2011

“7 Steps of Every Change”

Written By: Paul Steven – KCTS Consultant

How is your business coping with the challenge of introducing dramatic improvements today? Are you familiar with the 7 Steps of Every Change? Do you know how to use these steps to deliver the change you want in your business? You can learn here how to use them quickly and effectively for results starting today.

The “7 Steps of Every Change” can be described in many ways, but countless companies rely on navigating through their changes successfully using the following interpretation.

  1. Unfreeze the complacency, by demonstrating the urgent need for change
  2. Create Change Agentswho have a common Vision & measureable Objectives
  3. Communicate “Every Day in Every Way” about the change
  4. Generate Quick Wins to associate the change with success.
  5. Include & Grow the number of people involved in the change
  6. Deliver the Full Plan including its difficult actions (80+20) before Step 7
  7. Refreeze the standards (written or social) but include a way to challenge


The first part of using the “7 Steps of Every Change” is to unfreeze the complacency within your business for continuing as it is now. If there is no urgent, emotional, driving need within the business for this change to occur, business inertia will stop the change dead in its tracks. The logical reasons for the change may be clear and demonstrable, but the burning desire to change needs to be lit around the business. You must target key Stakeholders but include everyone related to the change.

Once key Stakeholders are emotionally engaged in changing, they need help delivering. Change Agentsare people aligned to a Vision of the business after the change, they are the people ready to get involved and make the change happen. You need make sure the team of Change Agents have a common Vision and measureable Objectives. Their alignment is crucial to the success of your change.

Change Agents make things happen and people like to hear about those successes. People actively want to participate in successful, interesting and honest change. This is why communication, generating quick wins and including & growing the number of people involved in the change is a virtuous circle. This circle is formed around the concepts of challenging, learning & applying and sustaining.  Steps 3, 4 & 5 are the enablers to ensure Step 6 is possible.

You may have been taught about the Pareto Rule than 80% of the outcome is often controlled by 20% of the actions. It is tempting to only implement those 20% of the actions and move on. When you deliver the full plan, the ability to sustain become apparent. The actions with no merit should not be included in any plan, but actions which deliver the full change correctly and honestly will pay dividends in the culture of your business. Before the standards related to a change are refrozen, you must conclude the plan.

Refreezing the standards and culture of your business after the change requires another emotional content. A celebration, however modest, is needed to allow people to reflect on the actions completed, the changes delivered and the new ways. As changes become a necessary cycle of all business, when refreezing you must put in place systems to allow challenge within the business. The next unfreeze will be needed at some time in the future.

Start today with unfreezing any of your complacency of what can and cannot change. You’re then one step closer to continuous improvement becoming “normal” culture. Kaizen is improving a little everyday and keeping that improvement you made.

Apprentice Challenge

December 23rd, 2010

For immediate release


 Apprentice Challenge

 KCTS delivers a motivation and values programme for apprentices at a major UK Aerospace company.

 Wirral, UK. 22nd November 2010.

A major UK Aerospace company approached KCTS with the challenge of motivating and instilling a higher level of values as part of its apprentice training programme. The company was concerned that its apprentices were not being suitably challenged by their education placements or integrated into their work placements. The company is investing a lot in its future with these apprentices and wanted to ensure that they would be capable of delivering success as they progress their careers within the company.                                                                                                                                          

The Apprentice Challenge was designed and developed to fulfil this objective and inspire them to be successful. The programme has three distinct phases; Preparation – apprentices are remotely formed into teams and tackle a set challenge; Challenge Event – apprentices compete against each other in teams while learning new team working skills, what success is, how to achieve it and what it feels like to be successful; Support – 100 day reviews throughout the year to constantly challenge the apprentices to be all they can be and to succeed.

The Challenge Event was a great success, hosted at the home of the WWII code breakers at Bletchley Park. The apprentices are now going through the year long Support programme, which will continue to build and develop their personal planning, communication and problem solving skills. Most importantly, it will inspire them to have a higher set of values, helping them to be successful, for both for their own and the company’s futures. The success of the programme has generated considerable interest within the company and within other companies who have similar apprentice training programmes.

About KCTS

KCTS are located on the Wirral peninsula and are an international training & consultancy provider of specialist World Class Manufacturing (WCM) standards. Delivering TPM, Lean, Change Management and Policy Deployment programmes to the manufacturing and service industries Worldwide. Through these proven methodologies KCTS can reduce costs by identifying and removing losses within a process or value stream. For further information regarding this press release or KCTS, please contact; KCTS on 0151 608 9036 or visit www.kcts.co.uk


The Do’s & Don’ts of Dealing with the “Nay-sayers”

December 2nd, 2010

Written by: Cordell Hensley – KCTS Lean Consultant

If you’ve ever tried to make a change at work or implement a new policy, programme or project you have surely run into one of these characters; the ones who say “we’ve tried that before”, “it won’t work here”, or “here comes another management fad or flavour of the month”.  How you deal with these people can be the difference between the success and failure of your project. Even if they are not in a position to influence the project, they can sure make things difficult for you as the change agent. So the question is “how should we deal with these people”?

The first thing I would suggest is that we attempt to avoid it in the first place; we can often do this simply by communicating early, often & well. We talk about communication all the time, and we see good and bad examples of it. The better your communication with people involved in or affected by a change, the better that change will be accepted, implemented and sustained.

The second – and a lead into the first – is to expect resistance. Often the problem is that managers often think their ideas are so great, why wouldn’t the staff want to do this, that or the other thing? If we don’t expect the resistance, we will not be prepared for it. If we are not prepared for it, then we have a good chance of facing it.

If we have failed to anticipate it, or have anticipated it but been unable to stop it through effective communication then the first thing I would suggest is to try to find out where the negativity is coming from. Is it inherent in their personality (yes, there are people like that out there), is it the memory of a bad experience, have they been through many of these before or is it just the fear of the unknown or of change itself? Understanding where the negativity is coming from should help you deal with it and in many cases allows you to resolve the issues with the person or people who are resisting the project.

Depending on the reasoning behind the resistance the possibilities for dealing with it are many. Some suggestions for things NOT to do:

Don’t goad or push people into something they are uncomfortable with. You may have to force change through in the end but if you at least make attempts to understand the feelings and concerns of the resistors then you have a chance of allaying the fears or resolving the issue. If you force through the change without this “step” you could possibly make an enemy for life.

Don’t let emotions get involved. We are at work, this is not personal (or at least it shouldn’t be) and the more we can keep it on a professional level, the easier it will be to get to a resolution. Emotions build and people get more and more upset and nobody wins.

Don’t “lock horns”. When you are at an impasse or if things are not going well with this person, step away, take a break and resolve to come back later after putting some thought into how to approach the situation/person better.

Regardless of the reasoning behind the resistance there are plenty of Do’s as well:

Do listen and engage with people. Often the biggest issue people have is that they feel like mushrooms – kept in the dark and fed &^%$. Speak to them, communicate with them and treat them as humans- often this is enough to get past the resistance.

Do try to understand their point of view. While we may not always agree with it, resolving differences of opinion often requires the understanding of the other’s views. If we refuse to see things from their perspective, why should we expect them to see things from ours?

Do try to find some common ground. You may not be able to agree on everything, but if you can find some common ground then you have a position that you can move forward together from. Often in disagreements it is much less about the issue at hand, and more about the way we work with people. Finding common ground allows us to feel like we are on the same side. It reduces the barriers which will always help.

Resistance to change is normal, we can probably all admit to being that person at least once in our career. How we deal with it and the people putting it forward says a lot about us and who we are and it can be the difference between a successful project and a failure.



KCTS Ltd © 2009. All rights reserved. Use of this website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use.