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Posts Tagged ‘Continuous Improvement’

Getting more results from 5S Standardise & Sustain

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

By Paul Steven – KCTS Consultant

When working with a customer recently on 5S, they asked about taking the next steps after successfully completing 3S’s (Sort, Set-in-order & Shine) for the first time. In their eyes, all they needed to do was write up the standards on what to keep, where to keep it and how often to clean and that was job done. As I explained, the write up of such standards is very important but how were they to sustain, and even improve, these standards?

5S Standardise & Sustain

I explained my perspective to this customer, the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is a crucial element of sustaining all improvements. We must plan the physical changes and plan the documentation changes, just as they had, and then execute these plans. They had executed the physical changes and had yet to complete the documentation changes required for their first cycle of 5S. But once they have these documents, is that the end? Not when using Plan-Do-Check-Act, the Check-Act part requires us to review the results achieved from executing our plans and then act to attain more results, including better standards and better adherence to standards.

This had not been their perspective, but they were convinced once we discussed their next continuous improvement strategies. 5S has one of the best return-on-investments of any improvement strategy. This is in part due to its very simple conceptual model. This model can be applied to any area, real or virtual (such as when applying to IT systems rather than work places). The power of 5S is that you can continue to improve results without increasing the complexity of the model, no further training, nor confusion over tools, but merely focusing on more detail within the area.

The next steps for the customer related to fully integrating the changes across their 3 shifts. The people involved in the changes were from a single shift and whilst they had committed to the changes made, both physically and via the upcoming documentation, what about those with less involvement? Check-Act gave an opportunity for them to become involved, the next cycle could build upon the areas where they continued to have ambiguous or missing standards. This is what Standardise and Sustain is all about. We must create a baseline for further improvement.

They were persuaded that reviewing the standards was not failure but in fact part of the process. This change in perspective allowed the truth on some of the short-cuts taken to come out. The consultation method on items locations, which we had agreed before executing the plan, had not been as thoroughly used as they would have been preferred. They also noted that there was much that could still be found around the entire area to improve.

My customer is now excited that Standardising allows them this baseline to move forward and that Sustaining is all about supporting the next cycle of Sort, Set-in-order & Shine by capturing enthusing the teams to use and report their finding every day on the standards in their area. This data can came via audits or using people’s experience written onto Team Boards. Each team can find ways to improve the standards they use every day once Plan-Do-Check-Act is embraced.

If you would like to know more about delivering change everyday through your own people, please contact us here.

Skills Planning- before it is too late!

Tuesday, 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!

Which Step of Your CI Journey Are You On?

Tuesday, 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.

Policy Deployment – Hoshin Kanri

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010
Written By: Paul Steven – KCTS Consultant

Simple Tips to Make Real Improvement Today

If you were set the challenge to introduce dramatic improvements into your business today, where would you start? Do you have a clear goal for your business? Have you written down your vision of how the business will look or feel after the improvement? Can you describe that difference clearly to your colleagues?

If you can, you are well on your way to achieving success. If not, it’s not too late. Creating a clear communication of where your business should be in a fixed timeline can require a steely nerve and determination to succeed, but if realistically set and delivered this will inspire people to follow you on your improvement journey.

Why do I mention that the vision should be realistically set and achievable within a set time? Energy and pace are needed within your business as fuel for the improvements which drive change. The energy and pace of success and deadlines gives a virtuous cycle. If vision is too far away and too difficult, support is hard won with many battles.

Once the vision is in place, both objectives and metrics of measuring success are needed. Objectives help communicate to all the senses what will be different once improvements aligned to the vision are delivered. Metrics, also called indicators or key performance indicators (KPIs), ensure that the improvements are accounted for, either in money, units of performance or a value which can be tracked over time to show progress.

So you may ask if having the vision, objectives and metrics aligned ensures that the improvements will be delivered? I would recommend taking the next step to list and prioritise the actions needed to make the vision, objectives and metrics actually happen. The prioritise actions are put against realistic time lines to create a Master Plan.

But will the plan guarantee success? Only if you live the plan! You must review it everyday. You must look at the intention of the actions and align your daily tasks. You must become an inspiration to your colleagues and lead all involved in delivering their part of the plan. Only by making small steps every day will you guarantee the dramatic changes needed for your business.

Start today and you’re one step closer to continuous improvement becoming “normal” culture. Kaizen is improving a little everyday and keeping that improvement you made.

KCTS Resource Issue 10 – October 2010

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
Written by: Lee Oxton

We have just released issue 10 of the KCTS Resource: This month we’ll be taking a look at how best to use Value Stream Mapping to identify waste in any process and then to eliminate the waste, creating reliable, flexible processes that meet customer demand in the most effective way.

There are also the regular features, including; a couple of Lean/TPM puzzles to test your mind with;  a Case Study on a Train The Trainer course we ran; and we’ll be catching up with KCTS consultant, Steve Ellis, and finding out what he has been up too over the last 6 months.

Also our free downloads this month include knowledge sheets on Authority & Escalation and Hazards & Hazardous Substances. Plus you will be able to download the PDF of this month’s KCTS Resource, all for Free!

Ask Us a Question

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
Written By: Lee Oxton

We recently had a number of people sending in questions through our free ‘Ask Us a Question’ service, so this is a good opportunity to remind everyone of exactly what this is;

We provide this unique free online service so that users can have direct access to a resident business consultant, and can email us a question that will be answered within 4 hours. The KCTS business consultants have very diverse backgrounds, providing training and advice that spans across a wide variety of industries, both in manufacturing and service.

Our job is all about helping other companies to become more efficient and remain competitive and we achieve this through the training and coaching of a number of improvement tools such as; Lean, Total Productive Maintenance and Six Sigma.
We ultimately assist organisations in the Master planning and creation of initiatives which are driven by loss & cost reduction and have found that our knowledge and advice is well respected in these circles.

By offering this online service we can now assist in, and take, all types of questions relating to Continuous Improvement, Lean Processes, Six Sigma and Total Productive Maintenance methodologies, not just from our clients but from anywhere.  We wanted to offer a free-to-use practical sounding board, and a best practice advisory service, where anyone can contact us with a question and we can reply back with little or no fuss whatsoever.

The Ask Us a Question Service is available from our website, all you need is an email address so that we can reply to your question.

KCTS Resource Issue 7 – March 2010

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
written by: Lee Oxton



Hello and welcome to the first Issue of the KCTS Resource for 2010. This year we’ll be producing the Resource on a bi-monthly rota. In-between issues we’ll also be sending out a newsletter once a month with snippets of our recent blog posts, just in case there are any previous postings that may interest you.

In this March edition we’ll be looking at why factories fail to benefit from Loss Measurement; we’ll be talking about the number of reasons why this is so, in order to give you a clear insight into this methodology.

We also provide a feature on Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and how the purpose of this tool is to take actions to eliminate or reduce failures, starting with the highest-priority ones.

In addition to the above we’ve also got our regular features including; Meet a Consultant – introducing our Managing Director, Charles Johnston; a Case Study on SMED, focussing on an injection moulding machine; some Lean/TPM puzzles to test your knowledge and don’t miss the press release about our high level TPM Instructor course and World class training being held in Shanghai.

In our free downloads section we’ll be sticking with the SMED theme and offering you a A0 SMED activity board, as well as the opportunity to download a EWO (Enhanced Work Order) worksheet. We’ll also show you how to use it with a ‘How to Do’ EWO sheet, not bad for free!

Lean Qualification

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Value for Money – Recognition where it counts


As the UK markets start to show signs of recovery, how will businesses and individuals prepare themselves for growth, and more importantly where will we look for our future competitive advantage? One business process that has gained credibility throughout the recession is Lean Manufacturing. Responsible for the slimming down of a sector that was once ‘eating for two’, how do we continue on with these successes?

One possible solution would be to accredit the engineers and process operators (the backbone of the manufacturing industry whom have muddled us through recession – burdened with cost reduction frenzies) with formal recognition and qualifications.

KCTS has recently launched a new Lean Qualification that offers a range of continuous improvement skills to employees within production, quality and engineering roles. The qualification is made up of a number of units, the selection of which can be tailored to the needs of the employers overall Lean Programme and the candidate’s personal job role.

Candidates are engaged in short practical workshops that are focused around a key project. The project is selected within the learners work area and aligns with overall business KPI’s.  A typical project may involve;

•    Gathering data history for loss and waste.
•    Conducting a 5S audit of a work area.
•    Root cause analysis.
•    Creation of a plan to solve losses and improve a work area (5S).
•    Training out new SOP’s to colleagues.
•    Following a Plan, Do, Check, Act, methodology.
•    Sustaining improvement for a period of at least one month.
•    Reporting of actual benefits gained by the improvements.
•    Portfolio of evidence that demonstrates a lean process has been followed.

Candidates are assessed and guided every two to three weeks and always work to an action plan. Encouragement is given to communicate findings and potential solutions with front line managers.

Employee Benefits
For those who complete the KCTS Lean Qualification there are benefits to be had, such as;

• Recognising potential hazards in the workplace and knowing what procedures to follow in an emergency.
• Establishing and maintaining effective working relationships.
• Communicating effectively in the workplace.
• Understanding the principles and benefits of the 5S and Kaizen approaches to continuous improvement.
• Carrying out visual management activities in the workplace.
• Identifying potential problems and using appropriate problem solving technique to tackle them.

A Lean Qualification shows that an employee has reached a recognised national standard in Continuous Improvement methodology.

Employer Benefits
Employers receive a number of benefits by engaging their employees in a KCTS Lean Qualification, including:

•    An overall shift in culture towards one that supports reduced losses, reduced costs and increased customer satisfaction.
•    Employees who feel empowered to make their work place better.
•    Employees who see their job as more than just “turn up every day”.
•    A group of employees who have been leading change rather than being unwitting participants.
•    In the most part financially better off than cost neutral, and even more so in those cases where improvements are sustained.
•    Candidates directly involved with improvement projects are more likely to be involved with maintaining the results.

Aimed at continuous improvement engineering/maintenance craft, process operators, quality personnel, supervisors and managers who are seeking to become qualified in Lean.

KCTS Supports the Aerospace Sector

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
Written by: Lee Oxton


Picture of Typhoon Aircraft

For those of you who don’t know, KCTS is member of the North West Aerospace Alliance and has been for the past 3 years. We are continuing our support for this sector in 2010 with our ongoing membership and alliances for companies across all tiers.

Over a 4 year period, the NWAA Aerospace Supply Chain Excellence (ASCE) Programme aims to work with 45 Companies to build a world competitive supply chain in the Northwest of England. The ASCE Programme aims to do this by introducing Mentors from World  Class companies into selected smaller businesses to assist in the development.

Companies are benchmarked against the “5 Step Learner to World Class Model” against 11 foundation processes to achieve a detailed view of current position and providing training and coaching to improve key areas. The ASCE Programme provides businesses with the tools and techniques to improve their capability across 11 key areas and KCTS will continue to support this sector in 2010 and beyond.

Measures of Lean Performance

Monday, November 30th, 2009

KCTS Resource October edition supplement 2.

Measures should be used to understand the performance of a business or department. This can be to benchmark against other operations for comparison.
The measures will also demonstrate improvements achieved through the application of Business Improvement Techniques. Measuring the initial condition of an area before making improvements is vital.

Measures of performance in lean



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