Sustain the Gain (Part 3)

Are you ready to bring this one home?  We have been looking at how John’s team made some great improvements with a yield improvement Kaizen on their filler. Unfortunately we saw in part 1 that things just didn’t work out like John and his team thought they would.  We have already looked at a few reasons why this could happen: poor problem solving, poor communication, or the lack of standard work procedures (see parts one and two).  Let’s bring it home by looking at the last two reasons:

  1. Even if the team has good countermeasures for true root causes and have communicated the standardized tasks to the current operators, John and the team need to have plans in place for continued training.  John found that the vacation relief operator did not know about the new best practice when his 1st shift operator went on vacation.  Making the new standardized tasks part of the training program will ensure that the new operators are trained on the latest and most up to date best practices.  Establishing a system so that all currently qualified operators are trained on the new best practices is critical as well.  Nothing reduces standard work quicker than new workers that either have not been trained or do things their own way (i.e. not the established best practice).  Standardized tasks must be part of the new operator-training program. Moreover, the way work is done and approved must be consistent with the established SOP. 
  2. Best Practices need to be updated when an even better practice is developed.  Plants that do not have a system in place to improve upon their Best Practices will have Operators following their own best practice when they see fit.  SOP’s must be living documents to be effective.  Build a culture where improvement ideas are brought forward for consideration and where the SOP’s are followed until authorized trials or changes are in place. 

John and the team have taken their Root Cause Analysis to a true root cause and have implemented the countermeasures.  They have resolved the communication issues and have standardized their improvements and have made these standardized tasks part of their training program.  They are well on their way to enjoying the improved results but they are not done yet.  John has learned his lesson and he is a step ahead of the next potential obstacle to the team’s success.  John’s team will be measuring for the desired results on a regular basis and meeting for ongoing data analysis. In any food processing environment yield, rework and change –over times are critical measures. If your plant does not have production line metrics or key performance indicators (KPI’s) it will be impossible to measure continuous improvement initiatives. Furthermore, operators and mechanics need to have specific line metrics to assist with informed and effective decision making. Continued measurements and data analysis is required to ensure that the changes are achieving the expected results. After a Root cause countermeasure is implemented data analysis requires the comparison of an outcome to the baseline standard. 

Any one of these issues could easily derail John’s team. Certainly the issues presented here have impeded many improvement efforts.  It seems like a lot of things can go wrong with improvement efforts and they can.  Don’t be discouraged though.  You will learn to look out for the common mistakes with experience and following the Deming (PDCA) Cycle will help you to uncover these issues before it’s too late.

Bottom line:  Leaders must be responsible for ensuring the team is following an improvement process that uses systems for sustained results. The right process will produce the right results. 

Until next time,
Dr. Glen Miller & Christian Paulsen
Lean Leadership


The preceding is the third of a three part series of posts on Sustaining the Gain when implementing Lean improvements.  It is co-authored by Dr. Glen Miller and Christian Paulsen and was originally posted on ConsumerGoodsClub.

Please leave a comment below if you liked this article. You can also connect on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, subscribe via e-mail (right side bar), retweet, digg, or stumble this article.  You can check out my Facebook page and continue the discussion there as well.  Your feedback is appreciated. preceding is the third of a three part series of posts on Sustaining the Gain when implementing Lean improvements.  It is co-authored by Dr. Glen Miller and Christian Paulsen and originally posted at at The Consumer Goods Club. You can start at the beginning of Sustain the Gain by clicking here.

I recognize that some readers are not working in manufacturing settings and many may not have been in a food plant before.  This video is of a Pacific filler which is common in food manufacturing.  


About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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