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Making Lean Management a Top-to-Bottom Effort

Patrick Sondreal

My colleague Meg Hanaman and I have been speaking a lot lately about the implementation of Steel Business System (SBS) methodology into our Continuous Improvement and Lean manufacturing efforts. As you can imagine with a company of our size, this is a huge undertaking that has already resulted in many process improvements across all departments.

I’d like to take this opportunity to provide an update on these improvement initiatives for our Minnesota operations. These teams are currently performing or revisiting existing Leader Standard Work (LSW) for every level of leadership in each department, Critical To Quality (CTQ) initiatives, and training and comprehension efforts.

Using Leader Standard Work to Maintain Better Standards

LSW is a set of rules and tasks that are deemed essential to sustaining Lean management initiatives. We take a three-pronged approach with the goal of enhancing leadership routines and engagements:

  1. Review daily, weekly, and monthly tasks by each leadership level in each department
  2. Evaluate which tasks should be assigned/align to which leaders (stop, start, continue, transform)
  3. Formalize Gemba walks (where Lean managers can observe processes in action) for each leadership level in each department to build in-depth leadership understanding of our many processes

Lean Management Starts with Training and Comprehension

Different people learn in different ways, which means we have to meet learners where they are to effectively communicate Lean and CI initiatives. Our review of training and comprehension efforts is also split into three sections:

  1. Enhance training with more photos and videos of proper procedures
  2. Deploy knowledge assessments with required passing scores for all new hires and refreshers for veteran operators
  3. Add eight additional languages to CTQ training, to support non-native English speakers

The goal of this initiative is to add visual support (like SQDIP) to operator training and proficiency assessments, and reduce complexity of jobs.

What We Learned from Our Critical To Quality Efforts

The CTQ effort works to make our processes mistake-proof and is currently tied to the Minnesota Lettershops in Chanhassen and Little Falls. At its core, CTQ works to eliminate risk whenever possible. This approach consists of two parts: identifying the most critical to quality standards in each department and holding Kaizens to identify, prioritize, and then determine solutions to mitigate risks to ensure the most optimal processes.

The results from our first CTQ Kaizen are very impressive:

  • 54 opportunities for improvement were identified during observations
  • 27 potential root causes identified with Fishbone diagram and 5-Why approach
  • Top 10 drivers of risk determined by multi-voting
  • 25 brainstormed solutions identified through Six Hats Brainstorm
  • 10 solutions and five project proposals identified through effort/impact matrix

The CTQ Kaizen also identified specific action items:

  • Leadership
    • Assign clear ownership for removing leftover materials from machines
  • Training
    • Enhance skillsets for techs and apprentices
  • Visual Aids and Process enhancements
    • Simplify job tickets/tailor to specific departments’ needs
    • Relocate red spoilage trays away from finished production
  • Mistake proofing
    • Automate quality assurance (QA) pulls (invest in inline scanners/cameras/software for QA pulls)
    • Install thickness calipers to detect double card/live

We’re working toward implementing these changes while continuing our efforts to improve our systems and processes across the IWCO Direct platform. If you have questions concerning our Continuous Improvement initiatives, feel free to reach out to me and be sure to subscribe to SpeakingDIRECT for more updates.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2019/05/31/lean-management-process-improvements/
Patrick Sondreal


Patrick Sondreal

Chief Production Officer. Graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison with an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Commissioned officer of the U.S. Navy who brings a commitment to teamwork and continuous improvement to IWCO Direct every day. Wisconsin Badger fan who loves being part of his kids’ activities.

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