Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ways I use Lean Thinking at Home

5S and Work Areas

5S, an aspect of Lean Thinking, is a system to arrange work areas as efficiently as possible. If every task whether a chore or hobby requires a search for necessary tools to get started, the likelihood of completing the task decreases. So throughout my home I organize work and hobby areas to make tasks easy to start and complete.

To maximize efficiency with gardening chores, I have a workstation with bug spray, sunscreen, and garden tools at 3 different locations. One is in a small greenhouse at the vegetable garden, one is in the garage, and the other is on the backyard deck. Wherever I am in my yard, a workstation stocked with tools is nearby. This saves time because I can begin gardening tasks without searching for tools. Looking 30 minutes for a favorite pair of gardening gloves is a reminder to keep my work areas organized.

Greenhouse Work Area

Indoors, each bathroom cabinet has cleaning supplies. This saves time and energy when I'm ready to clean. Otherwise wasted time and wasted movement is spent gathering cleaning supplies.

My office is arranged so things can be reached with little disruption to ongoing work. Files, notebooks, notepads, pens, and calendar are all in easy reach. Similarly, I have organized areas for photography, scrapbooking, and other hobbies.

Every 4 - 6 weeks, I reorganize work areas using the 5S system.  5S represents sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. So I replace supplies that are worn out or empty, dispose of items that I don't use, and tidy up the areas. I also make sure the more frequently used tools are convenient to reach and easy to find.

Backyard Work Area

Waste of Motion

Lean Thinking is all about reducing waste, and Shigeo Shingo classified 7 wastes. Waste of Motion is one I try to avoid at home. Many activities in the home can be standardized to reduce waste of motion. I collect a batch of bills and then pay them. Paying each bill as it arrives in the mail would involve opening the envelope, sorting the paperwork, logging into a website to make a payment or writing a check, recording the check or debit in the checkbook, and filing paperwork.  Processing a batch of bills at one time saves duplication of motion. Along the same lines, I let several cups and bowls accumulate on the counter before I open the dishwasher and load these items. Errands can be organized in a route rather than individual spontaneous trips. This saves gasoline and time, as well as reducing waste of motion.

Lean Thinking is using common sense to perform tasks in the most efficient manner. Before it was called "Lean Thinking" people were practicing it to get things done efficiently. Later, it was further defined to apply to workplaces. So go full circle with Lean: do it at work and do it at home, and you will be more productive for it!

In 2014, I wrote about the basics of Lean Thinking. You can access that post by clicking here.

Sunil Kaushik has written about using Lean Principles to minimize travel expenses to Egypt. Mr. Kaushik, an ASQ Influential Blogger, definitely has expertise in traveling cheap. The article can be found by clicking here.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Managing the Quality of Internet-linked Products

This month's American Society of Quality Influential Voices topic is a review of an essay in the 2015 Future of Quality report. If you are an ASQ member, you have access to this compilation on 11 topics.

Internet of Things

I chose Jonathan Zittrain's Balancing Security With Openness in the Internet of Things. Mr. Zittrain is the author of The Future of the Internet - And How to Stop It (for purchasing info see link below).

The term "Internet of Things" refers to all the devices that can connect to the internet and create systems to share data.

Below is a 2-minute video by Intel that explains the Internet of Things (IoT). Another video by FW:thinking can be found here.

 Internet of Things Video

Traffic cameras, electronic signs, and bus communication create an Internet of Things that can steer traffic away from congested areas. In Zittrain's essay, an Internet-aware snow shovel could provide data on frequency of use (Have the kids performed this chore?), health data on the shoveler (Is his heart rate dangerously high?), or assumptions on snow levels based on usage (Where do the snow plows need to go?).

Managing Quality

What are the quality issues of the Internet of Things? To answer that question Zittrain reviews the evolution of both the PC and the Internet. In the beginning anyone could write and share software to be used on PCs. Similarly, code for use on the Internet was unregulated.

The second version of the iPhone introduced an effort to gain more control over outside code (apps) by offering them in a store with required certification. Currently there are app stores for PCs and phones across all operating systems.

To meet quality manufacturing requirements, the product needs to be robust. It needs to be safely manufactured of nontoxic materials, as well. As devices become connected to one another, quality issues will expand.

Will connectivity to other devices be limited to reduce variability in quality issues or will it be open to increase innovation and demand? What quality issues will open connectivity present? Will viruses run rampant and slow device efficiency or cause frequent crashes? How many and what type of sensors will be incorporated into products for connectivity and data sharing?

Managing quality of the Internet of Things devices requires significant corporate decisions that are integral to their business plan. The proposed ISO9001:2015 standard emphasizes quality as part of the business plan and not a stand-alone entity. This falls right in line with establishing corporate policy on a product that is part of the Internet of Things.

Laurel Nelson-Rowe, ASQ managing director, introduced May topics in her guest blog post: What's the Future of Quality? This article is available without ASQ membership.

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