lean plus six-sigma not lean six-sigma

Free 5S Office Audit Checklist


Download the Free 5S Office Audit Checklist by clicking on the link below:


5S is a reference to a list of five Japanese words which, transliterated and translated into English, start with the letter S and are the name of a methodology. This list is a mnemonic for a methodology that is often incorrectly characterized as “standardized cleanup”, however it is much more than cleanup. 5S is a philosophy and a way of organizing and managing the workspace and work flow with the intent to improve efficiency by eliminating waste, improving flow and reducing process unevenness.

What is 5S?

5S is a method for organizing a workplace, especially a shared workplace (like a shop floor or an office space), and keeping it organized. It’s sometimes referred to as a housekeeping methodology, however this characterization can be misleading, as workplace organization goes beyond housekeeping (see discussion of “Seiton” below).

The key targets of 5S are workplace morale, safety and efficiency. The assertion of 5S is, by assigning everything a location, time is not wasted by looking for things. Additionally, it is quickly obvious when something is missing from its designated location. Advocates of 5S believe the benefits of this methodology come from deciding what should be kept, where it should be kept, and how it should be stored. This decision making process usually comes from a dialog about standardization which builds a clear understanding, between employees, of how work should be done. It also instills ownership of the process in each employee.

In addition to the above, another key distinction between 5S and “standardized cleanup” is Seiton. Seiton is often misunderstood, perhaps due to efforts to translate into an English word beginning with “S” (such as “sort” or “straighten”). The key concept here is to order items or activities in a manner to promote work flow. For example, tools should be kept at the point of use, workers should not have to repetitively bend to access materials, flow paths can be altered to improve efficiency, etc.

The 5S’s are:

  • Phase 1 – Seiri (??) Sorting: Going through all the tools, materials, etc., in the plant and work area and keeping only essential items. Everything else is stored or discarded.
  • Phase 2 – Seiton (??) Straighten or Set in Order: Focuses on efficiency. When we translate this to “Straighten or Set in Order”, it sounds like more sorting or sweeping, but the intent is to arrange the tools, equipment and parts in a manner that promotes work flow. For example, tools and equipment should be kept where they will be used (i.e. straighten the flow path), and the process should be set in an order that maximizes efficiency.For every thing there should be place and every thing should be in its place.(demarcation and labeling of place)
  • Phase 3 – Seis? (??) Sweeping or Shining or Cleanliness: Systematic Cleaning or the need to keep the workplace clean as well as neat. At the end of each shift, the work area is cleaned up and everything is restored to its place. This makes it easy to know what goes where and have confidence that everything is where it should be. The key point is that maintaining cleanliness should be part of the daily work – not an occasional activity initiated when things get too messy.
  • Phase 4 – Seiketsu (??) Standardizing: Standardized work practices or operating in a consistent and standardized fashion. Everyone knows exactly what his or her responsibilities are to keep above 3S’s.
  • Phase 5 – Shitsuke (?) Sustaining the discipline: Refers to maintaining and reviewing standards. Once the previous 4S’s have been established, they become the new way to operate. Maintain the focus on this new way of operating, and do not allow a gradual decline back to the old ways of operating. However, when an issue arises such as a suggested improvement, a new way of working, a new tool or a new output requirement, then a review of the first 4S’s is appropriate.
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March 11, 2009 Posted by | feature, lean | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Free Download: OEE Calculator


Download the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) calculator by clicking here:


What is OEE?

OEE is a hierarchy of metrics which focus on how effectively a manufacturing operation is utilized. The results are stated in a generic form which allows comparison between manufacturing units in differing industries.

OEE measurement is also commonly used as a key performance indicator (KPI) in conjunction with lean manufacturing efforts to provide an indicator of success.

OEE can be best illustrated by a brief discussion of the six metrics that comprise the system. The hierarchy consists of two top-level measures and four underlying measures.

The two top-level metrics

Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and total effective equipment performance (TEEP) are two closely related measurements that report the overall utilization of facilities, time and material for manufacturing operations. These top view metrics directly indicate the gap between actual and ideal performance.

  • Overall equipment effectiveness quantifies how well a manufacturing unit performs relative to its designed capacity, during the periods when it is scheduled to run.
  • Total effective equipment performance (TEEP) measures OEE effectiveness against calendar hours, i.e.: 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

The four underlying metrics

In addition to the above measures, there are four underlying metrics that provide understanding as to why and where the OEE and TEEP performance gaps exist.

The measurements are described below:

  • Loading: The portion of the TEEP Metric that represents the percentage of total calendar time that is actually scheduled for operation.
  • Availability: The portion of the OEE Metric represents the percentage of scheduled time that the operation is available to operate. Often referred to as Uptime.
  • Performance: The portion of the OEE Metric represents the speed at which the Work Center runs as a percentage of its designed speed.
  • Quality: The portion of the OEE Metric represents the Good Units produced as a percentage of the Total Units Started. Commonly referred to as First Pass Yield.

Calculations for OEE and TEEP

What follows is a detailed presentation of each of the six OEE / TEEP Metrics and examples of how to perform calculations. The calculations are not particularly complicated, but care must be taken as to standards that are used as the basis. Additionally, these calculations are valid at the work center or part number level but become more complicated if rolling up to aggregate levels.

Overall equipment effectiveness

OEE breaks the performance of a manufacturing unit into three separate but measurable components: Availability, Performance, and Quality. Each component points to an aspect of the process that can be targeted for improvement. OEE may be applied to any individual Work Center, or rolled up to Department or Plant levels. This tool also allows for drilling down for very specific analysis, such as a particular Part Number, Shift, or any of several other parameters. It is unlikely that any manufacturing process can run at 100% OEE. Many manufacturers benchmark their industry to set a challenging target, 85% is not uncommon.

Calculation: OEE = Availability x Performance x Quality


A given Work Center experiences…

Availability of 86.7%.

The Work Center Performance is 93.0%.

Work Center Quality is 95.0%.

OEE = 86.7% Availability x 93.0% Performance x 95.0% Quality = 76.6%

Total effective equipment performance

Where OEE measures effectiveness based on scheduled hours, TEEP measures effectiveness against calendar hours, i.e.: 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

TEEP, therefore, reports the ‘bottom line’ utilization of assets.

Calculation: TEEP = Loading x OEE


A given Work Center experiences…

OEE of 76.67%

Work Center Loading is 71.4%

TEEP = 71.4% Loading x 76.7% OEE = 54.8%

Stated another way, TEEP adds a fourth metric ‘Loading’, Therefore TEEP = Loading x Availability x Performance x Quality


The Loading portion of the TEEP Metric represents the percentage of time that an operation is scheduled to operate compared to the total Calendar Time that is available. The Loading Metric is a pure measurement of Schedule Effectiveness and is designed to exclude the effects how well that operation may perform.

Calculation: Loading = Scheduled Time / Calendar Time


A given Work Center is scheduled to run 5 Days per Week, 24 Hours per Day.

For a given week, the Total Calendar Time is 7 Days at 24 Hours.

Loading = (5 days x 24 hours) / (7 days x 24 hours) = 71.4%


The Availability portion of the OEE Metric represents the percentage of scheduled time that the operation is available to operate. The Availability Metric is a pure measurement of Uptime that is designed to exclude the effects of Quality, Performance, and Scheduled Downtime Events.

Calculation: Availability = Available Time / Scheduled Time


A given Work Center is scheduled to run for an 8 hour (480 minute) shift.

The normal shift includes a scheduled 30 minute break when the Work Center is expected to be down.

The Work Center experiences 60 minutes of unscheduled downtime.

Scheduled Time = 480 min – 30 min break = 450 Min

Available Time = 450 min Scheduled – 60 min Unscheduled Downtime = 390 Min

Availability = 390 Avail Min / 450 Scheduled Min = 86.7%


The Performance portion of the OEE Metric represents the speed at which the Work Center runs as a percentage of its designed speed. The Performance Metric is a pure measurement of speed that is designed to exclude the effects of Quality and Availability.

Calculation: Performance = Actual Rate / Standard Rate


A given Work Center is scheduled to run for an 8 hour (480 minute) shift with a 30 minute scheduled break.

Available Time = 450 Min Sched – 60 Min Unsched Downtime = 390 Minutes

The Standard Rate for the part being produced is 40 Units/Hour

The Work Center produces 242 Total Units during the shift. Note: The basis is Total Units, not Good Units. The Performance metric does not penalize for Quality.

Actual Rate = 242 Units / (390 Avail min/60 min/hr) = 37.2 Units/Hour

Performance = 37.2 Units/Hour / 40 Units/Hour = 93.0%


The Quality portion of the OEE Metric represents the Good Units produced as a percentage of the Total Units Started. The Quality Metric is a pure measurement of Process Yield that is designed to exclude the effects of Availability and Performance.

Calculation: Quality = Good Units / Units Started


A given Work Center produces 230 Good Units during a shift.

242 Units were started in order to produce the 230 Good Units.

Quality = 230 Good Units / 242 Units Started = 95.0%

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March 8, 2009 Posted by | feature, images, lean | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Process Auditing Tools


When you’re out of quality, you’re out of business.

~ Unknown Author

Here’s a great process audit checklist, provided totally free of charge!


But just what are process audits?

Over to Shaun at the Capable Blog for an explanation:

Process audits versus procedural audits

This contrast is primarily one of scope rather than focus.

A procedural audit will generally be quite narrow in scope and will look in detail at the execution of a particular operation. A process audit has a broad scope and examines the broader context of the operation from inputs through to outputs and results.

A process audit generally involves drawing evidence from a broader range of sources and people and requires more forethought and planning. A well written procedure more or less tells the auditor what sort of questions should be asked during the audit step by step, however when an auditor considers a process audit, there may be no single document that leads the auditor through the process in that step-by-step way. That means the auditor must establish the methodology through effective planning.

Despite being generally a “bigger job” and more complex and time consuming, process audits generate information on the general efficiency and appropriateness of working methods. They can identify duplication, bottle-necks, delays, weaknesses in communication and confusion that procedural audits cannot pick up. A useful approach in auditing a process is to adopt the “grave to cradle” approach. That means to start the audit by looking at the results, then to use the findings from that stage to focus the audit trails for other parts of the process, tracking back to process inputs.

The diagram on the next page shows a typical “turtle diagram” approach to process auditing. Taking a central theme for the audit (in this case management responsibility &objective setting) the diagram offers a template to help the auditor explore generic themes associated with process control

This approach can be adopted for any process, as there will always be generic themes of objectives, measures, equipment, training, responsibilities, communications, methods and so on.

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March 2, 2009 Posted by | feature | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Process Capability Calculator


Knowing if a process will consistently meet specification is critical, here’s a tool that will help.

You have to manage a system. The system doesn’t manage itself.
W. Edwards Deming

A process is a unique combination of tools, materials, methods, and people engaged in producing a measurable output; for example a manufacturing line for machine parts. All processes have inherent statistical variability which can be evaluated by statistical methods

The Process Capability is a measurable property of a process to the specification, expressed as a process capability index (e.g., Cpk or Cpm) or as a process performance index (e.g., Ppk or Ppm). The output of this measurement is usually illustrated by a histogram and calculations that predict how many parts will be produced out of specification.

Process capability is also defined as the capability of a process to meet its purpose as managed by an organization’s management and process definition structures ISO 15504.

Two parts of process capability are:

1) Measure the variability of a process, and

2) Compare that variability with a proposed specification or product tolerance.

You can use Minitab to complete process capability studies. For example, Keith Bower has produced some excellent overviews here and here. You can also check out his video below.

If you don’t have access to Minitab, then download my free Excel based calculator by clicking the download link below:


You may also want to download a brief overview of process capability by clicking on the download link below:


Read more here:

4-B Process Capability

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February 24, 2009 Posted by | feature, Six Sigma, software | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can Lean and ISO 9001 be integrated?

Valentine Venn Diagram
photo credit: ClockworkGrue

In a word: yes. However, you must take care; from Wikipedia:

  • “ISO 9000 guidelines provide a comprehensive model for quality management systems that can make any company competitive.”
  • “A survey by Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance indicated ISO 9000 increased net profit… Another Deloitte-Touche survey reported that the costs of registration were recovered in three years.”
  • “Good business judgment is needed to determine its proper role for a company.”
  • “The ISO registration process has become a mountain of paperwork. Opponents claim that it is only for documentation. Proponents believe that if a company has documented its quality systems, then most of the paperwork has already been completed.”
  • “Registration… unfortunately has become a vehicle to increase consulting services… Studies show that the majority of certifications derive from customer demands, such as a vendor qualification checklist, instead of internal needs to improve quality.”
  • “Is certification itself important to the marketing plans of the company? If not, do not rush to certification.”
  • “Even without certification, companies should utilize the ISO 9000 model as a benchmark to assess the adequacy of its quality programs.”

Properly implemented ISO9001 provides for the success of Lean programs with provisions for:

  • Management vision, direction, authorization and involvement
  • Resource evaluation and application, inclusive of personnel qualification and training, processes, etc.
  • Planning functions
  • Qualification and control of designs, technologies, processes, materials, products and services
  • Review and analysis of results, application of decision-making processes and initiation of needed changes.

The intent of ISO 9001 is to improve business processes. Lean tools are process-focused and provide the means to remove non-value activities from both the manufacturing and transactional processes. It helps improve the efficiency of the organization, its operations and its economic performance as well as the quality of its products and services. ISO 9001:2000 item 8.5.1, continual improvement, states that; “organizations shall continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system.” A key requirement to comply with this clause, the organization must develop a process to measure, monitor and continually reduce process and product variation (evaluated by process sigma levels). Kaizen” translates into “Continual Improvement” and by reduces waste and non-value added activities. Infact, Pheng argues that the integration of ISO 9001:2000 requirements with 5-S would lead towards TQM (PHENG, L.S. (2001) Towards TQM: integrating Japanese 5-S principles with ISO 9001:2000 requirements. TQM Magazine. Vol 13, No 5. pp.334-340.).

Has your implementation of ISO9001 helped your Lean efforts?

February 22, 2009 Posted by | feature, quality | , , , | Leave a comment

Free Six Sigma Program Management Spreadsheet

six sigma software

Here’s a fantastic free six sigma program management template.

There are generally two classes of software used to support Six Sigma:

  • Analysis tools, which are used to perform statistical or process analysis
  • Program management tools, used to manage and track a corporation’s entire Six Sigma program

A Good Week

Analysis tools

Whilst these tools are great for isolated data analysis, I believe six-sigma software really comes into its own when you’re using it to manage an entire program:

The Six Sigma methodology relies on projects, programs, resources, processes and project management to drive continuous improvement. It quantifies all feedback and allows organizations to focus on activities that must change in order to achieve desired results. With the proper IT infrastructure and flexible Six Sigma program management software, accuracy and control can be achieved, enabling your company to execute the program smoothly. Data sources will be reliable, results can be monitored and validated in real time and success shared throughout the organization.

So with this in mind, you can click on the link below to download a fantastic free six sigma program management template. The template itself runs through an entire DMAIC project and suggests a number of tools and techniques which you can use at various stages. I found it to be of enormous benefit, providing a structure to my improvement activities.


Click to download the free six sigma program management template

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February 20, 2009 Posted by | feature, software | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

3 simple and easy steps to kaizen success

How does a company create the vision for a Kaizen culture and ensure long-term cohesiveness?



Kaizen is the name given by the Japanese to continuous improvement. Continuous improvement really means “continuous incremental improvement.”

  • Kai – change
  • Zen – good

Kaizen means making changes for the better on a continual, never-ending basis. Companies must incorporate three fundamental practices to begin the process of creating a Kaizen culture:


  • Download a kaizen event checklist here
  • Download more fatastic templates here

1. Ensure management and shop-floor synergy

The initiative must emanate from the CEO, who demonstrates the passion, willingness and stomach to make a cultural shift through his or her commitment to invest in people and processes. All employees need to embrace the vision and be dedicated to making continuous, incremental improvements.

2. Focus on process and results

By creating a holistic process to a problem, employees are able to visually identify, analyze and assess whether a Kaizen event provided a better solution. If the intended objective was not met, employees must return to the original process, revisit opportunities and provide alternative solutions.

3. Initiate trystorming

Marry brainstorming with action to see if an idea would work. It gives everyone an opportunity to visually see the problem and try solutions. This approach provides many benefits, not the leastof which is greater flexibility to quickly configure lines based on production demand. Also, less floor space is needed to produce the same number of units.

Going forward

1. Review and monitor constantly

Leadership should create a consistent approach to track and monitor Lean adoption, ensuring proper review of the initiatives at site, regional and global levels.

2. Consider workshops

These events normally begin about five to six weeks before any Kaizen event begins, which requires the project scope be outlined thoroughly and a cross-functional team formed to match project requirements. Next, the team creates a value stream map, which looks at the entire manufacturing line and tags each process within the line with either a green (value-add process), red (non value-add) or yellow (value-enabler, such as a regulatory requirement) dot. The red dots are seen as opportunities for improvement in a Kaizen event.

3. Implement 3G

Evaluate the situation based on facts. This is the 3G (Genba, Genbutsu, Genjitsu) approach, which guides decision-making by always looking at the:

  • Genba (place or workspace)
  • Genbutsu (real thing or actual product)
  • Genjitsu (real data, specific problem)

The team uses a methodology to generate as many possibilities for addressing the improvement opportunity. Each idea is assessed based on the agreed criteria. The idea that has the highest score is then put into action through trystorming. By putting the problem on the table in the exact spot where it is occurring (3G), everyone sees the situation firsthand. We find employees are then more apt to rally around the Kaizen event, better grasp the improvement opportunity and commit to fixing it to mutual satisfaction. This process becomes so systematic that improvements are made much more efficiently.


New Radiation Warning Signs

Not a day should go without some kind of improvement being made somewhere in the company. When KAIZEN is adapted in organizations and management perspectives, however, it is easier to talk about it than to implement it. It is very natural that people will propose some kind of change in their own work place, when they become unsatisfied with their present conditions. Some of the improvements could be carried outright away. Perhaps, the boss won’t even notice them. However, when approval is required, several kinds of responses from the boss could have taken place. The ideal situation is that the boss encourages their subordinates to carry out their ideas. The boss then appreciates the efforts or gives recognition. That’s what people expect when they propose something. The positive response given by the boss will then develop trust with the subordinates and stimulate other improvements. Cumulatively, this will create momentum for continuing improvement.

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January 26, 2009 Posted by | feature, lean | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Making Sense of Lean Six Sigma via Twitter

Can you learn about lean six sigma via Twitter? Yes, but it’s not easy without the right tool.

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.

Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends (delivery to everyone being the default). Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, SMS, RSS, or email, or through an application such as Tweetie, Twinkle, TwitterFox, Twitterrific, Feedalizr, and Facebook. Four gateway numbers are currently available for SMS: short codes for the United States, Canada, and India, and a United Kingdom-based number for international use. Several third parties offer posting and receiving updates via email. Twitter had by one measure over 3 million accounts and, by another, well over 5 million visitors in September 2008, a fivefold increase in a month.

There seems to be trend for Lean Six Sigma bloggers to join Twitter:

Of course you can also follow me on Twitter – click on the link below:

Follow me on Twitter!


I use TwitterBar to post to Twitter from Firefox’s address bar. A small unobtrusive grey icon sits to the right of your address bar; clicking on it will post your tweet, and you can hover your mouse over it to see how many characters you have left.

You can also post by typing “–post” at the end of your tweet. Clicking the grey icon when visiting a webpage will send a tweet with the URL of the webpage you are currently viewing.


The only way I can make sense of the flood of information on Twitter is by using TweetDeck.

Image representing TweetDeck as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

TweetDeck is an Adobe Air desktop application that is currently in public beta. It aims to evolve the existing functionality of Twitter by taking an abundance of information i.e twitter feeds, and breaking it down into more manageable bite sized pieces.

image image image

How does it do that?

TweetDeck enables users to split their main feed (All Tweets) into topic or group specific columns allowing a broader overview of tweets. The default columns can contain All Tweets from your timeline, @replies directed to you and direct messages. The GROUP, SEARCH and REPLIES buttons then allow the user to make up additional columns populated from the live tweet information. Once created these additional columns will automatically update allowing the user to keep track of a twitter threads far easier.

image image image

Additional Features

  • – Catch up with overnight global twitterings as TweetDeck stores all updates whilst running
  • – Continual status updates of TweetDeck and Twitter
  • – Resize TweetDeck as either an unobtrusive column, full screen or anything in between
  • – Especially useful running full screen on a separate monitor
  • – Filter tweets using the tweet text, username, source or timeframe
  • – Auto updates from the Twitter API

What do you think? Please leave your comments below:

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January 6, 2009 Posted by | feature, lean, Six Sigma | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Japanese Words

There’s a lot of Japanese terms used in Lean … why?

Typically, these terms are used (and misused) in order to convey broad concepts with iconic (representative) terminology. Once properly explained, the term KANBAN can be more descriptive than THOSE LITTLE CARDS WHICH HELP US CONTROL PRODUCT MOVES. However, use of these terms can have a negative effect, especially if the culture of a particular organization is predisposed against all things non-American. Choose carefully the training methods (and terms) you use when conveying lean tools and methods, and you will have a much easier time during your lean implementation.

Well now you can add some more!


I like:

  • kuki ga yomenai: can’t read between the lines or can’t sense the atmosphere
  • shouganai: it couldn’t be helped
  • kyousei: symbiosis
  • do gen ka sen to ikan: something needs to be done
  • kawaigari: to cherish or take under one’s wing
  • kokumin o kitai ni kotaeraremashita: I lived up to the people’s expectations
  • sonna no kankei nee: It doesn’t matter!

December 25, 2008 Posted by | feature, links | , , | Leave a comment

Avoid the curse of the active banana!


I’ve often said before that its important to buy into the philosophy behind six-sigma, TQM, Lean, etc and not just focus on the tools. This focuses the organisation on only one level of the four suggested in The Toyota Way (see the image below). By doing this you’ll avoid the, “curse of the active banana“!!

toyota way

Details on the “active banana” were reported by The Guardian via the Newcastle Journal:

£7 million were paid to consultants in a “Lean” initiative. Part of this process involved using black tape to let workers know where to place their keyboard and stapler. Workers complained that not only is it an enormous waste of money but incredibly demeaning. A union worker said in certain consulting session in Scotland employees were asked if the banana on their desk was active or inactive – and if it was inactive it had to be removed!

tape desk

These guys should have read: How To Prevent Lean Implementation Failures

Reason #1: Lack of Top Down Management Support
Reason #2: Lack of Communication
Reason #3: Lack of Middle Management/Supervisor Buy-In
Reason #4: Not Understanding That This Is About Your People
Reason #5: Lack of Customer Focus
Reason #6: Lack of Improvement Measures
Reason #7: Lack of Lean Leadership
Reason #8: People Measures Not Aligned With Lean Goals
Reason #9: Using Kaizen Events As The Sole Improvement Measurement
Reason #10: Bonus Pay Systems Where The Only Measure Is Company Profitability

More here and here.

December 21, 2008 Posted by | feature, quality | , , | 10 Comments