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December 23, 2010

one–way road issue – can SPC help that?

I read some latest blogs today and quite a few of them were about SPC and its examples around us.

As I was going back home, in my home city in  PL, we have got a one-way road that starts at my neighbourhood and throughout a year everyone goes as they suppose. However, today I noticed a car going upstream! After one minute, there was another one (they didn't see the signs, but that's normal, fair enough then).

Probably, all it means that there are more cars around, not from my city. This is of course because of Christmas... which is a ... special cause then! :D So if we made a SPC chart for that (and obtain proper results and data, not just my assumptions!), we could get some good results and maybe my Council could take some actions i.e. re-think positions of signs etc...

December 12, 2010

quality tools

After reading Ayham's blog (Quality initiatives) about the variety of quality tools I got a new idea from his entry.
This is true that there are heaps of quality tools and every single one is more or less profitable (but still
beneficial!). So if the company wanted to benefit from all of them - would it really be possible to keep using all
of them???? Then we would probably need a battalion of people to manage and use that (which would end up in high costs to run it).
It is logical to use as many tools as you can with the resources you have or keep using those which give you
good results, however I'm just wondering if it is possible and reasonable to use most (over a hundred) of the tools.
Maybe if one would be able to use them all, the company would achieve excellence? (assuming excellence is the best
level in the world).

November 23, 2010

Cp will tell you the truth

After our airplane exercise it turned out that both our groups had the same 6 sigma factors butt our performances, savings and approaches were totally different! This meant that 6S factor is very vauge and can be misleading.

It's much better to have a look at Cp and Cpk. What's more we had an interesting situation that our process from Monday (which was totally underperforming) had a better Cp than improved process (which saved around 40k!).
Greame suggested that it might be because on Monday we had simpler tasks and had less time for i.e. mistakes, losing screws and the variation was smaller. And today we had lots of tasks and at least once sth went wrong shifting up the variation.
What I suggested as well is that on Monday the variation was smaller becasue we were operating all the time pretty much similarily - unfortunately way above the limit!! So despite learing the tasks we were hitting say ~4 minutes all the time, regardless our actions = variation showed it's consistent action. However, today we were rushing to meet the goal (which was not wrong at all, we weren't complaining about it and forced to do that maybe because we believed it's achievable) and we were better and better (on target to be honest) but it didn't work this way all the time - so I guess variation showed that to a greater extent... I can't prove it but that's my sense of this case and at least hope you can understand my way of thinking.

'thinking does not hurt'

To make it clear, the title of this entry is a rough translation of a Polish proverb. It came to my mind today after classes.
I was an operator like yesterday and I had 5 operations (10 tasks) today and struggled with 6 of them very much!! I'm pretty stubborn (what equals stupidity, as it'll turn out soon) and only that made me go down from ~320 sec to 200 sec - our target for each operator.
After a while we had some time for improvements. I had no ideas for my tasks until I turned around a bolt and the nut was on the other side of the wings. Now its effect turned out to be almost a miracle for me! Instead of holding 3 nuts inside one bracket, I had them more outwards and it saved me some time (though I still had to learn and it was not perfect all the time). Much of the waiting was still because of me but it could've been worse... :P

So in the end I was amazed that I could change the process so much, but on the other hand I was frustrated that it took me so much time to realize that.... All because I was too stubborn (oh this bloody Polish mentality heh) and 'comfortable' with the process but it was the CHANGE that happened to be a salvation for me today and I'm glad I went for it.
To conclude with, thinking did not hurt me but it needs time to develop an idea (which I wish was much faster :P).

November 22, 2010

2nd module – start

Today we started PIUSS module and we started a case study about running a production line of airplanes.
We cevered roughly D and M stage from DMAIC cycle and that did not seem very difficult - the question is: Is it going to be the same at our work? As far as I get it we did not prepare many documentation of our actions which in the real life is a must. But apart from that we had a line production example and we defined our goals and created teams (although they are too big, we will have both operators, inspectors - so we'll have a good amount of experience).
What we didn't have was a flow chart of the process but this still may be viewed as a part of documentation (though quite important to understand the process!). Actually, I will suggest that tomorrow when we are going to study cause and effects of the process - or we may just go through the assembly together so that everyone understands it.

So our actions seem to be linked and good enough to deliver good performance, but it's still suspiciously easy for me... Anyway, I'm looking forward to tomorrow - especially to design improvement of the plane, I have qiute a few ideas ;]

November 17, 2010

6S – getting it right (with a hint of PMI)

Six Sigma is a long journey with many steps and milestones thought on the way. In order to get it right, some authors of journal papers identified a few key issues called ‘critical success factors’ which have to be identified and managed in order to perform a successful implementation.

One of the initial CSF that needs to be looked at is management involvement and commitment. Like in every project there is a need for leadership and Six Sigma is not an exception. Involvement is showed by continuous support and belief in the project. Basically this means that managers have to monitor progress by participating in both reviews of on-going projects but have to take part in the team activities (however, mainly as witnesses). This results in better cognition of the improvement, better appreciation for efforts and results.
Secondly, without managerial approval no project can be started as there will be no resources for that. This in turn shows us the importance of Project Sponsors as we were able to see during the PMI e-learning course. Their role is to come to an agreement with the project team and support them by providing with resources and holding regular meetings.

Six Sigma project is obviously a huge step for the company and as everything that is ‘new’ and breakthrough it is scary and unknown at the same time. This issue is highly linked with the cognition of change. The change needs to be efficiently communicated within the company so that everyone is familiar with it. There is a high demand for appropriate change management in order to introduce it as an opportunity to improve and excel, not as a way of making lives harder.
There are many way to deal with the resistance to change but as we could see in the PMI a good starting point is to explain the reasons for change and expected benefits. In the Presto pizza example it was oversimplified as everyone from the project team accepted the change with no hesitation, but again it has to be stressed that everything depends on the company’s current working environment and people are the main subject while considering the change.

There are some more critical factors but those are the most interesting to me. It's good to see that we had some evidence of that during PMI course and now althought we might not be fully aware of that, we can benefit from that and build based on that learning during the class.
Such introduction courses seem to be efficient since as we are expected to study at home most of the time anyway, now we're going through the same research (I'm talking about the content, because I bet we'll get 30 different opinions in class next week :P) so our in-class studying will be efficient.

November 12, 2010

PMI e–learning – summary

Today I finished the PMI e-learning course. To be honest I was familiar with all of the tools they introduced but what I liked in there was that they showed how their cycle can be used for an improvement. The example was of course very simple and not very extended, however it delivered the message. Long story short - there were some interesting bits (connected mainly with leadership and proper process approach) which were beneficial.

However, this is not the case of the entry. What I wanted to share with you is how I understood 'process capability' index more thanks to PMI. The story is:

While going throught Lesson 14 about Cp. There was a formula for that and although it's just one line I was shocked when their Cp turned out to be 0,33! In my mind I started wangling with data to get a better Cp ofc! Calculations in the denominator were 42 - 10 (min) so I thought it Cp would be better if we had sth like 40 - 28 (min). I realise that those values are from control limits from a chart so we cannot just assume them, however if we happened to have CL between 28 and 40 min instead of 42 and 10 then our Cp would be better. OK one will say it's logical since the limits are closer so there is less variation (or spread?) so Cp is higher in the first case. BUT now this means that if we deliver pizza in less than 28 min (i.e we had a case of 10 min delivery) if we looked at Cp it shows our performance is very very poor!!! So it seems like the later we deliver (to a certain extent) we will get better Cp!!! Now that's not what we want - is it?? We are fighting with late deliveries issue and the better we are the worse Cp is????? Now that was a nice question and I wrote it down to discuss it in the class.

But then moving on in Lesson 21 they came back to Cp case and they seem to provided an answer to my question. This is what I figured out:

They improved their delivery to 20 min time (on average) so Cp improved as well (like I had assumed). But then the answer came with the strike: Cp was better (but still less than 1!) because the process's average was shifted (from  Specification limits) so it was still underperforming. So now their delivery time is better but I understand why it's still not good (though at first most of us would say that reducing delivery time (as much as possible) would help with the 'late delivery issue'. Well not really it turns out! Now that's a lesson!!! On the other hand, this showed that I forgot about CUSTOMER REQUIREMENTS....).

Now this seems to be a broader subject and I hope I'll come across more such cases and issues so that I'll be able to analyse it and learn. Hopefully during this module I'll get that!!! Can't wait.

November 11, 2010

6S to improve

Preparing for the presentations I found some 'areas for improvement' in 6S methodology:

Although 6S highlights the need of training for staff, it is very strict and schematic. However effective the training can be its main drawback could be lack of learning opportunities for employees. They are taught tools and techniques which are expected to use but there it is assumed that no feedback from them is necessary.

Secondly because of the concept of green and black belts the organization becomes structured and strong hierarchy is created. This in turn limits people to act as all actions have to be approved by their supervisors and managers.

Although the companies which implemented 6S had had outstanding results of performance with savings of millions of dollars/ pounds whatever the methodology seems to be very complex and one cannot take it for granted the success (while costs of trainings are significant).

If you found some more, please write them and we'll collect them :)

November 10, 2010

Lean Six Sigma – unique or not?

During my research I obviously came across Lean Six Sigma. What they wrote was that L6S uses TPS (Toyota Production System) and its techniques (TPM, JIT, SMED) to ensure smooth process flow.

What came to my mind was that Graeme told that Six Sigma is not a new concept but just a compilation of commonly known and used tools, techniques etc. So how does his statement relates to Lean 6S then? It's the same situation! L6S uses TPS which had been known way before 6S (and L6S as well). So this time again, L6S lacks originality :P
It's a combination of American 6S (who collected all tools together) with Japanese culture (JIT,SMED,TPM). Who's next?

November 08, 2010

on your marks, get set, PIUSS

During Jan's presentation he underlined that 6s is not a new concept since it consists of tools which have been known for 'ages'. I agree with that but he kept saying that managers who start using that think they are innovative when they are not. In my opinion instead of telling them the truth and bringing them down we should support that and be happy that someone is willing to improve performance and quality.
On the other hand, we have to be clear that this is not anything new - otherwise some will develop false convicions.

Maybe I understood him wrong or I'm just picky. Maybe I didn't explain my view clear enough for you guys, but we can talk about that if you want :)

Secondly, after today's classes I understood two 'small steps to a better quality' better:

- about Gemba - going and experiencing something ourselves I understood how important can it be in terms of gathering data from many sources. For example if you ask just one operator about the problem (plus see something yourself) you may still not be able to get it right. However if you ask more people than things may become more clear or less bias.

- I had learned before (when I heard about 6s for the first time) that we should not take any actions unless we had collected data to support our views and justify actions. Well it all made sense as such but today I finally used it (just in my mind at this time) in a proper situation: when you think about audits they are not performed just for the sake of seeing if something is OK or not to tick the right box. They are done to provide you with data based on which you can take actions (OK or not again - but by thinking this way for me it more powerful and reasonable, finally!)

I guess that such small steps can take me further and further and some things start to making sense so it's not just becasue I was told to think and do that this way! :)

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