by Colby Horton
ASA's Manager of Web Operations
Steven Feltovich, Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes Corp., shared with a full-house his advice on enhancing efficiency in the collision repair facility. Presenting his course, "Improving Workshop Efficiency," he stressed the importance of making things right on the front end rather than trying to fix things on the back end. "Lean management" was the message throughout the hour-and-a-half Congress session.
"Educators present ideas and concepts that will 'fix' only one part of the system," said Feltovich. "This program is about learning how to implement change throughout the entire system."
Quoting W. Edwards Denning, Feltovich said, "It's not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory." Feltovich explained that efficiency is simply achieving maximum productivity with little effort or expense. And the only place workshop efficiency can begin is within the minds of managers.
The initial steps to improving efficiency are to "take of the blindfolds," such as preconceived notions (assuming what you don't know), having a paradigm shift (a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions), and truly understanding your current level of knowledge.
"Set aside the baggage and let your mind wander and be creative, said Feltovich. "There's a whole world of information out there. You don't know what you don't know."
Using Toyota as a prime example of lean management, Feltovich said the universal principles of the Japanese manufacturer can be applied to any business. It's all about increasing quality, and improved quality is getting it right the first time. Quality comes from having the exact process in place to get it right the first time.
"Get the 'bad' out," he said. The goal is to provide your product or service as quickly as possible, at the highest quality, lowest cost, and be flexible. "Don't waste your energy saying 'it won't work in my shop.' "It does work - and it's here to stay."
He added, "Insurance companies will control costs. They are cost-control experts. Don't debate lean management."
Lean refers to an evolving, dynamic process of improvement, which covers the total enterprise and embraces all aspects of the business's operations. "Look at your business from afar," said Feltovich. "It touches all aspects of the business, including sales and administration, estimating, scheduling, production and customer support."
The five basic principles of lean production are teamwork, effective communication, efficient use of all resources (such as having the right people in the right place), elimination of waste and continual improvement.
"Lean organizations are improving quality and customer satisfaction, while decreasing costs and increasing work output," he said. "Increase quality and customer satisfaction; decrease cost and use less space."
Feltovich shared a list of the 10 myths of lean production - most any excuse one might typically use to exclude their business from qualifying for the lean management principles. But they're all only excuses. "It costs you more to deliver an inferior product than a high-quality product," he said.
Leam methodology initiates evaluation of the entire business operation and restructuring of the processes to reduce wasteful activities such as waiting for information, checking inventory levels, setup time, locating missing parts, repairing broken equipment, re-evaluating situations due to lack of communication and waiting for job assignments.
"Lean uncovers problems that in the past could be hidden and often overlooked by the business. These hidden problems, which are primarily 'variation,' are the main causes of inefficiency within a process. Process variation plus system variation equals inefficiency," he explained. "Inefficiency is reduced margins plus higher costs plus increased cycle time plus customer dissatisfaction."
Feltovich asked attendees to think about their own shops. Is there a standard operating procedure? Move away from everyone doing things their own way. "It's the hardest thing to change in a lean culture," he said.
Referring again to Denning's words of advice, Feltovich quoted, "Workers are responsible for only 15 percent of the problems, the system for the other 85 percent. The system is the responsibility of management."
If you apply lean management principles to your business, you will experience higher quality at lower overall costs, increased productivy, reduced cycle times, efficient use of time and resources, effective equipment use, efficient facility layout and design, lower inventory levels, greater flexibility, and enhanced employee satisfaction. "People will be knocking on the door trying to get in and organization like that," he said.
If you believe it costs too much money to try to find what went wrong, get smarter than that!" he said, "Build in quality." He explained that inspection with the aim of finding the bad ones and throwing them out is too late, ineffective, and costly. Quality comes not from inspection, but from improvement of the process."
To initiate these processes, Feltovich said to "map it out, put it on paper and look at it." Steps to take toward getting lean include examining redundancies and excess activities, overstaffing, excess capacity, excess/underutilized equipment, unnecessary expenses, waste of materials and waste of resources.
Applying lean production on the shop floor is about getting it right the first time, paying attention to the smallest details, making every move count and understanding the impact of variation.
"The driving force behind lean is a constant pursuti of perfection in every area of the business," he said. "You must have a drive to get better."
Feltovich also reminded attendees that the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. Today's world, he added, wants immediate gratification. We want the reward before the work and it doesn't work that way.