Friday General Session Offers Interesting Twist on Lean Processing
Friday, Nov. 2, 2007
By Leona Dalavai Scott, Editor-in-Chief
The discussion of lean processing took on a creative twist during Friday morning’s general session at the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE). The session, which was sponsored by Akzo Nobel, featured a skit titled “Ray’s Bar,” reminiscent of the old “Cheers” show.
|A new approach to teaching Lean Practices, Friday’s panel discussion was set up in a bar scene and a running a successful collision repair shop was compared to running a bar.
The stage featured a modern bar scene with silver tables and barstools. The story centered around three collision center managers/owners who are attending NACE. The owners are having a discussion about the industry and relating stories of the lean journey that their businesses have been on over the last two years. The bar owner, Ray – “played” by Doug Kirk, a seasoned veteran of the collision repair industry – used to own a body shop and is skeptical as he eavesdrops on the conversation between the three owners.
Ray believes progressive ideas like lean processing cannot be implemented. As the story unfolds, he struggles to understand lean principles and how they can be applied to his bar. By the end of the story, he has applied some of the principles, which have resulted into his bar being cleaner, more customer focused, better organized and has a smoother work flow – all key concepts to lean processing.
|Business process improvement expert, Gary Steele, who has been practicing, consulting and implementing "Lean Thinking" for 15 years, narrated Friday’s General Session panel entitled, “De-Mystifying ‘Lean’ – Creating Process Centered Environments.”
Gary Steele, a business process improvement expert, narrated the skit. Those “playing” the role of the three owners are Ken Friesen, owner and president of Concours Collision Centers; Michael Giarizzo, president and CEO of DCR Systems Accident Repair Centers; and John Beckworth, Mile One Collision Works Inc.
Steele kicked off the discussion with a definition of “lean” and why it needs to be demystified.
“Well, in a nutshell, lean is a fundamentally better way of doing business,” said Steele. “It requires demystification because, for many, it has been reduced to a series of buzz words, phrases and so-called tools.
“Lean may be better defined as what it is not. Lean is not something that can be done. It is something that you do.”
He said that for collision repair shops, the power of lean comes from translating the theoretical concepts of lean into implementation.
To demonstrate the importance of customer focus, the skit showed the three owners wanting to order drinks, but Ray was too busy reading the newspaper and talking on the phone to take their drink orders.
That example was a perfect opportunity for the shop owners to delve into a discussion on the first element to lean processing – the 5s: sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain. By implementing these elements, the customer becomes the focus.
Ways that shops can implement the 5s include tool and parts organization, labeling, paper file organization, clearing clutter and creating a clean environment.
Next, Steele guided the audience through the importance of the second principle to lean – continuous flow. He defined continuous flow as the manufacturing process in which a product flows without waiting through various operations in design, order taking and production with back flows, scrap or the need for excess inventory.
Implemented during the skit, Ray sees continuous flow as bringing his customers refills of their drinks so when they finish one drink, they have another available. As one of the shop owners said, continuous flow is all about “keeping it moving.”
The next concept in lean processing is in-process quality. It is defined as striving to do everything on time, effectively and accurately. The process includes numerous “check points” where the work is assessed against predetermined standards prior to advancing to the next step of the process rather than waiting until the end of the process. For example, if a particular piece of work fails a quality inspection at any point in the process, it cannot move forward in the process until it has been corrected.
Some of the great benefits to in-process quality include decreases in come-backs and cycle time and increases in overall quantity, accountability and customer satisfaction.
In the shop owner discussion of in-process quality, the owners agreed the importance of establishing clear check points at each stage of the repair process that technicians are responsible for before handing the job off to the next technician involved in the repair process.
The final element to lean processing is real-time administration. It can be described as the administrative process in which files are kept up-to-date all of the time. All actions are recorded as they happen and the process does not move forward until all actions are recorded. In real-time administration, the “paper work” travels with the “job.”
The skit ended with Ray realizing that lean processing isn’t just some irrelevant theory. It’s a real process of implementing a more efficient and workable business.
“This is really the body shop of today,” said Steele.