Service Industry Lean Manufacturing

Non-manufacturing industries have not followed lean manufacturing to the same extent as those that manufacture a product. Several service industries have found the same principles applicable, although the use of lean manufacturing tools is different.
For example, a value added analysis is just as easily conducted with a worker talking on the telephone as someone using one.

The 5S tool can be used to organize the surroundings in the telemarketing office. All materials the telemarketer uses should be organized and within reach without having leave the area. This 5S organization enables the telemarketer to continuously utilize any material in front of them as well as keep an eye on a computer.

The same SMED tools can be used with a administrative assistant as a machine operator. The process map and movement will show the waste in each. The assistant’s travel shows the motion waste. The waiting waste is often huge in any white collar or service job. For example, the waste from waiting on a colleague, manager, supplier, or anyone else can be eliminated. There are ways to minimize it by removing the root cause as well as finding activities to fill the time. These activities should be of short duration, such as data entry, filing, or printing.

Line balancing is easy in a service environment. The key is flexibility. For example, two tellers at a bank may be required 6 out of 8 hours per day, but the trained lean expert or industrial engineer is required to notice it. The additional two hours of waste comes in buckets of 1-2 minutes throughout the day. Again, this time must be filled with value added activities in a standard work format. If the job isn’t standardized, the two individuals may absorb the time and appear 100% busy. There are many other instances where job combinations are obvious.

The value stream map is an excellent tool for service industries. Rather than the traditional macro level view of the system, the value stream map can be used in a department or area of the business. An example would be the service desk at a department store. Begin with the information flow and trigger for activity, which might be a customer. Break the map into various segments showing the few activities that comprise 90% of the work, such as returned goods, request for information, or complaints. Standardized Operations should be utilized for returned goods to minimize motion and waiting, such as a decision flow diagram. If the manager is called a large percentage of the time, the decision flow diagram needs improved. Obviously the 5S and SMED tools are also relevant, as well as root cause problem solving to eliminate the complaints.

Service industries often use kanbans without knowing it, such as ordering supplies. The same pull systems can be used in service industries as the manufacturing sector. The supply distribution center is one obvious example. Inventory waste can be eliminated using pull systems beginning with the end downstream customer.
When implementing lean manufacturing in a service industry, it is important to tailor the training to the business. Most SMED (single minute exchange of die) training is developed using examples of setup activities for equipment. It is easier for people to understand and see the waste in their processes when the training has obvious applicability.

One of the best long term lean manufacturing tools to apply in a service industry is the kaizen event. Kaizen means “incremental improvement” in Japanese. The kaizen team is comprised of a cross functional team developed to quickly and substantially improve a business issue. For example, a kaizen might be developed to reduce hospital check in time for testing. The team might include the individuals conducting the check-in, a nurse, manager, an IT representative, and a couple customers. If the average check in time is 35 minutes (the elapsed time from walking into the building until seated in a private room), the kaizen objective might be to reduce the check in time to 20 minutes within 5 days.

Cellular manufacturing can be used in many service businesses. Rather than placing individual pieces of equipment such as the postage meter, copier, fax, and file drawer throughout the area for everyone to use (and wait on), consider placing these items together in a U shaped cell to minimize movement.

The “One Piece Flow” concept is a great tool for processing items such as quotes, bills, or mail pieces. For example, if four people must review a quote, and the first person processes 500 prior to moving to the second individual, and so on, the cycle time is going to be very long. Also, if the fourth person notices a mistake the other three missed, all 500 are bad and much labor was spent unnecessarily. Moving the piece in a flow of “one” or in small batches minimizes the error cost and reduces cycle time.

Carbide Cutting Tool

Carbide cutting tools are used by manufacturers to machine and shape a wide range of tools, products and prototypes from metal. Technically speaking, a cutting tool is any tool which is used to remove material from a workpiece (an unformed block of material) by means of shear deformation. In manufacturing, carbide cutting tools are a key element of the forming and machining of metal tools, fasteners and molds, as they provide the cutting edge for machining lathes and equipment. Carbide cutting tools are used to because carbide offers strength, heat and chemical resistance necessary to cut hard metal materials such as steel and iron.

Cutting Tool Uses & Applications

In order for manufacturers to mass produce consumer products, they need a variety of precisely shaped metal tools, molds, castings and fasteners. Metal molds and castings for injection or blow molded plastic products; cutting tools for machining or shaping plastic or wood; specialty metal fasteners such as screws, nuts and bolds; these manufacturing tools are typically machined from metal workpieces on lathes or CNC machines. Carbide cutting tools are used as the “blade” of these lathes and forming machines.

Inserts & Replaceable Tool Tips

Rather than forming an entire tool from carbide, which is costly and extremely brittle, manufacturers often equip their cutting machines with replaceable carbide tool tips. These tips, or inserts, can be easily replaced when they have worn down, saving manufacturers from the time and expense of removing and sharpening entire carbide tools. In many cases, carbide tool tips are “indexable”, meaning they can be rotated or flipped to provide a new, fresh cutting edge. Indexable carbide inserts allow manufacturers to get more cutting time from each insert, significantly cutting material costs.

Why Carbide?

In order for one material to cut another, the cutting tool must be harder than the material being cut. For this reason, cutting tools used to shape metal workpieces must be harder than metal and capable of withstanding the high friction and heat that results from high speed machining. Carbide tool tips are made from a compound of carbon and tungsten, also known as cemented carbide or tungsten carbide. Tungsten carbide, although fairly brittle, is harder than most metals, but its chemical properties are just as important. Carbide is considered a “stable” material; it is not chemically changed by heat, as steel is, which allows tungsten carbide inserts and tool tips to withstand high speed metal machining for long periods of time.

Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing tools are used in an organization to achieve the goals of elimination and reduction of waste in the system. Listed below are some of the important lean manufacturing tools and techniques that are effective in eliminating waste and are used by organizations globally.

Quality Function Deployment

Quality Function Deployment or QFD is an essential lean tool that is used to identify the end product that is required by the customers. These tools then track these end results to the original inputs that are then controlled by the organization. This usually includes manufacturing process characteristics and product design.

Process Failure Modes and Effects Analysis

Also known as FMEA, this tool is a defined analytical technique that lists the potential causes and sources of failure, allocates weighted point scores based on the expected frequency, chances of the failure to be detected and the degree of the consequences.

Poka Yoke

This is one of the cost effective tools. This tool makes use of simple devices in order to prevent production of defective pieces. There are generally three types available which are contact type, performance sequence type and constant number type.

Statistical Process Control

This is an extremely important and effective quality control tool in a lean manufacturing environment. This tool requires periodic measurement of the variables which is a result of the system output and lowers the administrative costs. Since it is preventative, it also reduces performance non-conformance. Statistical Control Process is a core element among the six-sigma toolkit which establishes limits of statistical variability in steady state conditions for the system output parameter.