Standardized Work & Production Scheduling:
How they Overlap & Differentiate
Long considered a way to greatly improve manufacturing efficiency, Lean can be applied to any business or production process, in any industry. For example, Lean is now being used extensively in the healthcare industry to improve efficiency and reduce costs. The principles can even be used, on a smaller scale, to organize your office, workspace, or laboratory. The goal of Lean is to eliminate waste. One of the most powerful Lean tools is Standardized Work.
When you think about a problem that occurs in a process or service, the root cause is often one of three conditions:
- A lack of a standard
- The standard was not followed
- The standard needs improvement
The first step to creating good standard work is documenting the best-known process. Then we audit the standard to confirm it is being followed and is still the current best practice. As the standard is improved, the new standard becomes the starting point for further improvements, and so on. Improving Standardized Work is a never-ending process.
Implementing Standardized Work may not be easy. The time needed to collect the detailed steps and information to be uncovered, may reveal questions and concerns. It can be difficult to start when work demands are high and resources are tight. Performing baseline observations may be time-consuming. However, the hard work and the constant effort to improve are worthwhile, as skills develop and the speed of creating Standardized Work increases, which results in improved quality, productivity, safety, skills training and customer satisfaction across the organization.
Standardized Work is the key to effective Operations Management. At a high level, Operations Management is the science of optimizing the processes needed to support and execute standard work. Operations Management is comprised of:
- Operations Planning: the planning of production and manufacturing in a company or industry
- Work Scheduling: the process of organizing and controlling resources in a way that best supports the execution of standard work
- Operations Controlling: set of actions and decisions taken during production to regulate output and obtain reasonable assurance that the specification will be met
Work Scheduling is like a roadmap: It helps you know where you are going and how long you will be there. The goal is to simply maintain flow, covering all aspects of operations, from workforce activities to product delivery.
The benefits of Standardized Work and effective Work Scheduling include:
- Reduced labor costs by eliminating wasted time and improving process flow.
- Reduced inventory costs by decreasing the need for safety stocks and excessive work-in-process inventories.
- Optimized equipment usage and increased capacity.
- Improved on-time deliveries of products and services.