What Is Standard Work?

Although lean managers and manufacturers have been using standard work for years, yet many companies do not realize what this lean methodology entails.
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Published on:
06 January 2020
Updated on:
22 February 2024

Standard work consists of a combination of processes, procedures, and visual work instructions for the optimal execution of a task or process. Standardization often leads to standards and certifications. For example, think of ISO standards or certificates.

In this blog post, we’ll explain the basics of Standard Work to you.

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Toyota Standardized Work

Standard work is one of the fundamental disciplines of the Toyota Production System (TPS) and lean manufacturing. Standard work, also known as standardized work, is essential to maintain stability, solve problems effectively and scientifically, and implement kaizen (continuous improvement).

A detailed specification of current best practices for performing an activity or procedure is called standard work (or standardization). Instructions, relevant illustrations, and anything else necessary to ensure that the work is performed consistently no matter who performs it are included in standard work documentation.

Standard work is one of the fundamental disciplines of the Toyota Production System.

Lean Standard Work

In lean manufacturing, standardized work is a method of establishing careful procedures to produce products in a safe and effective manner using the latest technologies.

Standardized work falls under the principles of lean manufacturing. It is based on three elements:

#1 Takt time: the time required to produce parts or products that meet consumer demand.

#2 Sequence of work: The actions that operators must perform in the order in which they must be performed within the takt time.

#3 Standard (or in-process) inventory: The minimum quantity of parts and raw materials required to perform operations.

When we think of standardized lean work, we often think of boring, monotonous work that we can do without thinking. In fact, we have been standardizing in all sorts of areas for ages.

For example, think of ISO standards, certifications, diplomas, emissions standards, etc. All of these examples have to do with a standard. A standard can be traced back to standardization. We will show you later in this blog how important standard work, lean and standardization are in business.

Continuous Improvement on the Shop Floor

Did you know Kaizen is a Japanese term meaning “change for the better” or “continuous improvement“? Kaizen is a Japanese business philosophy that refers to processes that continuously improve operations and involve all employees.

Standardize can also be translated as “a consistent approach.” If there is no consistency, how can we improve? In the context of lean, we translate kaizen as “continuous improvement.” Taiichi Ohno can be considered the father of the Toyota Production System. On the subject of standardization, Taiichi Ohno said the following, “Kaizen cannot exist without standardization.” By this he meant that without standardization there is no basis on which to improve.

Standardization does not have to be boring and monotonous. On the contrary, it provides us with a starting point for optimization, and then we can move on to a new and improved standard.

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Standard Work Method in Every Industry

Every business is unique. Even though every business is considered unique to some degree, most businesses have the same core processes. Think of processes like administration, purchasing, sales, and logistics. But unique processes in manufacturing environments can also benefit from standardization. Just think of recurring tasks like safety procedures, installation processes, lockout/tagout procedures – they can all use the standard work method.

The Benefits of Standard Work

Standardization makes improvement possible. Without standardization, we would have no starting point from which to begin with optimization. In addition, standardization has many other tangible benefits. It is a prerequisite for taking on the next challenge in the continuous improvement process of your production floor. Some advantages at a glance:

Clear and Predictable

Standard work gives you much more control over your activities. Production processes become predictable and plannable. You know what they look like, what steps and process components they consist of, and how much time they take. This is convenient for both managers and employees on the job. In this way, managers can better control the processes, while employees know what to expect from the work to be performed.

Offer your Employees Efficient Training

With standardization, you give new employees the opportunity to quickly understand processes and they are less dependent on already experienced employees or personal training.

Capture Tribal Knowledge

Employees retiring or staff changes are no longer a problem. All knowledge is stored in a standardized way and processes are communicated effectively.

Reduce Errors

Gain insight into errors and give your employees a clear picture of where their actions deviate from the established process.

A Flexible Shop Floor

With documented standards, you can quickly adapt everyday procedures and quickly train new employees. Standardized work also makes it easier to transfer workers. Also, standardizing products and tools means you have all the information together.

Uniform Quality

When you work with standards, everyone performs the steps in the same way. The end product will always be of high quality. You integrate a quality standard that allows you to stand out from the competition.

Meet International Standards

Manufacturing companies must comply with industry-specific standards and norms. For example, consider ISO 9001. Standard work provides the control mechanisms and tools to comply with all required standards and certifications.

Reduce Waste

When people in an organization do their jobs in the same way, it is easier to identify the sources of waste.

Simple Integration

Finally, there are numerous integration options for standardized systems. With Azumuta, you can easily link your processes to external applications and systems.

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