Standardized Work

Standardized Work is a lean manufacturing principle that involves developing precise procedures for creating products in the most efficient, cheapest, safest, and easiest way while using the available technologies. Like most lean manufacturing principles, the main goal of standardizing work is to minimize waste at all stages of the manufacturing process. 

The methods developed while standardizing work are also designed to adapt to changes in the work environment and the industry as a whole. These methods must be continuously revised to suit current technologies, workspace conditions, and other changing factors. Having clear standards for all operations makes it easy for anyone in the company to distinguish between normal and abnormal. 

Standardized work elements 

Standardized work has three major elements that have to be followed when implementing it. These include; 

Takt time

This refers to the rate at which products or parts have to be produced or assembled to meet the current demand in the market. The primary variable that needs to be examined while determining takt time is the estimated demand for the product in the market. This can be determined by looking at the previous demand data and the current market conditions. 

Work sequence 

This element involves the steps workers need to follow in order to achieve the production rate required to meet the current demand. These steps can continuously be improved in order to minimize waste involved in attaining the estimated takt time.

Standard inventory 

This refers to the minimum quantity of raw materials and parts required for the company to achieve takt time. The company needs to build a mechanism that ensures reliable supply of raw materials and parts to avoid scenarios where the company’s production rate is being affected by the lack of raw materials and parts. 

How to implement the standardized work principle

There are six major steps that must be followed while standardizing work. These include; 

  • Assess the current operations: The first step should be determining the takt time for the current operations. 
  • Identify any noticeable variations: Look at the output when different methods are used to do the same task. You may also look at the variation in results when the same task is performed by different workers. 
  • Determine the most efficient way to run operations: With the above information, it would be pretty easy to identify the best methods to do certain tasks. 
  • Document everything: After determining the most efficient methods for doing a certain task, there is a need to document the procedure. This allows all operators (new and old) to use the same procedure when carrying out a certain task. 
  • Training employees: All operators and other relevant stakeholders need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to implement the above procedure. 
  • Continuous improvement of the standards: The procedures created should be frequently improved as technologies and other working conditions change. 

Benefits of standardized work

  • Minimizes time wasted on executing different tasks
  • Reduces variability even if different people do the job 
  • Reduces the effort and time required to orient new workers

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