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Lean practitioners must properly identify product families in order to value stream map a given family’s flow of material and information. That’s very important, but not always simple.

In order to illustrate how to identify product families and thus value streams, consider the following example. Three different patient groups go to a hospital. The treatment for patient groups 1 and 2 consists of three steps A, B, and C. However, the treatment for patient group 3 consists of only step D.

Work Content

Work content (Wc) represents total operator cycle time or, if multiple operators, the sum of operator cycle times to perform a specific process(es) or sub-process(es). The scope of human work, including both value-added and non value–added activities, may encompass a complete value stream or only a portion of it. For example, the lean practitioner may speak of the work content to check-in and room a patient, assemble a sensor module or process a claim.

Henry Ford

Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947)A complex man, born July 30, 1863, Henry Ford developed the automotive mass production assembly line.  His relentless and systematic focus on efficiency and costs reduction resulted in many technical and business innovations.

When evaluating countermeasures, it is common to determine which countermeasure has the best average result. A lazy analyst may then conclude that the countermeasure with the overall best average is the preferred solution. On many occasions this intellectual sloth may result in the best choice, but there are some occasions where this type of thinking could result in disaster.

The wrongheaded thinking arises from not realizing that just because the average result is better; it doesn’t mean that the overall results are better.

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