Table of Contents
The 8th Module of the Digital Model Factory roadmap consists of Gemba-Kaizen-Jidoka-Poka Yoke applications. In the establishments of Model Factories in Bursa, Kayseri, Gaziantep and Mersin, the plan was to prepare 2 modules as Gemba-Kaizen and Jidoka-Poka Yoke. Later on we decided to combine these 2 modules with the development of Digital Model Factory. The reason was that the subjects were very intertwined.
We can say that the heart of continuous improvement beats in this module. Problem solving is at the core of continuous improvement. When you begin to treat issues as problems that need improvement, you begin to unlock the potential for improvement. If yesterday’s routine becomes a concern for you today, we can say that you have reached the automatic fuel of the culture of continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is not a project that will begin and end, but unfortunately, such studies are carried out on a project basis in enterprises. We can say that one of the biggest mistakes is to make both project-based and local treatment without looking at the whole.
Continuous improvement was part of my job while working in Germany. As a matter of fact, this also gave me the opportunity to manage continuous improvement in the departments that I was responsible for and as a manager for 10 years. I can say that telling a department what to do, deciding what to do and then applying it directly within yourself are two completely different worlds. What to do in theory is even written on the Internet. The important thing is to design how it will be implemented, to determine the methods, responsibilities, organize and manage the whole process, this is the hard part. The important thing is to know what to do when the human factor is involved and when the process needs to be managed. This also requires experience. Otherwise, we see companies full of projects that fail at the first resistance and then disappear.
Continuous Improvement Culture
Establishing a culture of continuous improvement is like two bison bumping into each other, which you may have watched in documentaries. Whoever backs down loses. The leader and the team can experience this in such processes. In certain individuals, resistance can be very serious. In this case, because the team has a much greater inertia, it will be more difficult to take a step back and it will take longer. But if the leader shows endurance, stays firm in his purpose, does not give up on his goals, and if he is competent and resilient the team will definitely take a step back.
When I started at one of the workplaces where I worked, they greeted me as “Welcome to Fallujah”. It turns out that the department was for the exile where everyone was trying to escape. One of the foremen even pointed out the workers while he was in the workshop and said, “Dogan Bey, these guys eat you crunchy”. In response, I said, “Those who want to bite as much as their jaws can cut, but let them know that my teeth are very sharp too.” In 3 years, the team turned into a orderly unit, where the OEE was from 40-50% to 75-85%, the whole team looked at each other as brothers, dog eat dog was no more, and team focused on a common goal. The department that everyone was trying to escape from started to receive applications from other departments from all levels.
We discussed Gemba and Kaizen together from the very beginning, because continuous improvement, or with the latest definition of Masaaki Imai and the way I have applied it in my 25 years of business life, can only offer added value with all its potential when it is done in the actual place where the events happen. In certain situations, a highly skilled person can come up with solutions to problems from anywhere, this is possible, but this does not benefit the team. I remember early in my work life, in my 1st or 2nd year, a production manager said that when he was in his office, he never needed to go to the workshop. He described it as a success. I remember saying, how is this possible, how can a production manager be so disconnected from his workshop? If you want the team to benefit from this problem solving activity, if you want them to acquire the right work culture, you need to examine the problems on the spot, listen, understand, evaluate them together and, if possible, coach in a way that will ensure that the solution of the problem is reached with only questions. If you can’t help your ego and combine a solution, the team will expect it every time. That’s easy, that’s fast, and the team will always expect this ready-made answer from you. Even if you can’t give this quick answer one day, your ego may be hurt, the team may begin to doubt your competencies, and you may even begin to feel that you are showing weakness. This situation is similar to the rules in the animal kingdom. If you show weakness as a leader, as an alpha, you can lose your leadership. Informally the leadership can be shifted to someone else, and in this case, things will start to get very difficult for you. However, if you realize that you don’t need to know everything from the beginning, if you don’t show it as a weakness, and if you shift the expectation from you to the team, considering that the team is actually the one that should solve the problem, then team becomes competent and solve the problems.
If you see an employee doing simple tasks such as low added value handling becomes a problem for you, then you have discovered the first necessity of Jidoka. In fact, the starting point of Jidoka is Kaizen or Gemba Kaizen. Not using the potential that can be achieved is a big problem in itself, and if you can analyze the workflows correctly, standardize these works, and then prioritize the improvement potential by evaluating this standard work from a holistic perspective after doing time study, you can already make Jidoka, that is, Autonomation. You start to see it as a problem that needs to be fixed by applying Gemba Kaizen.
The purpose of solving problems is to prevent them from reappearing. For this reason, we practice problem solving with 8D in the Gemba Kaizen part. 8D is a very powerful tool for problem solving and continuous improvement. It is a tool that I first started using 24 years ago and I have experienced its effectiveness when used correctly. Of course, if you write operator inattention to the root cause of the problem, and warning operator with delaying statements such as corrective or preventive action, you will not be able to take advantage of the potential of 8D. Logically, every error potential can be detected with FMEA or another risk analysis method and can be prevented before it occurs, but if it cannot be prevented, every error has the right to occur. If the same error occurs 2 times, you probably did not implement 8D properly. 8D is an incredibly effective tool for solving problems in continuous improvement with Gemba-Kaizen. Although 8D is very effective for solving problems, the method does not always guarantee 0 errors due to its nature and this has nothing to do with the 8D technique, and this case you need a different perspective to the processes.
Poka Yoke and A3
This different perspective is Poka Yoke. That is, error prevention means building systems that, from the outset, building “fool proof” systems, which is impossible to do even if you deliberately try to make mistakes. This is usually possible by design. In other words, it refers to the designs that will make faulty assembly impossible with the simple contours you add to the product, the design of the parts. IKEA assembly is a very good example of this. Those who have done IKEA assembly before have faced this situation many times. Incorrect installation is prevented by design. While you can come to this situation as a result of FMEA, you can also come with the measures you will take after the error occurs. We also use the A3 technique to solve the problem in Poka Yoke. A3 is a simpler technique than 8D. It is easier to apply and more visual. That’s why many businesses use this technique, but I can say that the high-level problem solving technique is 8D for me.
In conclusion, in our Gemba-Kaizen-Jidoka-Poka Yoke module, we teach the fundamentals of problem solving, continuous improvement, distinguishing between human and machine, and how to create methods and flows that make 0 error possible while solving operational problems. After the training, the participant knows how to solve a problem when faced with it. Due to these trainings, we were able to turn people who had no experience with production and lean production in the model factories before, the participants can solve problems and continuously improve them, and gained competence representing a testimony of our Training Framework. Now, we have increased the effectiveness of this framework even more by transferring it to our Digital Model Factory in a Virtual Reality Environment. It is possible for everyone to gain these competencies by experiencing Gemba-Kaizen-Jidoka and Poka Yoke at an advanced level in Virtual Reality, as it is the essence of continuous improvement.