Improve Your Operations
Let us show you how

Develop the skills necessary to implement a Lean culture and create positive change within your business.

5S Visual Workplace

Clean, organized workspaces generally result in greater efficiencies whether on the factory floor or in an office environment. The 5S system of workplace organization provides a solid platform to enact Lean initiatives and process improvements.

5S helps employees understand their role in meeting workplace standards because they are clear, visible, and consistent. Benefits include:

  • Greater efficiency
  • Improved quality
  • Better safety
  • Work standardization
  • Less search time for tools & material
  • Reduce cycle time & changeovers
  • Visual workplace control
  • Improved employee morale

Visual management control involves simple, visual signals that give the operator tangible information to make the right decision in that particular production process. Visually displaying guidelines helps support a diverse workforce with easily understood directions for enhanced workplace safety.

What are the Steps of 5S?

Like many continuous improvement tools, 5S is a straightforward framework which is very powerful when implemented on the factory floor, in the office environment, or in any other workspace. It follows these five steps:

1) Sort out what’s not needed throughout your workspace, and bring in what is needed.

2) Set in Order everything you use to create and work on the product. Our 5S experts help you determine where things should be placed and stored to improve the efficiency of your current workflow. We teach your workforce to categorize their tools, and only keep on hand what they need to do the job. 

3) Shine and clean your workspace by eliminating all forms of contamination including dirt, dust, fluids and other debris. We help you define what “clean” looks like, and then ensure all tools are properly labeled, cleaned and repaired, if needed.

4) Standardize all the rules to keep everyone on the same page and implement visual controls. Our 5S experts help you define what to sort, and what the schedule should be for equipment and workspace cleaning.

5) Sustain the entire process and the gains you’ve made. This requires self-discipline, which we all know is the hardest part. Our 5S experts help you create infrastructure around auditing, communication and how continued processes will be attained.

Download the 5S guide [infographic]

Cell Design

The right cell design leads to the most product being produced in the least amount of time, for any batch size, using the least inventory.

Cell Design streamlines the linking of manual and machine operations into the most efficient combination of resources to maximize value-added content while minimizing waste. This involves the concept of process balancing where:

  • parts movement is minimized
  • wait time between operations is shorter
  • inventory is reduced
  • productivity increases

Proven Techniques in Optimized Cell Design

Our consultants use a proven Cell Design methodology to improve cellular manufacturing activities.

We create a family matrix of all products the facility manufactures. Next, we calculate an objective measure of the demands for each product, and establish Takt Time (the average unit production time needed to meet customer demand). Then we conduct a thorough review of the Work Sequence, and combine work to balance the process. The end result is a new, optimized cellular manufacturing layout designed for physically improved flow.

Change Management in Cellular Manufacturing

Change is hard, for just about everyone. While optimizing production layouts creates many benefits – including increased flow, improved communications, and more balanced workloads – the process of changing the layout of the production or office environment is a major adjustment in any organization.

Our cell design consultants are specially trained and experienced not only in cellular manufacturing, but also in smoothly facilitating the associated change management processes. Their technical skills are matched by their dedication to making your project a success.

Change Management

Success in business process improvement requires a heightened awareness of the process of change management. Following the guiding principles for change creates an atmosphere of positive adaption of your changes. And by managing the change, you get better results.

Empower Your Employees

Change management is not a standalone business process improvement tool, but a process for reducing and managing resistance to change. Your company will achieve its change management goals faster by engaging all employees and empowering them with problem solving ownership.

Minimize the Negative, Emphasize the Positive

Successful change management minimizes the perceived negative consequences of change while reinforcing the perceived positive outcomes of change. Key elements of Change Management include:

Vision – Must have clear direction and unity for a well-defined Future State
Skills – Assess current skills for adequacy and identify new skills required
Incentive – Important to communicate the value and perceived benefits
Resources – Know what you have to work with in terms of people and capital
Action – Have a clear and measurable plan

Implementing Change

Our consultants evaluate potential areas of change in your work environment and identify barriers to implement changes. Company strengths are leveraged to make changes and create a custom solution to ensure success. Not only are business practices addressed but also the culture and leadership style of the company to keep resistance low and accountability high.

 

Enterprise-Wide Lean

Enterprise-Wide Lean initiatives present opportunities to increase top-line revenue and benefit from bottom-line improvements. Eliminating waste can lead to excess capacity, which can help support the development of new products, the expansion of operations, or breaking into new markets.

Lean transformation presents business growth opportunities that your competitors may not be capable of pursuing, if not pursuing their own Lean strategies.

Lean Companies are Stronger and More Nimble

Embracing a culture of continuous improvement means striking the right balance between strategy, people and processes as the company moves toward enterprise-wide Lean transformation. Lean becomes truly transformative when all company stakeholders align their processes with creating value for the customer and eliminating waste.

CONNSTEP’s experienced Lean consultants can guide the transformation of your entire business. To demonstrate our accountability, projects with our manufacturing clients are surveyed by an independent third party upon their completion in order to independently verify your results.

Kaizen

Kaizen is a Japanese term meaning “good change.” By definition, it is the relentless quest for a better way, the daily pursuit of perfection. Kaizen is a way of thinking and seeing, of always being alert to the opportunity to make changes for improvement.

A Kaizen, or Kaizen event, is a focused approach to improve a process quickly by eliminating waste wherever possible. The purpose is to rapidly make improvements to a specific product, process or area of business, resulting in incremental changes that, over time, yield larger cumulative results within your organization.

Benefits of Applying Kaizen and Lean Thinking

This continuous improvement methodology combines Lean manufacturing tools with team empowerment, brainstorming and problem solving. Typical benefits of applying Kaizen include:

  • Reduction in lead time
  • Increase in productivity and capacity
  • Reduction in inventory
  • Improvements in quality
  • Better use of space

Kaizen events are most successful when led by a facilitator and conducted by cross-functional teams to implement process improvements. Our Lean consultants help companies achieve tangible, measurable changes through Kaizen events.

Kaizen events create a learning atmosphere involving both management leadership and its workforce. Kaizen works best when a plan-do check-act cycle is used and there is a focus on cost, quality and delivery. Performed regularly, Kaizen events help companies maintain quality and establish a culture of always being on the lookout for areas of improvement. A key element of Kaizen events is that it teaches the team to “speak with data” in order to track measurable improvements.

Kaizen Event Preparation

Following the right process for Kaizen events ensures their effectiveness. This involves developing a team charter and selecting team members. In our Kaizen kit, we include a readiness checklist to complete. We also design a customized workshop for your organization with a training plan. We work with you to create a communications plan for everyone involved – management, team members, other staff and workforce – that informs them of their role and the need for their support.

Basic Rules for Kaizen Events

A Kaizen event often includes a Gemba walk. Gemba is a Japanese term meaning the “real place” or “where the action is” and in manufacturing, that’s usually the production floor. In a Gemba walk, team members are asked to think differently about what is in front of them, learning to see what is not there and possible improvements to be made.

There are 10 basic rules for conducting a Gemba Kaizen:

    1. Discard conventional ideas
    2. Think of how to do it (not why it cannot be done)
    3. Do not make excuses; question current practices
    4. Do not seek perfection, just do it now
    5. Correct mistakes immediately
    6. Spend wisdom, not money for Kaizen
    7. Wisdom emerges in adversity
    8. Seek root cause, ask ‘Why?’ 5 times
    9. Seek wisdom of 10 rather than knowledge of 1
    10. Kaizen ideas are infinite

By facilitating a Kaizen using a team-based approach to process improvement, you will increase the effectiveness of organizational improvement initiatives and develop an understanding of your workforce reactions to change and transition.

Kanban Systems

Kanban is a Japanese term meaning “signboard” and “visual signal.” It’s a production-control system that uses cards (called a Kanban) as visual triggers to control the flow of materials or parts during the manufacturing process. This visual management synchronizes the work processes within your own organization as well as those that involve your supply chain.

Kanban’s are an integral part of a Pull System which allows you to develop a sustainable material management strategy that controls the flow of information and material in a production process by replacing only what has been consumed. They are order-driven production schedules based on actual demand and consumption rather than forecasting. Implementing Pull Systems help eliminate waste in handling and storage.

Benefits of the Kanban Systems

Your business must have enough capacity to meet customer demand. But when you have a smaller amount of work to be done, you’ll either face underutilization of your workers, machines and material or you’ll face overproduction.

With the Kanban system, your workforce is cross-trained on various machines, equipment and production processes in order to tackle different manufacturing tasks as needed. This prevents underutilization of your resources. When the Kanban system is used correctly, you also avoid overproduction, the single largest source of waste for most manufacturers.

Establishing Kanban Systems

Independent and objective assistance can help you to best establish your initial strategies for flow management. Our consultants are skilled facilitators who can formally instruct your company and educate your workforce on the principles and practices of Kanban/Pull Systems. Practical application of the Kanban tool with follow-up sessions over an extended period of time will ensure sustainability.

In addition, having an outside consultant facilitate your Kanban events ensures that your organizational needs are met and established targets are reached. Our experienced Lean consultants know how to develop a sound material management strategy and apply the concepts and principles of Kanban/Pull Systems most effectively.

Lean Healthcare

Similar to Lean continuous improvement for manufacturers, Lean healthcare methodologies work to minimize waste in every process, procedure, and task through an ongoing system of improvement in healthcare facilities.

Using lean principles, all members of the organization, from clinicians to operations and administration staff, continually strive to identify areas of waste and eliminate anything that does not add value for patients. Lean methods simultaneously enable provision of better care and cost reductions.

Benefits of Lean Healthcare

How can implementing Lean help healthcare organizations?

  • It represents a new way of thinking for your healthcare system that can change the way hospitals and medical centers are organized and managed
  • It allows facilities to improve the quality of care for patients by reducing errors and waiting times
  • It’s an approach that eliminates roadblocks and streamlines processes so physicians and their staff can focus on providing care
  • It strengthens organizations for the long term by working to reduce costs and risks while facilitating growth and expansion
  • It breaks down barriers that may exist between departments to allow them to better work together for the benefit of patients

Change is Constant

Change is ongoing in healthcare settings. From clinical integration to electronic health records, from market-driven exchanges to value-based payments, all aimed at eliminating preventable medical errors.

Also, reimbursement to healthcare providers continues to decline at both the federal and state level, making it imperative that healthcare leaders transform their organizations through strategies that concurrently increase revenue and sharply reduce costs.

Quite simply, Lean Healthcare can lead to better outcomes in improving quality of care, patient safety, and employee engagement while lowering costs.

Get training in Lean thinking and methodologies to improve business processes in your healthcare environment.

Lean Office

The Lean principles and tools utilized in manufacturing operations can also be applied to your office. The efficiencies that Lean methodologies bring to the shop floor can expedite your administrative processes to improve the flow of information and enhance productivity while eliminating wasteful steps.

The typical ways in which wasteful behavior and procedures can be seen in an office include:

  • Excess paperwork
  • Redundant approvals
  • Inefficient work area/design
  • Incomplete or inaccurate information
  • Complex tracking systems

Accurate estimating, efficient order handling and responsive customer service help to protect your profits, maintain your reputation and keep you competitive.

A Team Effort

The implementation of Lean, either on the production floor or in the front office, begins with a commitment to it by company leadership. They are the ones who empower a front-line team. A Lean office has a continuous improvement culture where everyone believes it is part of their job to reduce waste and make better progress every day.

A Lean office has standardized processes that are followed by everyone. It’s important to have set standards given that people who do the same process often follow different methods to do it. Otherwise it’s difficult to get the whole administrative team on the same page when accomplishing specific tasks around the office.

Better flow also results from a Lean office which enables work to move from start to finish by the shortest means possible. Variations in demand affect not only the shop floor but also the front office. Getting a handle on demand patterns, and understanding all the various tasks of office workers is essential to running a Lean office.

Improve Your Office Processes

CONNSTEP’s process improvement experts can help your business implement Lean office principles to the administrative services function of your front office.

We’ll show you ways that eliminate waste in your office and increase productivity which will result in:

  • Shorter response time to customers
  • Reduced errors, transactions and costs
  • Simplified processes
  • Improved utilization of resources
  • Increased capacity
  • Higher customer and employee satisfaction

Contact us to discuss the merits and benefits of implementing Lean methodologies to create greater efficiencies in the office of your business.

Plant Layout

Having an effective plant layout is one of the keys to success in managing your shop floor. It not only has a direct effect on the efficiency of your productivity but also affects the total operation of your company, including the production processes, inventory, capacity, and administration.

By optimizing your plant layout, you can:

  • maximize the space you’re in for the best value
  • avoid costly moving expenses and building hassles
  • get the most out of any new space
  • increase capacity with greater efficiency

Uncover Plant Layout Efficiencies

Who doesn’t want a more productive shop floor and more capacity? CONNSTEP works with you to improve capacity and boost production for greater profitability, whether you’re relocating your facility or looking to expand your current one. We often uncover plant layout efficiencies business owners never imagined.

Our Plant Layout experts follow a proven methodology to assess production plant operations and quickly discover plant efficiency improvements. Using value stream mapping we identify immediate opportunities to clear bottlenecks and roadblocks you might not have realized.

We deliver a logistics plan to you that directs product flow through your plant in the most efficient manner, so your existing resources can produce even more – in less time.

Moving Your Facility

While we’ve helped many Connecticut companies avoid costly moves and building expansions, sometimes a facility move is the best answer. CONNSTEP helps owners plan efficiencies into the new plant layout, and get the most value from the new facility immediately.

Generally, business owners considering a move will contact us when they’re:

  • initially thinking about a new facility
  • relocating production to a new location
  • running up against capacity constraints in their current location
  • needing to expand their facility to accommodate growing operations

An independent, objective viewpoint can make all the difference. We can help you determine whether you really need to move or expand in place with our expert Plant Layout methodology. Save valuable time, energy, and money. Contact us to schedule a brief assessment and start taking advantage of undiscovered plant layout opportunities at your business.

Setup Reduction

Setup is the activity that takes place between your process steps, that non-productive time while changing a production line from one product to another. Reducing the amount of setup downtime improves the productivity of your operation.

Reduce Downtime with Quick Changeovers

Minimizing the setup times of your processes and equipment will help you accomplish quicker changeovers and allow your business to benefit from:

  • Shorter lead times
  • Less material waste
  • Fewer defects
  • Less inventory needed
  • Lower space requirements
  • Higher productivity

Achieve Faster Changeovers

Many companies underestimate the gains to be made in setup reduction activities. The first step in improving any process is to thoroughly understand its current state which CONNSTEP considers the best place to start analyzing the changeover. We initiate a team-based approach with your organization to document the current changeover.

Following basic Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) principles helps to identify ways to reduce or eliminate setup times.

Improvements can then be implemented and their results monitored. Once proven effective, the improved changeover techniques can then be standardized.

Leverage Our Expertise

CONNSTEP Lean manufacturing consultants have extensive expertise in setup reduction techniques that yield well-documented results. We can help your company implement a proven methodology for collecting the right data and analyzing the important phases of your setup reduction processes.

By combining our experienced and knowledgeable perspective with our expert group facilitation skills, your team will learn how to explore all possible areas for improvement. We’ll leverage our expertise to enable you to shorten setup times, expand production time, and achieve higher capacity without increasing direct labor.

Supply Chain Development

Managing your supply chain requires you to plan, control and execute your product’s flow from materials to production to distribution in the most economical way possible. Having a reliable, sustainable supply chain is critical to your business.

Success is accomplished when you partner with suppliers on mutual goals, properly manage expectations, and balance unavoidable constraints. This enables you to:

  • shorten delivery and lead times
  • gain control over your master production schedule
  • identify and resolve critical supplier constraint points
  • implement creative solutions that deliver quantifiable results

Maximize the Potential of Your Supply Chain

Developing and managing a supply chain requires collaboration and risk management to create alignment and communication between all the participants. Through a collaborative value stream mapping approach, CONNSTEP can work with you to identify your most profitable relationships and make them even more productive.

Meet industry standards and achieve certifications that satisfy your supply chain requirements with our quality management expertise. We’ll help you take the guesswork out of knowing when parts will come back, and remove the obstacles holding up your own delivery efforts or impacting your quality performance.

Supply Chain Vulnerability Assessment

Supply chains are vulnerable to disruptions due to a variety of reasons from natural disasters, to pandemics, and business closures. CONNSTEP offers an assessment which measures your supply chain vulnerability and delivers a roadmap of recommendations to address any shortcomings.

Some of what you’ll discover includes:

  • Implications and associated risks of sole, single and multiple source suppliers
  • Opportunities to shield your company’s financial performance from risk in your supply chain
  • Connections between supply chain vulnerabilities and your delivery and quality performance

Contact us to schedule an assessment to identify and remedy threats to your supply chain.

Move Your Business Forward

Building a seamless operation that accounts for suppliers’ capabilities, capacity, and scheduling within your own planning activities is key. CONNSTEP can help you prioritize actions and effectively allocate resources to reach your goals and ensure that your business is on a sustainable course for the future. We’ll work with you to:

1) Create a Strategic Plan That Delivers

  • make data-driven decisions to support key business objectives
  • distinguish your unique capabilities and value proposition
  • identify and pursue the right priorities with the right resources

2) Meet Changing Demands with Flexibility & Capacity

  • produce new parts with efficiency and confidence
  • exceed customer expectations with faster speed to market
  • produce excellent quality with built-in mistake proofing

3) Develop New Products Faster

  • innovate quicker to market with faster throughput
  • employ smarter resource and capacity management
  • concentrate on the most profitable priorities

4) Exhibit Reliability with Quality Standards & Certifications

  • gain expertise in obtaining ISO 9000 certification
  • improve your internal quality auditing
  • leverage your certifications for business development

Turn the way you manage your supply chain into a strategic advantage and capture more new business for your company.

Total Productive Maintenance

While you may think your equipment is running well with no issues, generally it is just a matter of time before you suffer an equipment loss or breakdown. Maximizing equipment for its entire life cycle requires close attention to detail.

By implementing a Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) plan for your organization, you can minimize or eliminate equipment failures. You can maximize the productivity of your company’s equipment and extend the life of it with a TPM plan.

Protect and Extend the Life of Your Equipment

TPM is a series of methods that ensures every piece of equipment in a production process is always able to perform its required tasks so production is never interrupted. It is a comprehensive, team-based, continuous activity that enhances normal equipment maintenance activities and involves every worker.

TPM leverages your Lean initiatives by helping you focus on equipment maintenance and improvements required to implement methods such as one-piece flow, quick changeover, and load leveling. You are also able to improve your first-time-through quality levels.

Develop a TPM Plan

CONNSTEP can work with you and your workforce to create a Total Productive Maintenance plan for your business.

We’ll guide you through the TPM process to achieve goals that:

  • improve equipment performance and availability
  • increase workforce knowledge, safety and job satisfaction
  • reduce unexpected or emergency downtime
  • increase equipment first-time-through quality levels
  • maximize equipment productivity and capacity

With all employees participating in the process, TPM creates an environment that encourages improvement efforts in safety, quality, cost, delivery and creativity. Let us show you how.

Training Within Industry

Training Within Industry (TWI) is a proven tool applied to anyone who teaches anybody to do anything. It’s ideally suited for supervisors, team leaders, and those indirectly managing others. Once it’s taught, it helps sustain high performance and excellence in quality.

The methodology of TWI enables a worker to get up to speed quickly and accurately by:

  • Showing them the important steps to complete a specific task
  • Reinforcing key points related to the tasks of the job
  • Explaining the reasons why the job is done that way

For manufacturing companies concerned about retiring employees taking their production and operational knowledge with them, TWI can help capture that experienced know-how and transfer it to the remaining workforce.

TWI Programs

TWI is an improvement process with a set of standardized programs that addresses the essential skills needed by anyone who leads the work of others. It can help transfer valuable knowledge of seasoned workers to younger and newer employees in an organization. And it can ensure that a job is done correctly and consistently over time.

TWI – Job Instruction

Training Within Industry Job Instruction (JI) establishes a single best method, or one best way, for doing a job and allows a trainer to transfer knowledge to a learner quickly while also verifying comprehension. The purpose is to get workers fully trained and adding value to the organization in the shortest period of time possible while preventing problems that could arise from faulty instruction.

Proper Job Instruction can eliminate a majority of the most common problems related to:

  • Safety
  • Quality
  • Productivity
  • Employee Relations

JI is a practical training tool, especially in the mass production setting, as it helps to facilitate greater speed to market and remove waste associated with training time. The results are often higher production, better quality, and lower costs.

TWI – Job Relations

The Training Within Industry Job Relations (JR) program involves teaching supervisors how to handle problems, how to prevent them from occurring, and it helps in developing a logical, common sense approach to tackling issues with a people-centric view.

The core elements of JR teach the basics of consensus-building and individual problem-solving. It creates the foundation of positive employee relations. By developing and maintaining strong working relationships, problems are prevented which leads to earning loyalty and cooperation from your workforce.

TWI – Job Safety

TWI Job Safety (JS) helps supervisors decrease employee injuries and potential causes. JS training follows an accident-preventing methodology based on a simple and logical framework centered on analysis of accident causes and possible countermeasures.

JS plays a critical role in the manufacturing industry. This program teaches supervisors a method to analyze the chain of events leading to accidents and hazardous situations. Root causes are identified and remediated to alleviate accidental occurrences. JS stresses that the relationship of the supervisor and employees plays a pivotal role in a safe and environmentally responsible workplace.

TWI – Job Methods

TWI Job Methods (JM) is the TWI program that focuses on improving work processes and procedures. It assists employees in recognizing the waste inherent in current methods and how to reduce those wastes utilizing existing resources.

The purpose of the JM program is to produce greater quantities of quality products in less time by making the best use of the people, machines, and materials currently available. It conditions and develops individuals to break down a job into its details and eliminates wasteful tasks, combines and rearranges necessary tasks, and simplifies required tasks.

Job Methods yields significant benefits including reduced cost through productivity gains, increased throughput, and reduced work in process.

CONNSTEP can help you determine which TWI program is most appropriate and beneficial for your business and workforce. Contact us to learn more.

Value Stream Mapping

A Value Stream refers to the set of actions or activities done by your organization to design, order, produce and deliver products or services to customers. It involves both value added and non-value added steps.

Value Stream Mapping is an essential Lean tool that gives you a visual representation of the product information and material flow through a value stream. With Value Stream Mapping, you can:

  • visualize production workflow from beginning to end (supplier to customer)
  • diagnose problems easier and clear roadblocks quicker
  • discover immediate improvement opportunities

Your Value Stream Team

A Value Stream Mapping project begins by:

  • clearly defining the current state of your operations
  • carefully drawing visual graphics or icons of every process in the material and information flow
  • detailing customer requirements and going through all the major production activities

Developing a visual map of the value stream allows everyone to fully understand and agree on how value is produced and where waste occurs, which is why it’s important to involve all of the key individuals participating in that value stream as part of your team. This will help build consensus in developing the most accurate map of the value stream as possible.

Creating a team charter that outlines the problem and sets the project scope is an initial step, followed by physically walking through the process and collecting key data. From there, a current state map can be developed where your team can brainstorm and work together to recommend ideas for potential improvements. This leads to an objective plan for an improved future state – one that is based on better flow and less waste.

After new Lean manufacturing processes for material and information flow are implemented, the team can then go back and create a fresh, new Value Stream Map that measures the real-time results of the improvements and illustrates further opportunities for adjustments and even better flow.

Establish Performance Measurements

Maximizing value stream profitability requires developing a set of measurements throughout the organization that thoroughly reflect the company’s Lean strategies and goals. Your team will have some normal adjustment issues as traditional measurements are replaced with Lean performance measurements designed to monitor and motivate behavior.

Your team will be driven by how progress is measured which makes selecting your measurement metrics a key variable to your success in Value Stream Mapping. Providing everyone with timely and relevant feedback will help keep them engaged in your improvement efforts.

Ensuring Success

Bringing in an outside expert on Lean principles and Value Stream Mapping can be key to your overall success due to the unbiased perspective, guidance and knowledge they can add to the process.

CONNSTEP’s Lean experts are very accomplished in objective Value Stream Mapping. We know how to engage your entire team in the process of improving results and actively contributing to company goals.

Our experts are specially trained and experienced in Value Stream Mapping at both supplier-to-customer and process levels, encompassing both back office and production/service delivery environments. We are also skilled in using the extended value stream map to suppliers and customers. Contact us to learn more.

Discover how CONNSTEP can help your operations.