Our new Interactive Questionnaire

Nowadays, there is a growing interest among managers in engineering-industrial concepts such as industrialization 4.0 and operational excellence. To stand out, companies must not only build a culture of continuous improvement, but also use tools to measure their performance, assess their level of maturity and direct their efforts in those areas. Whether to optimize its processes, increase the quality of its products or reduce production costs, any company has an interest in having a portrait of its current situation. The traditional method is to hire a specialist engineer or meet an industrial engineering expert in person to draw a portrait of the company, which necessarily involves an investment. Groupe Clermont Conseil considered it was important to develop, through our continuous improvement consultants, the first free self-assessment questionnaire to measure the maturity of a company and propose solutions adapted to its context.

A real impact on productivity 

According to our survey of more than 200 manufacturing companies in the Montreal metropolitan area, 50% of companies place a high value on performance measurement. However, a study by Proaction International reveals that over 60% of first and second-level managers do not have a positive impact on the productivity of the sector because of a gap in their management skills. It is possible to believe that more than half of the manufacturing companies have a rather vague or erroneous vision regarding the major concepts of the industry. Faced with this reality, this self-assessment questionnaire allows managers to learn more about certain concepts in industrial engineering and understand how the company can improve.   

Capture the pulse of your business 

In this context, completing our self-assessment questionnaire is a quick, efficient and cost-free solution to better understand the needs of your business. To facilitate the respondents’ comprehension, the vocabulary is entirely adapted to the language of the managers, regardless of their level of knowledge. The data collected by the questionnaire is grouped in the GCC database, but the results will not be revealed to any third party. If you want to meet our advisors, the results can be used to better identify the needs of the business and to target areas where it can improve. Everybody wins!

The maturity of a business is the degree to which the enterprise manages, documents, measures, controls and improves processes efficiently and consistently. The first part of the results reveals your level of maturity trough four key aspects of the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) model: process, personal, technology and measurement. The first, process, is the performance, agility and transparency of the various operations carried out in the company. The second point, personal, represents the level of employee involvement in improvement projects, awareness of technological change as well as the performance and training of staff and communication channels. Then, the technological axis is defined by the level of effective integration of new technologies. This category reflects the digital maturity 4.0. Finally, the measurement is the ability to measure the performance of processes and employees according to the indicators. These four notions help to divide the image of your company in order to better target where the problems are located and thus allow the implementation of appropriate solutions.  

As a prescriptive guide, the questionnaire also provides you with concrete actions you could take in problem areas of the company. Here is an example of exposure of the results.

Our questionnaire is available now on the member area of our website. Seize the opportunity and take another step towards operational excellence!

https://gcc-ing.com/membres/

Six Sigma: a Solution for all Companies?

Several managers are interested in the Six Sigma method. Some want to apply this methodology without even knowing what needs it meets. The topic is not only known 

by most project managers but his addressed in several articles that do not actually help managers to determine if the method meets their needs. 

Six Sigma in brief: 

Six Sigma is a quality management tool that aims to reduce the variability of products and services. More precisely, this tool co

nsists of all the elements of a process being found in an interval that is at most 6 Sigma away from the overall average. Reducing the variability reduces the possibility of errors or non-compliance with t

he recipient’s requirements. Instead of fixing errors, this method aims to produce in the manner expected from the first time. It provides organizations with tools to optimize their processes and reduce defects. 

 

Elements to consider: 

To apply this method, it is important to be able to measure the process in question. We must also consider that Six Sigma is a long process that must be learned to master. Therefore, it is important to entrust this change to professionals in continuous improvement. There are several criteria to consider before thinking about implementing Six Sigma: 

Available time 

Implementing Six Sigma in business processes takes time and is not suitable for short-term improvement needs. 

Investment capacity 

The application of the Six Sigma method is generally expensive since it requires the purchase of equipment, the training of employees and the restructuring of certain processes. However, the return on investment is usually very high when the method is well established. 

Business culture 

Openness to change and the commitment of management are essential to implement this method. We must also look at the level of employee engagement. For example, if employees are not motivated, dissatisfied, or do not realize the expected benefits from their work, it is difficult to implement Six Sigma properly and efficiently. In this case, the solution is found on the one hand in terms of human resources. All members of the organization must be ready to understand and participate in the establishment of Six Sigma. 

There are several other quality management and continuous improvement tools and each respond to a need. 

  • Kaizen: increase the efficiency of processes and eliminate wastage
  • 5S: organize the work environment
  • VSM: mapping processes to facilitate decision-making on change
  • SMED: decrease the time of change of the production lines
  • Kanban: getting the right materials at the right time to reduce shortages and costs

The Lean Six Sigma approach combines many of these tools to promote the quality of products and processes to eliminate waste. Stay tuned for our next publications to find out more. 

Implementing a continuous improvement approach successfully requires a lot of knowledge and multidisciplinary know-how. Before investing time and money, it is important to consult professionals in the field. By entrusting this improvement project to consultants specialized in operational management, you avoid overburdening your project managers who already have mandates to achieve. This also ensures that your project is in good hands with industrial engineering professionals. 

Consult an expert at Groupe Clermont Conseil to better understand the needs of your organization. 

Choose Between FIFO and LIFO

In order to remain competitive, several companies are increasing their inventory management efforts. In fact, the raw parts and the finished products stored can become very expensive and the secret of a good logistics resides in the movements of the goods through the warehouse. 

So which system is best for your business? 

FIFO 

First of all, FIFO (First In First Out) minimizes losses due to obsolescence. Companies that manufacture or distribute perishable products (such as food), products that have a life cycle (such as clothing) or products that become obsolete after a certain time (such as high technology) use FIFO. However, the FIFO does not allow for an overall picture of the value of the inventory if the increase in inflation and prices are not followed closely. 

LIFO 

LIFO (last in first out) is best when the value of the products increases with the storage time. It is mainly used for homogeneous goods such as coal, sand, rock, etc. When a new batch arrives at the warehouse, it is put on top of the last batch. It is also useful in cases where the warehouse is small and does not allow rotating lots. LIFO makes it possible to monitor market price changes. When production costs increase, manufactured products cost more. So, if you sell those made with lower production costs, you underestimate the costs and overestimate the profits, since you are working with old information. LIFO provides more reliable and accurate earnings information. You will also be less affected by market price declines, since you will sell the products that cost the most first. 

Which method is the best? 

It depends on the type of products you make. In any case, it is important that the layout of the warehouse minimizes and facilitates travel. 

Gemba Walk

The real place 

Gemba means the “real place”. At the manufacturing level, the real place is the factory floor. According to Lean principles, problems are more visible in Gemba and better ideas for improvement are identified. 

What is it about? 

It’s about company executives, managers, supervisors, engineers or other employees, going to the factory floor and doing a Gemba walk, that is, following the process starting with the last stage of the value chain. 

Gemba walking can be done once a month or every day, depending on the number of problems. 

It is best to focus on a few issues at once and establish a list of priorities. If not, there is a good chance that the impact will be less efficient and that employees will be confused about what is in priority. If the Gemba march is done regularly and the intentions are clear and precise, then it will identify opportunities for improvement. 

Approach 

Gemba walking has no predefined approach. It’s about understanding the value chain and identifying issues by going back and forth while talking with employees. For small issues, it is even possible to directly improve them during the Gemba walk. It also involves learning about the state of machinery and equipment, learning about standard practices and getting in touch with employees while developing relationships with them. 

The place of use of the consumer 

At the design level, the Gemba also represents the place of use of the consumer. Users rarely know exactly what they need. It is therefore a question of observing the users in their environment. For example, to know the needs and constraints of a toaster, it is about observing users in their kitchen during the use of the device. The goal is to design products focused on the users. 

Are you ready to go for a walk? 

Toyotism: Applied ‘’Lean’’

Although historically Toyotism (or “Toyota Production System”) is the ancestor of “Lean Manufacturing”, hierarchically it would be better to present it as an application of “Lean”. Indeed, Toyotism goes beyond the “Lean” philosophy because it incorporates a multitude of concrete tools and presents some more specific principles that stick well to the automotive industry. To apply the “Lean” program does not necessarily mean the full respect of each of the principles of Toyotism! The 14 principles of Toyotism as well as the tools developed by Toyota to apply them give us a concrete example of a company that has been creative to become and, above all, to remain “Lean”. Here is a summary of these 14 principles: 

Establish a long-term philosophy 

  • All your decisions must respect this philosophy, even if some of them go against short-term goals. The credibility of the approach depends on it.

Set up the continuous flow 

  • Your products must always be moving (in small batches, ultimately, one at a time).
  • Limit buffer stocks.
  • Eliminate waste (“muda”).
  • Stabilize your processes.

Use the fired stream 

  • Avoid overproduction by using tools such as “Kanban”.
  • Produce / order on request and in small quantity.

Stabilize the production flow 

  • If possible, produce at a constant rate. Use demand planning tools. Avoid the trap of the end of the month.

Stop to fix problems 

  • Prioritize quality.
  • Empower people to stop a process to report a problem.

Standardize 

  • Level up.
  • Standardization of operations allows the company to learn and improve.

Implant visual controls 

  • Make sure to make the problems visible.
  • Use the “5 S” method.

Make sure the technology is at your service 

  • Do not be at the service of technology.
  • Technology must be claimed and not imposed.

Develop your leaders 

  • Make sure the principles are not just applied from top to bottom of the hierarchical structure.
  • The emergence of grassroots leaders sold to the principles must be promoted.

Train your employees in your culture 

  • As soon as you hire someone, let them know what the company’s culture is. Show that you live it by concrete examples.
  • Such training requires time.
  • Reduce staff turnover.
  • Implement ongoing training on your corporate culture.

Help your partners help you 

  • Consider your suppliers as integral to the success of your business. Help them get better, support them during difficulties.
  • Make sense of the word partner.

Live the problems 

  • Be on site during problems (“Stand in the Circle”). See them personally.

Understandthen act quickly 

  • Make sure you understand the ins and outs of different solutions available to you to solve a problem.
  • Make a thoughtfuldecision butact quickly. 

Learn through continuous improvement 

  • Consult your employees.
  • Encourage them on a regular basis to submit ideas.
  • Organize “Kaizen” events.
  • Continuous improvement is not a project, it’s a way of life.

Many, if not most, companies adhere to these principles, but few integrate them. Common mistakes include blind application and lack of attendance. Adapt them, become “Lean” in your own way! Apply them every day and you will see the sustainable competitive advantage they provide. 

The 5 S: the Pivot of Continuous Improvement

The “5 S” method is one of the most important Japanese methods used for continuous improvement. This is an essential preliminary for any improvement project. It builds a functional work environment governed by simple and effective rules.

The implantation consists of five steps:

Eliminate (Seiri)

The first step is to remove any material that is not needed in the work area. It is recommended to identify each article deemed unnecessary with a red sticker to allow employees to validate if the items are useless before eliminating them.

Organize (Seiton)

The second step is to establish a place for everything and put each one in its place. Each object must be visible and accessible. In addition, one must be able to easily identify missing objects. In the case of closed drawers, a list of objects in the storage unit must be visible from the outside.

Clean (Seiso)

Now that useful objects have their own place, it’s time to thoroughly clean workstations and equipment. Everything must be clean; the ceiling, the floor, the tools, the equipment and the work areas. Thus, power outages and equipment malfunctions will be diagnosed quickly and the risk of an accident at work will inevitably decrease.

Standardize (Seiketsu)

The fourth step is to define the responsibilities to ensure that the work is standardized. A proven technique is to establish a work plan that defines the tasks to be performed for each position. It is necessary to establish procedures and display them.

Get involved (Shitsuke)

The last step is to ensure that the efforts made are maintained. To do this, internal audits are in order. A team is then responsible for evaluating each workstation at regular intervals. This team must include workers and a management representative to show the seriousness of the project.

The results of the audits must be posted at each workstation so that employees can see their progress. It is suggested that this performance be part of the employee evaluation.

The “5S” produces spectacular and indisputable results, it physically transforms the work environment which is manifested in terms of more suitable work habits, improving safety and productivity of the working environment. Like any management method, in order to observe results, it requires a strong involvement of the senior management and a step of information, training and supervision.

Be Fault-Proof With Poka-Yoke

Poka-Yoke is a Japanese term that means ” fault-proof ”. In other words, the design of the product is designed to prevent the user from making mistakes and causing damage. A good example is a sink. There is a hole at the upper limit of it, in case the user would forget to turn off the tap. The faucet handle is also very simple to understand: it is lifted to increase the flow of water and it is lowered to reduce and stop it.


At the manufacturing level, the idea is to design the processes, the equipment and the tools so that the operations cannot be executed incorrectly. 

How to identify potential errors? 

Poka-Yoke has no magic procedures to apply to its processes so t

hat they become error-proof. However, there are several concepts to be adopted to ensure that potential errors are identified before the product is considered defective. First, it is important to have a multidisciplinary team that will assess all possible concerns. Subsequently, it is a question of identifying the sources of errors and classifying them in these categories: 

  • The required action is not executed or is executed incorrectly.
  • An undesirable action is performed.
  • The essential information to perform the action is misinterpreted.
  • The action is not performed correctly because of the complexity.

Next, use one of the techniques below to ensure that the error is 100% detected: 

  • Use preventive devices such as jigs, anti-fouling systems, proximity sensors, warning lights, alarms, etc.
  • Modify the design to ensure that the assemblingofthe parts can only be done in one way. 

These techniques should be an integral part of the process and be visible to the operator for alerting. Of course, the inspections during the process and the final inspection remain essential.

What is Operational Excellence?

Although there is no consensus in the definition of “operational excellence”, it is safe to say that it is a strategic management goal that aims to put in place, control and to evolve a robust system of absolute efficiency.

How to make sure you stay in the game?

To stay in the game, your system must be:

Efficient

  • To produce at the right pace and in quality, while using the minimum of necessary resources to add value to the product.

Flexible

  • To integrate the different products and the different options required by the market.
  • To perform a multitude of heterogeneous operations from a limited number of resources.

Agile

  • To be able to produce small batches of different products.
  • To switch from one model to another without any impact on quality, efficiency or time of exposure.

Improve continuously

Obviously, this system must be able to adapt to the market and keep pace with growth, while remaining competitive and developing continuously.

Why should you target operational excellence?

To successfully respond to the market and continue to grow, your production system must be efficient, flexible and agile.

But if you succeed in giving full satisfaction to consumers with the minimum cost, you will get a loyal customer base and a financially healthy company. At the same time, you will get a very competitive price that will attract a new clientele.

How to achieve operational excellence?

Unfortunately, there are no miracle recipes. Each company has its own context, its parameters and its objectives, hence the importance of a good analysis of the situation.

In general, however, the first step is to take back control of the system and make it efficient.

You can’t give flexibility or agility to a system that is not in control.

What is an efficient system?

The whole company needs to have the same understanding of what an efficient system means, which will help channel everyone’s efforts into achieving it.

However, the efficient system sought must provide either the good or the service requested by the customer in the right quantity and quality, while using only the minimum of resources necessary to give the optimal value to which your product corresponds.

That said, there are dozens of theories, techniques, and ways to get things done. However, the ideal approach is to choose what suits your business and work according to this approach.

Moreover, once you have chosen your plan of action, you will only have to jump in the fascinating adventure of transforming a reactive system into a proactive, efficient, flexible, agile and evolutionary system. In addition, to set measurable goals: choose an experience guide, use the capabilities of your internal resources, but most of all trust what you do and stay the course despite the pitfalls.

The subject could certainly be deepened, so do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have specific questions. Your suggestions of articles are also welcome.

Organize and Accelerate Changes With Kaizen

GCC Consultants completed the second Green Belt Training Weekend of the Lean Six Sigma program. Indeed, we simulated the process of processing a mortgage application and attempted to make improvements based on Lean’s principles. As part of this simulation, we did a mini-Kaizen that allowed us to accelerate changes and optimize the process which was a great success. Initially we had a lead time of more than sixteen minutes and we managed to reduce it to two minutes!

In this article, Kaizen is honored as well as the reasons why it might be useful for your business.

Definition of methodology

The Kaizen system comes from the Japanese words “kai” and “zain” which mean change and good, which can also be translated as continuous improvement. This system was introduced by Toyota in the 40s.

Kaizen could be useful for your business if you want, among other things, to analyze and improve a process or layout. In addition, it can solve specific problems, such as reducing non-value-added activities.

This methodology is based on teamwork and requires full participation and intensive work from the employees involved. A Kaizen can last from one to ten days depending on the size of the project.

In addition, Kaizen is useful for both manufacturing and administrative processes.

A “pre-Kaizen” is needed to establish the project charter as well as the multidisciplinary team that will participate in the workshop. Employees from all services and levels involved must work together. Their involvement in analyzing the process and identifying opportunities for improvement is the key to Kaizen’s success.

During Kaizen, employees are invited to share their ideas. The facilitator is in charge of well aligning the discussions. Everything happens in eight steps:

  1. Definition of the problems and the seven sources of waste;
  2. Collection and analysis of information;
  3. Simplification of the process;
  4. Detection of recurring sources of waste and suggestions for improvement;
  5. Validation and simulation of solutions;
  6. Development of desired performance indicators to be put in place;
  7. Implementation of changes in the workplace;
  8. Celebration and organization of a recognition activity.
  9. Finally, we need to track changes made by auditing and measuring the impact of changes.

If Kaizen is well done, your company could reap several benefits, such as improving the quality of the products or services offered, increasing productivity and decreasing production lead times, and ultimately better working conditions and improved productivity. stronger involvement of workers.

Define Processes With SIPOC

Définir les processus avec le SIPOC

Two years ago, GCC team started Green Belt training. This training took place over three weekends. Then, the Black Belt portion was given a few weeks later in January 2017. The first weekend of training focused on the basics of Lean Six Sigma and ways to properly define, analyze and measure a project.

SIPOC

One of the tools that has been presented is SIPOC. This is part of the defining phase of the Lean Six Sigma philosophy. It is in fact a high-level mapping of a process, a global image that allows a team to see their process in relation to all inputs, outputs, suppliers and customers. It also allows all members of the team to be on the same wavelength. It is a good starting point if you want to make changes to the current process or to completely redefine it. It identifies gaps such as inputs that are not received, outputs that customers receive when they don’t want them or process steps that are completed, but that do not bring any added value.

In addition, SIPOC is a good tool for communicating more easily with people who are unfamiliar with the process.

An example of SIPOC

Below, an example of SIPOC for the purchase of a new car. It should be noted that suppliers can be both inside and outside the organization. Inputs and outputs can be materials, services or information.