Lean Improvement Methods

 Sustaining Edge Solutions, Inc. Newsletter

Performance Improvement Solutions for Your Business                                 June 2014


This Month
* Lean Improvement Methods
* User Survey-ISO 14001
* Documents of External Origin
* In the News
* Training Courses


ASQ Chapter Tucson, AZ General Session June 10, 2014.  Subject: Cost of Poor Quality – Presenter Walter Tighe, SES President  
23rd Annual Service Quality Conference Sept 23-24, 2014 San Francisco, CA


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Our newsletters provide information on business management systems and process improvement methods.  These systems include ISO 9001 QMS, AS9100 Aviation, Space and Defense, ISO/TS 16949 Automotive, ISO 27001 Information Security, ISO 13485 Medical Devices, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard, and others.  Subjects include performance improvement methods such as Six Sigma, Lean Enterprise, and other topics of interest to our readers.

If you have any questions regarding content, or have a subject of interest for a future newsletter, please let us know.   

Lean Improvement Methods

Lean production is an organizational improvement philosophy and set of methods that originated in manufacturing but has expanded to many service sectors and government. Lean enables organizations to work more effectively and efficiently by identifying and eliminating waste in processes which can equate to reduced operating costs and improved customer satisfaction.

Lean methods vary considerably in function, level of effort, and complexity. They can range from quick fix actions your organization can implement regularly with minimal effort or team participation, to week-long events that require more in-depth planning, participation and a variety of formal tools. Designed to reduce waste and improve efficiency, Lean methods can be used for a variety of purposes-from making your own working environment less cluttered, think 5S to designing and implementing faster and less complex ways of delivering your customer services.

Let’s take a high level look at the different types of Lean methods we have used with clients that produced measurable results:

Simple, Structured Methods for Workplace Improvements

Lean methods, including standard work, and visual controls, are relatively easy to implement, but provide some defined structure for process improvements. These can be thought of as “Lean Daily Management” methods, since they can be implemented at any time to facilitate continuous improvement, either during or outside Lean events. For example, the 5S method can help to de-clutter and organize a workspace, making it more efficient. Standard work helps to ensure that improvements are documented and made common practice for process owners. Standardized work answers the 5W+1H of a process – the who, what, when, where, why, and how.


Event-Based Improvement Methods

Several Lean methods are implemented as “improvement events” lasting anywhere from a half-day to five days, or more. Two common types of Lean events are Kaizen events and Value Stream Mapping. These team-based methods are very powerful methods for driving improvement in processes. Although the intense period of activity in an event is focused in a few days, keep in mind that events require substantial preparation and follow-up work to be a proven success.

Advanced Lean Methods for Organizational and Customer Needs

More advanced Lean methods include Six Sigma, Strategy Deployment, and Lean Process Design. Six Sigma projects depend on a number of tools for analyzing problems involving multiple variables. These methods can require more technical expertise than typical Lean events. Lean Strategy deployment allows for strategic alignment of improvement initiatives within an organization. Also, Lean process design enables the use of Lean concepts to design processes that enhances the performance levels with respect to design and innovation.

Finding the Method for Your Improvement Goals 

Before choosing a method, it can be very helpful to have a clear sense of the initial scope of your project so you can more readily identify the method that is best suited for your needs and goals.  It is important to match your goals to the function of method, as well as to the level of resources required. 


Question: What type of problem do you have?  I don’t know, what’s a simple method?

Process Walk  

A process walk, also referred to as a waste walk, is a rapid technique to help you identify wastes in your everyday operations. A cross-functional team of employees walks through the work area over a short period of time, identifying opportunities to reduce waste and introduce improvements as they progress. Improvements can usually be implemented rapidly, resulting in quick gains. This method can help to engage employees in spotting waste in their day-to-day activities after the initial treasure hunt or process walk.

Typical Duration: A process walk is usually conducted in one day or less.

Identify the employees who are involved with the process. Have the group walk through the workplace with clipboards, while team members write down wastes as they identify them. Some questions to ask during the walk include:

  • What inputs and outputs do you see in the process?
  • Where do the outputs go?
  • What is the typical process time?
  • How many items are currently waiting to be processed?
  • What causes delays or problems?
  • What “DOWNTIME” wastes do you see, and what causes them?


D – Defects

O – Overproduction

W – Waiting

N – Non-utilized/underused employees

T – Transportation

I – Inventory

M – Motion

E – Excess processing


In our next newsletter we will discuss project scope and continue with information on types of lean methods.  Interested in a process walk checklist?  Contact us.

 User Survey – ISO 14001 Improves Performance                    


A recent survey of the environmental management system standard ISO 14001 covering its future content and its current benefits, which received over 5,000 responses, found that it is particularly useful in meeting legal requirements and improving environmental performance. However, a clearer focus on preventing pollution, eco-efficiency and life-cycle thinking should be provided in the next version of the standard.


The survey had responses from organizations of various sizes in 110 countries – a majority of whose system is built on ISO 14001 – with 46 % from small and medium-sized companies. Conducted in 11 languages, the survey was run by the ISO committee responsible for the standard. 


“The level of response was incredible. The detail of responses provides experts writing standards in this area with valuable input and real understanding,” said Anne-Marie Warris, Chair of ISO/TC 207/SC 1.” The survey was designed in part to get a better idea of what people see as the main benefits of ISO 14001 and what could be improved, as the standard is currently being revised,” explained Lisa Greenwood of the Rochester Institute of Technology, lead author of the survey report.

“For example, between 70 % and 80 % of respondents said ISO 14001 was of high or very high value with regard to meeting legal requirements and improving the environmental performance of an organization, which are important intended outcomes for an environmental management system. In addition, improving public image was also highlighted as a key benefit,” she added. On the other hand, the results suggested potential opportunities for improvement relative to stakeholder and supplier engagement.

According to the survey results, the most important issues that required more attention were reducing and controlling pollution, strategies for efficient use of resources and reducing waste and pollution, as well as identifying and evaluating the environmental aspects related to the life cycle of products and services.

ISO 14001 is currently at the Committee Draft phase (CD). The revised version is expected by mid-2015.


The full survey results and accompanying report can be found at the ISO Website.


Documents of External Origin                


A document of external origin is explicitly one that originates from outside the organization and contains specific information that the organization needs to fulfill customer requirements, regulatory, statutory, their quality management system (QMS) or comply with other requirements.


These documents have their own category because they’re handled differently from those created by the organization. Because of their origins, they can carry restrictions. An organization may use them, but it cannot change them, because the authorization for revisions, approvals, withdrawals, resides with those who authored the document.  


 Examples of documents of external origin can include: 

  • National/international standards (e.g., ISO 9001, ISO/TS 16949, ISO 17025)
  • Customer specifications (e.g., drawings, schematics, bills of material, contractual requirements)
  • Industry and product standards (e.g., clean room standards, National Electrical Manufacturers Association codes)
  • Statutory and regulatory requirements (e.g., OSHA, Environmental Protection Agency, Child Safety Protection Act, Food and Drug Administration)
  • Operating and repair manuals (i.e., manuals needed to use or maintain equipment)


The typical problem that arises with this category is that, because they aren’t created by the organization, individuals don’t perceive these documents as part of the QMS documentation. If it’s not considered a documented procedure, it’s not a “quality” document. This can inflate the many artificial dividing lines that create obstacles to a well-integrated quality management system.


Remember to remind your company personnel that it doesn’t matter if you call it a procedure, a standard operating procedure, a drawing, a directive, a computer-aided design file, a regulation or a customer mandate. If it defines requirements you need to make your organization run or bring product or services to market, it’s a document that needs to be controlled.


In the News      

Future Revision of ISO 22000 

If you are a stakeholder involved in the food chain, and you use, implement, or make reference to ISO 22000, your comments and feedback on the future standard revision are requested.

ISO 22000 Food Safety Management Standard is designed to be used by any organization across the food chain, including both large and small businesses. The standard creates a framework for establishing principles, procedures and guidelines to manage food safety while helping to develop cost-effective management in the industry. Furthermore, it provides practical tools needed for managing food safety as a single coherent system.

The committee behind ISO 22000, ISO/TC 34/SC 17, is currently running a review until mid-June to collect as many comments as possible on the standard before the revision process.
Of the manufacturers that have not implemented smart manufacturing, interest, cost and resistance from management continue to stifle deployment, according to the survey.

If you wish to suggest improvements for the next version of ISO 22000, send your comments to the ISO technical committee ISO/TC 34/SC 17- Click here.

World Accreditation Day 2014

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board will hold a Free Webinar to mark World Accreditation Day 2014, a global celebration promoted each year by the International Accreditation Forum(IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).

World Accreditation Day is a global initiative to raise awareness of the value of accreditation-related activities. Each year on June 9, IAF and ILAC invite their national representatives from around the world to mark the occasion with dedicated celebrations that honor and communicate the important role accreditation plays in the global standards and conformance community.

The webinar will take place from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT on World Accreditation Day, Monday, June 9, 2014. Speakers will discuss how international standards and related conformity assessment accreditation activities can support the work of a wide variety of organizations in different fields and sectors. Participants will have the opportunity to take part in a question-and-answer session following the panel discussion.

To register for the June 9th webinar Click Here.

Training Courses

To see the course description, schedule, and on-line registration click on the course title below. We deliver onsite training for all these courses and customized training to fit your specific needs.  We offer group discounts.  


View all our Courses

View Our Web Based E-Training Courses   

ISO 9001 Quality Management

Understanding and Implementing ISO9001:2008

ISO 9001:2008 Process Based Internal Auditor 

Documenting Your Management System

AS9100 Aviation, Space and Defense

Understanding and Implementing AS9100C (9110 &9120) Aviation, Space and Defense

AS9100C:2009 Process Based Internal Auditor

Documenting Your Management System 

ISO/TS 16949 Automotive

Understanding and Implementing ISO/TS16949:2009 Automotive

ISO/TS16949:2009 Process Based Internal Auditor
Documenting Your Management System 

ISO 14001 Environmental

Understanding and Implementing ISO14001:2004 Environmental
ISO14001:2004 Process Based Internal Auditor

Lean Enterprise and CI 

5S Five Pillars of a Lean Workplace Organization
Continuous Process Improvement
Lean Six Sigma
8 Disciplines (8D) of Problem Solving

ISO 13485 Medical Devices

Understanding and Implementing ISO 13485:2003 Medical Devices
ISO 13485 Process Based Internal Auditor 

ISO 27001 Information Security

Understanding and Implementing ISO 27001:2005 Information Security
ISO 27001 Process Based Internal Auditor 

All courses can be delivered at your company. Don’t see a course, location, or date that fits your needs?

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