Lean Methods Digest

Process improvement – Lean methods can vary considerably in function, level of effort, and complexity required. They can range from quick fixes and actions your organization can implement regularly with simple tools or team participation, to week-long and longer events that require more in-depth planning, participation and formalized methods and specialized tools. Designed to reduce waste and improve efficiency, Lean methods can be used for a variety of purposes—from making your own working environment more structured with less clutter to designing and implementing faster, better, and cheaper manufacturing and service environment methods for product and service delivery. Let’s take a look at a Lean method type:

Process Walk

A process walk, also referred to as a treasure hunt or 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 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 observe, and what causes them?

  • D – Defects
  • O – Overproduction
  • W – Waiting
  • N – Non-utilized/underused employees
  • T – Transportation
  • I – Inventory
  • M – Motion
  • E – Excess processing 

Next post we will describe another effective Lean Method in our continuing digest.  Looking for a Process Walk Checklist?  Contact Us.      


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