Gemba Walks & IPS
“What is Lean?”, is a question many people ask me. The conventional answer is, ‘ lean means systematic identification and elimination of waste’. But, Dr. Jim Womack, who coined the term Lean has revised his definition of lean as “a daily practice of conducting experiments and accumulating knowledge”. Over the past three decades, Womack has been travelling round the world conducting his own experiments as well as observing the experiments conducted by others in their Gemba, their workplace.
“As C. Narasimhan, the former head of the operation (at Wabco-TVS) and the force behind the transformation, remarked during my tour, ‘Why do ‘catalogue’ engineers fancy machines that immediately need kaizen in order to work properly in their context? Why not just build them right from the beginning?’ And this facility has just done this, with many examples across the operation”. So writes Jim Womack in the 2nd expanded edition of GEMBA WALKS.
Published in India by us at Productivity & Quality Publishing Pvt. Ltd., for the Lean Management Institute of India, Gemba Walks offers insights, thoughts, and inspiration for every lean practitioner.
What Womack encountered at Wabco-TVS (now Wabco India Limited) with Narasimhan, wasn’t just an adoption of an efficient production system, but an adaption of the system to best suit the culture and context. In Made in India for Make in India: Indian Production System, also published by us, Narsimhan discusses the challenges of adopting the global systems in India, and shares strategies that can help turn these challenges into successes.
In the chapter on Total Lean Manufacturing ⁃ Lean Machines, Narsimhan writes:
“Machines have been the most neglected resource … as far as improving cost efficiency is concerned. The focus has been how to eliminate waste and poor efficiencies through process re-engineering and save money. As far as machines are concerned, we have focused on its output only in terms of productivity, quality and downtime. We rarely consider the following questions:
- Is the machines’ design optimally suiting our purpose?
- Are all peripherals useful for us?
- Is there an alternate solution available for the same?
- Is it operator friendly?
- Is it TPM friendly?
- What will be the running cost?
- Are we paying the right price?
Traditionally, a machine manufacturer sells a standard or a catalogue machine that has many unwanted elements not really required. They do not make build and design all peripherals in a machine; instead, assemble standard systems that are available outside. They use such systems or components keeping high buffer safety margins, resulting in over capacity peripherals…. Term such machines as FAT Machines. These add to the cost of the machine. In addition, these machines run at a higher operating cost, as they consume more energy and consumables. The cost of maintenance is also high.”
Narasimhan advocates a company design its own peripherals:
- Lean Electrical System
- Lean Hydraulic system
- Lean Coolant System
- Lean Lubrication System
- Lean Pneumatic System
He describes each of these peripherals in detail along with the benefits of lean machines such as reduced energy, oil, coolant, lubrication consumption; space saving; easy maintenance, etc. Narasimhan also provides a useful checklist for factors to be considered while buying a new machine.
That we struggle with the applications of recommendations from global instances to our manufacturing industries, should not deter us from adopting these systems but push us to adapt them into home-grown systems that are tailor made for India.