Boom! It hit me on the head. What an insight? Isn't that what we do to in most of our organisations? We go faster and stop suddenly for a problem. Having spilled -- missed a delivery or scrapped something in that process-- we straight away go to increasing our mug size --more inventory. Have we considered walking in a gentler pace?
The icing on the cake was the fact that I was leading a kaizen to level load one of our high volume high mix cells (242 SKUs, 1.2 million units/year). The example made the team understand the benefits of level loading without much persuasion.
When you start out level loading, you would have to do things that seem counter intuitive to lean. Isn't it the beauty of lean, reconciling the paradoxes? Most of us think Lean as just reducing inventory. It blows my top off whenever I hear this. I feel like smacking them on their head and show them the words of Ohno. Lean is about reducing leadtime by taking waste out of the system. It's all about the timeline.
In my opinion level loading is the most important thing after 5S. All your fancy lean tools can wait until then. Why is it so important?
For you to understand level loading, I’ll have to start with how our brain works. We respond better to rhythm. We are hard wired to follow a rhythm. Once a pattern in established our brain can intuitively build on that to come up with a well defined system. Before reading further watch this video.
There are different levels of level loading. What I’m going to talk about is the first level, the level where you take you existing systems and level according to it. This by itself should reduce a lot of waste freeing up resources to make further improvements and put you on an upward spiral. Since I hate overloading you with information at one go, I’m going to stop here. We will wrap up in the next two to three posts. This is what you can expect in the next post : How traditional notions of cost will come in conflict with level loading? How the cost model doesn’t make sense?