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Rapid Plant Assesment
Transcript of Rapid Plant Assesment
Rapid Plant Assessment
To the trained eye, even a quick plant tour can reveal a lot about a company. Here’s how to tell if a factory is truly lean – in as little as 30 minutes - R. Eugene Goodson
Break the subject into parts. Tell how it is made.
Use any reasoning to argue for or against the subject.
or Against It
Goodson developed the Rapid Plant Assessment (RPA) in order to train his managers, and himself, to approach a plant tour with an educated eye. The RPA has since been used in more than 400 tours of over 150 operations, and the information gained has influenced activities ranging from benchmarking to competitor analysis to strategic acquisitions.
2. Prioritize change opportunities and estimate cost savings
3. Initiate lean transformation by assessing your current state, prioritizing improvement opportunities, and using kaizens to achieve your desired future state
4. Improve throughput, flow times, and inventory levels
5. Engrain a continuous improvement discipline
To the trained eye, a quick plant tour can reveal a lot about a company - if an operation looks good, it usually is. Often, however, managers ignore visual information in favor of the numbers, and as a result, fail to see important indicators regarding an operation's strengths and weaknesses. This article describes an easy to learn tool, which has proven to be very powerful in application - the Rapid Plant Assessment (RPA).
RPA Rating Sheet
The RPA rating sheet designed to assess the leanness of a plant. This tool consists of 11 categories which are given a rating from 1 (poor) to 11 (best in class). Each team member is assigned primary responsibility for some of the categories.
Two assessment tools, designed for teams undertaking a plant tour
A Tool for a Tour
As well as revealing information about other companies, the RPA can also be used on your own operations to learn what your plant is telling visitors and to identify opportunities for improvement.
RPA Rating Sheet
Table 1: Rating Sheet
1. Customer Satisfaction
Workers in the best plants clearly know who their customers are – both internal and external – and make customer satisfaction their primary goal. What’s more, they understand that it’s their job to make tours exceptional experiences so visitors leave with resoundingly positive feelings about the facility. Such care for customers, or lack thereof, is readily apparent in a brief plant tour
2. Safety, Environment, Cleanliness, and Order
In a clean and orderly plant, parts are easy to find, inventory is easy to count or estimate, and products move safely and efficiently. The plant should be well lit, the air quality good, and noise levels low. A visual labeling system should clearly mark inventory, tools, processes, and flow. A short plant tour will readily reveal how successfully the company attends to all these factors.
Rapid Plant Assesment Table
3.Visual Management System
Tools that provide visual cues and directions are readily apparent in well functioning plants. Such signage, clearly guiding employees to appropriate locations and tasks, can greatly enhance productivity. Look for organizational tools such as kanban scheduling and colorcoded production lines as well as plainly posted work instructions, quality and productivity charts, and maintenance records.Chemical and other process-industry plants typically have strong visual management practices (as opposed to multiple, fragmented displays); even the largest plants tend to display product line flows, plant layouts, and other key information on a single display.
4. Scheduling System
The best plants rely on a single “pacing process” for each product line and its suppliers. This process, usually at the end of the line, controls speed and production for all the upstream activities, much as a pace car sets the speed at a racetrack. Demand for product at each work center is triggered by demand at the next. This keeps inventory from building up, improves quality, and reduces downtime because production lines aren’t kept waiting for parts.
5. Use of Space, Movement of Materials, and Product Line Flow
The best plants use space efficiently. Ideally, materials are moved only once, over as short a distance as possible, in efficient containers. Production materials should be stored at line side, not in separate inventory storage areas. Tools and setup equipment should be kept near the machines. And the plant should be laid out in continuous product line flows rather than in “shops” dedicated to particular types of machines.
6. Levels of Inventory and Work in Process
Internal operations seldom require high inventories, so the observable number of any component part is a good measure of a plant’s leanness. You can get a quick read on inventory by watching a production line and counting the inventory at each work center. For example, if one widget comes off the line per minute, you know the line produces 60 per hour. If you count approximately 500 widgets by the work center, then you know that over eight hours of output is just sitting there.
In the best plants, people consistently focus on the plant’s goals for productivity and quality, know their jobs well, and are eager to share their knowledge with customers and visitors. Motivated employees are easily discerned during a brief tour, as are surly, unkempt, or indifferent ones; even a short talk with an operator tells you a lot.
8. Condition and Maintenance
of Equipment and Tools
In the best plants, equipment is clean and well maintained. The purchase dates and costs are stenciled prominently on the side of machinery, and maintenance records are posted. Such details ensure that workers know as much as possible about the machines and can plan for preventive maintenance.
9. Management of Complexity and Variability
This category judges how the operation manages, controls, and reduces the complexity and variability it faces in its industry. It can be difﬁcult during a tour to judge how a plant performs in this category, but you can watch for certain indicators. For instance, many companies collect (and then must process) much more data about their operations than they need; if you observe many people manually recording data and a large number of keyboards for data entry, the company may be doing a poor job of handling complexity, especially if the data collection is done by hand.
10. Supply Chain Integration
The best operations keep costs low and quality high by working closely with a relatively small number of dedicated and supportive suppliers. You can get a rough estimate of the number of suppliers by looking at container labels: Which supplier names appear on containers? Do the containers appear to be designed and labeled speciﬁcally for customized parts shipped to this plant? If a company uses multiple suppliers for the same part or family of parts, it’s unlikely that the suppliers were directly involved in the development process.
The best plants are always striving to improve quality and productivity, and it shows. Remember that initial tour of the Hoover Universal plant by Japanese executives in the early 1980s? After we received the report from that tour, our managers came to clearly understand what Toyota expected from its suppliers and began to make changes accordingly. In 1985, Hoover Universal won the contract to supply Camry seats for Toyota’s new Georgetown plant, based not on the quality or productivity in Hoover’s plants but on our highly visible commitment to continuous improvement.