What Is a Gemba Walk?

Gemba Walk Image

In our continuing focus on continuous improvement (did you see what we did there?) in general and lean manufacturing in particular, we thought we’d write an introduction to to the ideas of gemba, going to the gemba, and gemba walks in this article.

The idea of a gemba walk is central to how lean manufacturing attempts to increase organizational learning, reduce waste, increase value, and generally improve over time.

And since we figure you’ve got an interest in lean manufacturing, we’ve included a free What Is 5S? infographic for you at the bottom of this article.

Read on for your quick introduction to the gemba and gemba walks.

(more…)

Read More

Implementing Continuous Improvement Efforts at Work

Continuous Improvement Image

Every business wants to improve–or should want to. And although there are many different ways for companies to get better, there IS a nice, existing continuous improvement toolbox that businesses can use from the first steps all the way to the maturity of their continuous improvement journey.

In this article, we’ll profile some of the standard continuous improvement techniques, with a focus on those that organizations should implement first, and we’ll toss in a few other ideas related to learning theory and organizational learning that you might not find in other resources dedicated to continuous improvement methodologies.

We hope you find this article helpful and that it moves you forward on your own continuous improvement adventure. And we invite you to touch base with us to ask any questions you may have on the topic.

Finally, because the P-D-C-A cycle is one of standard and proven tools used for continuous improvement in workplaces throughout the world, we’ve created a free P-D-C-A Cycle infographic that you can download for free.

(more…)

Read More

What Is Facilities Maintenance?

Facilities Maintenance Image

We provide a lot of training materials for maintenance technicians, and as a result we wanted to write some articles introducing people to different types of maintenance, including facilities maintenance, the subject of this article.

In other recent article, we introduced you to mechanical maintenance and electrical maintenance. Check those out too if they strike your fancy.

And in a second (upcoming ) series of maintenance-related articles, we’ll introduce you to 5 maintenance strategies, including reactive/corrective maintenance, preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance, and conditions-based maintenance. So stay tuned for all that.

For now, though, let’s dive into our introduction to facilities maintenance. (more…)

Read More

Benefits of Preventive Maintenance

Preventive Maintenance Training Image

Maintenance can be a major effort at a company, and maintenance costs can chew up a lot of dollars.

And I’m probably telling you nothing new when I say that when maintenance isn’t done, and something breaks, the cost of downtime can be even more significant.

One way to spend less on maintenance in general, and to lose less on maintenance-related downtime, is to practice a preventive maintenance approach.

In this article, we offer a Q&A on some basic topics related to maintenance and preventive maintenance.

Before you begin, you might want to check this short sample from our online Equipment Maintenance and Reliability training course.

(more…)

Read More

What Is Electrical Maintenance?

Electrical Maintenance Image

We provide a lot of training materials for maintenance technicians, and as a result we wanted to write some articles introducing people to different types of maintenance, including electrical maintenance, the subject of this article.

In other recent articles, we introduced you to mechanical maintenance and facilities maintenance.

And in a second (upcoming ) series of maintenance-related articles, we’ll introduce you to 5 maintenance strategies, including reactive/corrective maintenance, preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance, and conditions-based maintenance. So stay tuned for all that.

For now, though, let’s dive into our introduction to electrical maintenance. (more…)

Read More

What Is Mechanical Maintenance?

Mechanical Maintenance Image

We provide a lot of training materials for maintenance technicians, and as a result we wanted to write some articles introducing people to different types of maintenance, including mechanical maintenance, the subject of this article.

In other articles, we introduce you to electrical maintenance and facilities maintenance.

And in a second series of maintenance-related articles, we’ll introduce you to 5 maintenance strategies, including reactive/corrective maintenance, preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance, and conditions-based maintenance.

For now, though, let’s dive into our introduction to mechanical maintenance.

(more…)

Read More

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Safety Challenges and Solutions

Like manufacturers in all industries, pharmaceutical manufacturers and their employees face real and serious health and safety issues. In some cases, the hazards are the same ones we find in most manufacturing facilities. In other cases, the hazards are more specific to pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Likewise, pharmaceutical manufacturers use hazard controls and risk mitigations that are common to many industries as well as more specific to pharmaceutical manufacturing, including all levels of the hierarchy of controls, from elimination down to administrative controls such as training for pharmaceutical safety and the use of PPE.

We’ll look at some pharmaceutical manufacturing challenges (hazards) and solutions (controls) below.

(more…)

Read More

Safety Classics Reconsidered: An Interview with Ron Gantt

Safety Classics Reconsidered Image
The other day we called up our friend Ron Gantt, the Safety Differently thinker, to get his take on some standard ideas in traditional safety.

In particular, we asked Ron for his take on (1) safety and compliance; (2) safety indicators–lagging and leading; (3) safety measurement; (4) Heinrich’s safety pyramid; (5) SOPs, work as planned, and work as performed; (6) job hazard analyses, or JHAs; (7) the hierarchy of controls; (8) incident investigations & root causes; (9) behavior-based safety; (10) risk & risk management; and (11) safety culture.

Ron was kind enough to answer all our questions in helpful and thought-provoking ways (which is typical for Ron).

You can watch a recording of our discussion below (watch for the appearances of Ron’s dogs!) or read a transcript  below. And we’ve included some links to earlier discussions about Safety Differently with Ron below as well.

We’d like to thank Ron once again and we are sure you’ll find this discussion interesting.

Check out these other discussions with Ron, too:

(more…)

Read More

What Is a Hackathon?

Hackathon Image

As a company focused on helping companies improve workplace performance, we’ve got a lot of interest in techniques intended to help solve problems, be more creative, and innovate more. For example, check out our articles on learning organizations, design thinking, facilitating change, learning teams, and innovation.

And that’s why we asked our good Dr. Stella Lee to have a discussion with us about hackathons (you may remember Dr. Lee from our earlier discussion on disruptive technologies in L&D).

Thanks to Dr. Lee for telling us what a hackathon is, sharing with us some reasons to hold a hackathon, and giving us specific tips on how to hold a hackathon based on her own personal experiences doing so (pus she shared some great resources for learning more!).

You can listen to our recorded discussion immediately below or, if you’d prefer, we’ve typed up the transcript below that.

(more…)

Read More

Intro to Systems Thinking for Workplace Performance Improvement

Systems Thinking Image

It’s common to hear people talking about the importance of systems thinking in the workplace these days.

The point that folks make is that if you want to really solve problems, or really grasp opportunities, you’ve got to think of issues systemically.

I’ve heard this same basic point made by people in different work circles: learning and development, safety, operations, maintenance, HR, and more.

And beyond that, the point is often extended with some helpful advice: think of connections instead of disconnections/silos; think in circles instead of in a linear manner; think in wholes instead of parts; think of synthesis instead of analysis; think of relationships instead of about things in isolation. Be big-picture. Be holistic.

And that advice is good, to a point. But I also find it somewhat vague and hard to act on.

As a result, I decided to do a little reading on systems thinking to learn more. I’m hoping that by learning about different systems archetypes, different components of systems, and the different ways systems grow/decline, it will make it easier to identify systems at work, determine how they work, and then try to change them when I want to.

I’m doing this as a bit of a “learning out loud” project, not entirely knowing where this will go or how useful it will be. As a result, even though I always invite your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below, that’s especially true for this article. If you’ve got your own favorites sources about systems thinking, your own thoughts about systems thinking and how to apply it at work, or if you can begin to point out how to apply some of the lessons below in specific contexts, please do share! NOTE: Here’s one by Steven Shorrock on Systems Thinking for Human Factors that just got published.

In the credit-where-credit is due section, I should note that this article is largely based on the first-half of the book Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows. We are deeply endebted to Meadows here and in no way do we think this captures all the great thought in the book. Please consider buying a copy of the book today, as it goes into much more detail and includes many helpful examples and illustrations. It’s our plan to return to some of the materials in the second-half of Meadows’ book in future articles.

(more…)

Read More

Quality Basics: PDCA & Risk Management

Quality Management Basics Image

All good quality management efforts, including those following and/or in compliance with the ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems Standard, include an emphasis on risk management and the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle for continuous improvement.

In this article, we give a brief introduction to risk management and the PDCA  cycle and their relation to quality assurance and quality management.

And don’t leave without downloading the free PDCA Cycle infographic from the bottom of this article! 

(more…)

Read More

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point for Food Safety Management

HACCP Food Safety Image

If you’re involved in food/beverage production and have food safety responsibilities, you’re required to fulfill Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, or HACCP, compliance requirements (see 21 CFR parts 120 and 123).

HACCP is a systematic and preventive food safety approach intended to avoid the introduction or and/or contamination of food by biological, chemical, and physical hazards rather than simply inspecting food products after their production to determine if they have been contaminated (this is somewhat similar to the “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound full of cure” adage).

Enjoy learning more about HACCP and it’s important role in food safety, and don’t forget to download the free 7 Tools of Quality download we’ve provided for you at the bottom of this article as well.

(more…)

Read More