In labs, testing often takes priority while the review is somewhat of an afterthought. However, it is important to realise that until the results are reviewed and approved, we should not consider a test to be completed. There are several reasons why review may not be completed promptly, including volatile incoming workloads and changing/competing priorities.
Companies that have successfully implemented Lean understand that the “Stability” or foundation the House of Lean is built upon is Structured Problem Solving. The iterative improvement loop offered by Structured Problem Solving allows for the correct Lean tools to be used at the correct time and in the correct way.
Service level is a key deliverable in any lean lab project, and the business will not tolerate poor lead time performance in order to deliver benefits elsewhere.
When designing lean lab solutions, a key design target is to be as productive as possible, while delivering consistently against the lead time targets of the business.
Has your QC Lab grown naturally over a period of time from a small lab into a bigger lab due to a growth in business demand? Are your employees under a lot of stress with never ending emails and phone calls from production and supply chain looking for sample approval? This expansion in activity is great news for the business but is most likely causing operational problems in your lab.
A Laboratory is usually a busy environment with many different activities simultaneously in progress. Having a good understanding of what is happening with each sample and test, or at least having quick access to that information is essential to the smooth running of that lab. Consequently, the importance of good, effective and up to date Visual Management cannot be overstated.
One of the key goals of ‘Lean Lab’ is to create lab processes that operate and are resourced at the ‘levelled demand rate’. This enables the Lab to efficiently and productively meet the needs of the business.
Building (or refurbishing) laboratories is a costly and time-consuming activity for a company. Poorly designed spaces can be costly in terms of lost productivity, slower turn around times and higher inventory of equipment and consumables.
Laboratories with project based workloads often have greater volatility in both the volume and mix of work than other lab types. The work content of later steps may only be clear after the preceding step is complete. This all adds to an inherently unpredictable workload, both for the overall lab and for individual personnel. But there are some core strategies that you can deploy to make project labs more productive.
Raw Materials / Consumables Laboratories – Understanding the Nuances and a Strategy to Ensure Best in Class Performance
Raw materials / consumables labs are integral to the smooth and stable operation of a production plant and as such they perform a very important function. The cardinal sin for an incoming materials laboratory is to cause a change in the production schedule due to a material not being released on time. While most plants will try to have some sort of fixed production schedule, production environments are inherently fluidic and dynamic in nature. This fluidity can negatively impact the lab; often leading to constant prioritization and re-prioritization cycles of materials to be tested in the laboratory. This means that a lot of unnecessary non value-add effort is expended on scheduling. The net effect of all of this is a pressurized environment where analysts feel that they are in constant firefighting mode.