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.
QC test methods and the overall testing approach employed in laboratories can themselves be inherently wasteful. What steps should be taken to identify and eliminate such waste?
In operations where the short interval (e.g. daily or weekly) workload varies, the most common method of distributing the work is to share it equally between the available people. We call this method “available work through available people”. The consequence of this approach is that even low daily workloads expand to fill the day resulting in poor productivity. Carefully designed standard work can improve your department’s performance by consistently making the most out of people’s time.
You’re a site leader three months into your Lean Programme and on the face of it things are going well but you’ve got doubts that the organisation structure is supporting your lean journey in the way you’d want.
Day to day operations of individual departments in life science companies rely on many decisions made outside of each department’s own remit. When embarking on a Lean strategy, the pillars of operational excellence (Levelling and Flow) can be supported by increasing awareness of how each department functions and explaining constraints.
Typically, laboratory Standard Operating Procedures and Work Instructions are wordy, patch-worked documents and a hindrance to testing analysts and reviewers alike. Over their life cycle, procedures usually become increasingly difficult to decipher due to multiple disjointed revisions. As a result, training and routine testing often relies on the retained knowledge of key experienced personnel, with an accepted culture of ‘Chinese whispers’. This dependence on undocumented hints and reminders can be tackled by applying Lean thinking to the design and layout of Laboratory SOP’s.
Recently in laboratories, there has been a notable shift towards dedicating resources to specific work streams and sub-streams, in the attempt to improve service levels. This is due in large part to a misapplication of the key Lean principle of developing ‘Value Streams’.