5S Outside The Factory: Learning To Organize Your Life

There’s the famous saying that goes a little something like: “If you want to have a happy life, you’re best to leave your work at work.” While that may remain true for most right-minded individuals, the reality of the situation at hand is that it’s not always possible. Some people work irregular hours, forcing them to conflict personal time with their hectic work life. Others may find themselves in a different situation entirely: working from home to best combat the harsh reality of two full-time working parents. Regardless of what the situation at hand may be, it helps to have access to a workplace that feels comfortable and inviting. By inserting yourself an environment that feels homey, you’re inherently easing the natural tension that comes with the territory of a typical workplace.

The idea of creating a “natural” workplace seems to be a rather vague goal; after all, what exactly goes into making a workplace feel “natural” anyways? A good place to start is by keeping your office tidy and organized. As a company that manufactures a variety of dry erase boards that can help you better organize your workplace, we like to think we have a pretty good idea as to what works when it comes to the ins and outs of organizing your office. That’s why we’ve put together a list of six tips for cleaning your workspace using the 6S methods our customers live by.

Seiri (Sorting)

The first step of any cleaning initiative should involve eliminating clutter from the designated area. The same can be said for the manufacturing industry as well; if your shop floor has a collection of unused machinery or unused shelf space, you’d want to get rid of it, wouldn’t you? So go ahead and pick up the stack of papers that have been sitting in the corner of your desk for the past six months, they are only adding to the problem.

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How To Crush The Language Barrier Between Departments In Your Organization

Every industry develops its own set of words and phrases. Whether you’re a lawyer, production manager, executive, accountant, or engineer, you’ll encounter catchphrases and trade names on a daily—if not hourly—basis. Frequently used as a method to help us communicate complex or multifaceted items quickly and efficiently, industry slang is a great device for the sake of simplicity in the workplace. The thing about industry-specific terms and phrases is that they carry an enormous amount weight for people familiar with the trade. The only downside is: they’re not universally understood.

How many times have you found yourself in a meeting and heard one of these phrases and felt slightly embarrassed for of asking what that stood for? It’s not necessarily words that trip us up, but the thought process and industry specificity of them that ultimately trips us up. In cases like these, a lack of base-level communication creates anxiety among professionals and can even lead to frustration at times. Imagine how much more productive you would be if you could bridge this communication gap. Well, some companies are setting out to do just that.

We recently caught up with Henry Jacobson, Product Manager of Pulsafeeder, to inquire about the difficulties he faces when aligning the sales, marketing, and engineering departments that work as a collective. Pulsafeeder is one of the few manufacturers that specialize in highly engineered chemical injection pumps—think chemical processing plants or wastewater treatment centers. Part of Henry’s responsibilities as a Product Manager is to strategize a roadmap for Pulsafeeder’s products, defining their purpose and position in the marketplace; this requires a constant need for simultaneous collaboration between members of every department in their organization. When speaking to us in regards to his duties as a Product Manager, Henry also made note of the distinct language barrier that can be found between different departments of a company.

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Why Allocating Time To Think Is The Right Move For Your Lean Program

A crucial part of running a successful business is your organization’s willingness to grow. In recent years, a variety of industries have turned to the likes of Lean Six Sigma in an effort to strengthen and develop their organizational culture. By keying in on the coveted methodology that relies heavily upon the principals of continuous improvement and strong leadership, many leaders envision breaking away from their lackluster performance goals in favor of achieving significant results. Unfortunately, over 80% of all lean startups—regardless of industry—end with a failure.

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing” Denis Waitley   

I’ve seen some people in the lean community reference the quote above, specifically when discussing a lean journey that’s gone south. The point to be made is that even in points of failure, there is something to be gained. The only way to truly fail at something is by making an active effort to avoid searching for answers.

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4 Lessons For The Lean Thinker: As Told By Jedi Master Yoda

Today is the fourth of May, or a day better known by Star Wars Fans as May the fourth… Say the date out loud and you will quickly catch on to the pun that sparked a worldwide phenomenon a long time ago. Every year millions of individuals around the world gather to take part in a daylong event celebrating everything Star Wars. As 24-hour movie marathons and celebration parades set to take place throughout the day, we figured we could join in on this year’s celebration by taking a few pointers from master Yoda himself.

Yoda has shared some great anecdotes throughout the history of the saga, many of which, can be applied directly to the lean manufacturing process. So we took some of the character’s most famous quotes and analyzed them through the perspective of a lean thinker. Along with the help of one of the industry’s leading thought provokers about lean, Mark Graban, we’re happy to present a list of four prophetic Star Wars quotes that can help guide lean thinkers on their quest to find True North.

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What you Need To Know About Your Lean & Agile Manufacturing Efforts

The demand from consumers for new products with customized options has never been greater. As a result, the manufacturing marketplace has become extremely volatile, with new technologies and methods arising every year. Over the past decade, many manufacturing managers have adopted a Lean process as the standardized method for organizing their factory workflows.

What originally started in the world of software development as a way to keep up with ever-changing customer needs and irregular product development cycles, Agile manufacturing has recently become a go to method for product design and development processing. The topical debate between Agile and Lean production methods has taken on a greater importance to North American manufacturers, as many industry experts have been begging the question of whether or not Agile production methods can truly be seen as an evolutionary step forward for production processing.

It is easy to understand why the agile manufacturing process may be appealing to some companies: it gives you an advantage when dealing with customer requirements, while giving you a competitive edge in an ever-evolving marketplace. Continue reading What you Need To Know About Your Lean & Agile Manufacturing Efforts

11 People Tweeting About Lean That You Need To Follow

We’re big believers in the concept of lean manufacturing and so our many of our customers. As a result, we are always looking for the best and brightest insights in the ever-changing world of lean.

Since part of our job requires us to be up-to-date on the latest trends and thoughts within the manufacturing industry, we know there is a wealth of knowledge floating all around the Internet. So rather than hoarding all that knowledge for ourselves, we thought we’d share it with you! Here are some of the top minds in the lean industry that you should be following:

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Visual Management, Safety and the 6S Facility

The following post was contributed by Greg Hernandez, the Marketing Manager at R.W. Lyall

At Lyall, we’ve been manufacturing and engineering natural gas piping components for over 45 years—a span of time that often piques the curiosity of startup leaders I run into from day to day. Many of them assume there must be some great secret to how, in such a historically volatile market, we’ve been able to not only stick around but grow from one to three manufacturing facilities, all across the U.S., and all filled with happy, long-time employees.

The truth is, it’s not much of a secret at all. It’s just plain old lean manufacturing practices. One of the most valuable of the lean manufacturing elements at Lyall has also been one of the most well-known—“6S”. This practice is based on a lean philosophy called “5S,” which represents five Japanese words relating to discipline, cleanliness and order in the factory environment. In a sense, 6S is just like 5S, only with the concept of safety added in and brought front and center. And, while 6S is just one among many lean manufacturing components, it’s certainly been the cornerstone of Lyall’s lean production system.

For those as curious about the lean journey as my startup friends, here’s a quick overview of how the main components of the 6S facility— Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain and Safety—fit into the bigger picture we call a “6S facility.”

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Introducing A New ‘Spin’ On The Whiteboard

We’re happy to announce a new variation on our popular line of dry erase products. The new five-sided RotoCube® is designed to move information off of traditional wall mounted whiteboards and bulletin boards, and into the traffic stream where it can command attention. RotoCubes rotate silently with a finger touch in either direction to display information on five sides, totaling up to 32 feet of display space, which is equivalent to a 4’x8’ hanging board.

“Whiteboards and bulletin boards provide instantly accessible news and information and are most effective when displayed in high traffic areas where people gather, pass by, meet, and relax. Unfortunately, these areas often lack specific wall space to display a board where it will be the most useful”, says Christian Krapf, Managing Partner of Magnatag Visible Systems. “RotoCube’s 32 square feet of whiteboard and bulletin board space and its small footprint positions information where it is most likely to get people’s attention so they will stop and read it. The unique design lets several people view it at once without crowding the area.”

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Every Lean Enthusiast Needs To Know These 5 Blogs


The Internet is clouded with hundreds of websites that cover the lean manufacturing beat, and with plenty of stories being published every day, it can sometimes seem overwhelming to keep up with the latest lean practices and findings. If you’re familiar with the Magnatag Insight Blog, it is likely you’ve read some of my own findings regarding the lean process; but my findings are not, and should never be, interpreted as the absolute truth. So much of the lean process revolves around finding what works best for you, so I think it is important to develop an eclectic understanding of how lean can work for you.

That’s why I’ve put together a list of 5 websites every lean enthusiast should follow:

  1. Mark Graban’s Leanblog.org

Mark Graban is widely considered to be one of the leading thought provokers in the lean industry. While Mark’s blog specifically focuses on implementing lean in the confines of a healthcare facility, his lessons can easily be repurposed for any lean process. The Lean Blog also features a variety of guest bloggers from the industry, providing diversified coverage across the board. The great part about this blog is that it not only covers lean through the use of the written medium, but Mark also hosts a weekly podcast in addition to curating videos that cover different components of lean.

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How Critical Component Trackers Can Help Your Factory

If you’re a factory manager that finds yourself struggling to maintain a balance in your workday, I am sure you’d be hesitant to refer to the manufacturing industry as a calming practice. With orders to be processed and packages to be shipped, it should come as no surprise that factory managers (just like yourself) are always juggling more than one project at a time. Now add the post-holiday surge to the equation, and you have created a scenario that can make even the most temper-minded individuals go a little crazy.

Demand volatility like this can often times impact factory productivity, leading to tight lead-times for critical factory components. These issues are unavoidable in the manufacturing industry. So rather than be blindsided when irregular demands occur, wouldn’t you want to find a way to keep your workers informed?

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