IF you have time to LEAN you have time to CLEAN !

As a new employee at Mc Donald's you are quickly taught and advised to never be idle and if you do find a gap in time you better start cleaning.


Many Lean Practitioners, ourselves included replicate and implement methodologies used extensively by Toyota.





In essence the spirit of the Toyota Production System is source and assemble parts into a completed vehicle at a high velocity by identifying and eliminating any and all wastes during the process. Toyota is also extremely loyal to their employees and embrace them as lifetime stakeholders … but not so in many other organizations.


The fact is that at Toyota manufacturing is actually pretty simple … much like other car assembly plants. You have a line that runs at a fixed speed and each station has been loaded with a prescribed amount of work. There is typically minimal variability and the variability can be easily absorbed with the production schedule, for example the mix of 2 and 4 door models going down the same line.


In essence the Toyota Production System is all about continuous flow and all methodologies support this process … and the key enabler and measure is material conveyance refresh capability. 5S is there to support increased velocity of material conveyance along with most of the other tools Lean Practitioners love to teach … but if you focus on improving material conveyance first the other tools will naturally make sense.


The guiding philosophy of TPS is the attribute of Jidoka where team members are empowered to stop the line if they detect a problem … which is communicated typically through an Andon system or an Andon Board.


OK … so Toyota is a very successful organization and has been the creator of many Lean Methodologies but let us look at another great Lean Organization people seldom speak about … Mc Donald’s.


As a process junkie no matter where we go I (actually Mariela and I) love to observe process and more often have a great discussion about it later.


Now Mc Donald’s also highly respects their people but the economic pressures have forced the organization to not be able to pay relatively high wages … so in essence they have a high turnover rate.


So as an organization how do you respond ?? You accept what has been given to you and you start to Lean out your Processes.


It does not matter where you decide to observe process at Mc Donald’s … you will be able to easily see many Lean methodologies being used.


First, I need to acknowledge that Mc Donald’s is more about being a job shop with minimal customization capability. Try ordering a slight deviation from the menu and you will quickly see the process go awry. … why ???


Because of traditional high turnover McDonald’s has experienced they have spent years engineering every process done great work break-down analysis and then error proofed it with bells, chimes and lights.


The engineering has even crept into the supply chain significantly. French Fries for example the fries are specifically cut to an exact shape and then a very specific amount (weight) is placed into a plastic bag. Once they arrive at a restaurant anyone that knows how to open a bag just places them in deep fry basket … drops it into the oil, presses the timer … and waits …


No time to lean but time to clean even for a few minutes. Sanitation and cleanliness are paramount in the food business and especially important in restaurants. Typically most people attend Mc Donald’s with the comfort in knowing that it will be clean … not necessarily for the food …


Once the timer beeps … the operator removes the fries and dumps them into the serving tray where they are salted and ready to be packaged.


So great examples of work breakdown analysis so that anyone can complete a simple task. Application of 6 Sigma to reduce and control variability within a process and then error proofed … capped with a good dose of 5S.


But in order for the process to be successful and repeatable the process had to be initially very well engineered with exacting standards.


Now at Mc Donald’s we do not have consistent predictable volume or continuous flow so flexibility had to be integrated within the kitchen .. So once again the kitchen has several work flows happening using different andon systems, colour coding to control the process.

But still there can be potential downtime to Lean on equipment so in essence Mc Donald’s uses “T-Cards” or Kamishibai providing team members mini assignments that need to completed on a daily or weekly or monthly basis.


Personally I enjoy incorporating the Kamishibai cards into my daily 5 minute 5S repertoire.

Because if you have time to Lean you have time to clean !!

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