What can happen when the audience doesn’t get the message!

This is something that a colleague passed to me a while back. It was following a Lean training day and we had tried to use the Sticklebrick Game to show some of the fundamental concepts of Lean.
He had seen the training day as a team building event, well OK that was a factor but we had failed to get over the key message of understanding the needs of the customer, working at the pace of demand and organising your business to achieve this.
I was quite disappointed that we had failed to get this across, but with my Lean goggles I could see that we needed to learn from this and make the game more applicable to their experiences. Every set back is an opportunity to change and improve.
Click on the article to view it.

When attendees miss the point!
When attendees miss the point!

How can the Rail Industry apply Lean techniques to improve performance?

One of my keen interests is to understand how the Rail Industry can apply Lean techniques and ideas?

Below I have listed out some of the obvious wastes that exist in the maintenance and renewal sectors of the industry:
 

Spare materials on and about the track,
Inflated costs due to the ‘specialist nature’ of the work and equipment,
Extremely long design processes,
Consistently late design approvals for what should be standard work.

 
These are some of the obvious ones, however, looking from a Lean perspective there are many more and some very fundamental wastes which are more worrying.
Issues such as:
 

Constantly changing workforce, low skill base and low morale,
Lack of standard work across the industry, everyone has their own way,
Very uneven work loads leading to excessive labour pools,
Systems based on empirical evidence rather than hard scientific evidence.

 
I would like to start a debate about how the industry can adopt and implement the principles of Lean. How can an industry as diverse as ours look to ensure we respect our people and look to improve what we do?
 
Do we understand what the future looks like? Can we move forward with confidence when there is a lack of certainty about what that future is?
 
Please make comment by leaving a reply below. I hope that we can get some good ideas floating around and help improve the performance of the industry, even in just a small way.
 
Steve J

Progress in the sun in Manchester

The sun has been shining and progress has been made.
The last couple of weeks in Manchester have seen quite a lot of progress across the city. Some areas are now paved and new areas of work have been opened up.
It looks as though the hard work of everyone involved is starting to come together.
The photo below show the latest area to start being ripped out, the worksite has extended into Piccadilly Gardens on the Delta.

The old track on the Delta comes up.
The old track on the Delta comes up.

In other areas the rails are in and the new street finish is going down. This is looking very good and hopefully will get the approval from the city residents. How long will it remain free from chewing gum though!
The very expensive looking street finish in centre of Manchester.
The very expensive looking street finish in centre of Manchester.

A slightly different finish at Mosley St Station.
A slightly different finish at Mosley St Station.

We also get the very occasional opportunity to enjoy the lighter aspects of working in a vibrant city centre like Manchester. Here is Dave (Shammy) one of our key guys enjoying a moment with the girls from the Co-op. They have just opened a new store on the High Street directly opposite one of our worksites.
Are those Lepricorns Shammy?
Are those Lepricorns Shammy?

New point work takes shape at Mosley Street Stop

Work at Mosley Street Station has restarted after a week or so of seeming inactivity.
New point work is being welded in preparation for installation and the track in the station is getting its new very attractive paving.
A new area of Piccadilly Gardens has also been fenced off and the old track is being ripped out.

New pointwork at Mosley Street Station
New pointwork at Mosley Street Station

New diamond for Delta Junction
New diamond for Delta Junction

As you can see from the photos, it rains quite a lot in Manchester!

Steven Johnson Rail Engineering Services Ltd is formed!

Yes I have taken the plunge SJRES Ltd has been formed.
So I am now officially a Director, yes I know it is not Microsoft or anything, but from small acorns…. and all that.
Still a few things to sort out, business account, VAT registrations but it is all under way.

SJRES Ltd Certificate of Incorporation
SJRES Ltd Certificate of Incorporation

I am still working three days a week up in Manchester, which suits me brilliantly. So perhaps I will not end up owning the biggest company in the world, but I prefer this to being an employee. For the moment anyway.

The Railway of Ethiopia

Back in November of last year Nadine and I visited her parents who were working in Addis Ababa.
We spent just over a week with them travelling around parts of the country. On one of the mad journeys around Addis we decided to have a look at the train station.
(The images files are large so if you have a slow connection they may take a while to load, sorry, but feel free to print or use as you like.)

The facade of Addis Ababa Station
The facade of Addis Ababa Station

There is only one station in Addis, there is only really one line in Ethiopia, and that is the line to Djibouti.
The station has not seen a train service in many years and looks abandoned, however as we approached the building a man comes out to say hello and ask us what we are doing. We ask if we can have a look around and to our surprise he seems only too keen to give us a tour.
So we go through the main building and out on to the platform.
The abandonded platform
The abandonded platform

Looking along the platform towards the museum
Looking along the platform towards the museum

It is clean and tidy and it is this chaps job to make sure the place is kept looking respectable. After standing on the platform for a few minutes thinking ‘well that was interesting’ he beckons us to follow him down the track towards some buildings.
Some point work for the spotters!
Some point work for the spotters!

I am a very untrusting sort and thought this looked a little dodgy, but the wife and in laws, who are a bit more used to this sort of thing, set off after him.
As we are walking he says he wants to show us the imperial carriages, which are in a museum at the end of the sidings.
Sure enough, there is a little museum, all locked up, with four carriages in it. They do look quite grand compared to their surroundings but I don’t think they have turned a wheel for a very long time.
The Rail Way Museum and the Imperial Carriges
The Rail Way Museum and the Imperial Carriges

He then shows us some other rather old vehicles that are slowly rotting away in the yard before heading back to the station building.
Never complain about a Pacer again!
Never complain about a Pacer again!

He tells us that there are plans afoot to get the line back into use to reconnect Addis with Djibouti, but that may take a while to sort out, in the mean time he just looks after the abandoned station and gets a few Birr or Dollars of any tourists who are interested.
The age of steam lives on (kinda)
The age of steam lives on (kinda)

A rather old section of rail, I'm sure the underground can beat this though?
A rather old section of rail, I'm sure the underground can beat this though?

Lots of track, no trains!
Lots of track, no trains!

Wagons with no where to go
Wagons with no where to go

This little visit was one of those completely unexpected delights of our trip to Ethiopia, yes I am a fan of railways, but the history of why the station was built, why it is no longer in use and the fact it connects two countries who are effectively now at war made this quite a special afternoon in Addis Ababa.