Is my future Lean?

I have decided to take a punt and make a bit more out of my understanding of Lean.
 
It is time I take advantage of one of the things which makes me different from most other people, my ability to see waste!
 
I have been mulling this over for some time and feel that I need to make my future my own and a key part of that for me is learning more about Lean, learning more of the techniques, but fundamentally taking some of the principles that I take for granted and applying them to other businesses and organisations.
 
My ‘Lean’ epiphany occurred about three years ago whilst being introduced to the theory of constraints and reading The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt. However looking back I was already showing signs of what I now term Lean. Developing standard work, processing paper work as it arrived, trying to deliver what the customer wanted not just what my company wanted to produce.
 
From my current vantage point I can see that my first exposure to Lean was whilst working at McDonalds from 1997 -1999 as a student. Standard work, continuous improvement, continuous assessment, pull and ‘clean as you go’ are all very easy to see now, but at the time it was just how they did it.
 
I feel very strongly that this gave me an unconscious understanding of how work can be done and many of my colleagues have heard me utter the phrase, ‘at McDonalds they do it like this….’.
 
I am not an expert at applying the tools that have developed to allow the concept of Lean to be implemented. However I am very confident that I have a good grasp of Lean, the core values and the state of mind needed to help others understand it too.
 
The road to understanding the fundamentals of Lean is long and can be hard work, but when the moment comes and one gets it, it is quite amazing, the world changes in quite a significant way. (My journey took place over a total of 8-9 years if include my experience at McDonalds.)
 
This may all sound a bit over the top, but this is how it feels to me, and others that I have spoken to that have gone through the same learning experience.

East Midlands IMT comes to an end

Today is the end of the East Midlands Integrated Management Team delivering track renewals for Network Rail.
 
Back in April 2004 GrantRail took over the contract to deliver track renewals as part of Network Rail’s new IMT renewals strategy. GrantRail lost the contract to Jarvis back in September/October 2007.
This IMT has now come to an end with Jarvis relocating some of the staff from Derby, whilst others have been made redundant. The relocations have been to Doncaster and Peterborough.
It appears that Network Rail have endorsed this move as they are reorganising their people to reflect this new Jarvis structure.
 
One cannot help but wonder if Derby and the East Midlands are once again going to become the forgotten back waters of the UK rail network, with energy focused on the East and West Coast lines. (Plus the Great Western Electrification.)
 
The redundancies have added to the already significant numbers of railway staff out of work. However, with major projects about to start or ramping up in London, news of the Electrification of the Great Western Main Line and a few tram projects looking likely to get going soon, I am sure there will be an up turn in six to eight months.
I also wonder how Network Rail will be able to meet the commitments they have made for Control Period 4.
 
Control Period 4 Delivery Plan 2009
 
Is High Output and Modular S&C really going to deliver the benefits and cost savings they are expecting, I am very sceptical.

Clay Cross North installation by Derby IMT
Clay Cross North installation by Derby IMT

I can foresee that the demand for Platelayers, Technical and Management staff will rise dramatically when Network Rail realises it will have to use conventional methods to meet the renewal and improvement commitments it has signed up to.

Bedford South Junction, crossover installed by Derby IMT
Bedford South Junction, crossover installed by Derby IMT

How many of our key staff will have left for Australia, China, India, US or the Middle East by then. Rail investment is booming internationally and our experienced staff will be highly sought after. Does any of this have a sense of deja vu for anyone???

New track, same rain!

I thought I would post a little update on the state of progress on the Manchester Metrolink city centre track renewals.
Things have moved on a pace over the last couple of weeks with lots of pieces of separate track now being joined together. We have continuous track from Princess Street to Delta, Victoria to Dantzic Street, Shudehill Rd to Church Street, with work progressing around Market Street Station and round into the Delta.
The new surface finish (paving) is looking very posh, perhaps it will put some of the existing paving to shame.

Mosley Street looking from York Street
Mosley Street looking from York Street

Mosley Street
Mosley Street

High Street
High Street

The job is suffering from the odd hitch, such as a run of failed welds which has led to a some rework.
Work has finally started to move on at Shudehill, there have been a few hitches, but things should now be starting to progress with the Inbound due to be fit to run trams by the end of August. Time is tight but with a bit of effort this should be possible.
Existing concrete broken out of Shudehill Station
Existing concrete broken out of Shudehill Station

It has also rained a lot, and I mean a lot. Not a day seems to go by without the heavens opening and pouring down on Manchester.

Return from Romania

I have just got back from a week in Romania, I had a great time and it is a beautiful country.
It is amazing how ones preconceived ideas are so governed by what we see on TV. Romania has moved on a long way from the images of orphanages that were on our screens 10-15 years ago. It feels like a thoroughly modern country looking to play its part in Europe.
The country is rammed full of history with Transylvania seeming to have a castle or church on every hill. Unfortunately Dracula was not at home when we visited Bran Castle, although it is an amazing place to have a look around.

Bran Castle, the alleged home of Dracula
Bran Castle, the alleged home of Dracula

Sighisoara is the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, so called because he was partial to having his enemies impaled on stakes and then put on display. He sounds like a particularly pleasant chap, and is supposed to be the chap who inspired the character of Dracula for Bram Stoker’s stories.
Sighisoara
Sighisoara

Brasov from the top of the cable car
Brasov from the top of the cable car

One of the most surprising places we visited were the salt mines near Praid. The journey down was via a ‘Bendy Bus’ and a walk through a steeply inclined shaft. The door then opened out into a huge open cavern.
Salt Mines
Salt Mines

The caverns were huge and interlinked, it is alleged that the air down there has medicinal qualities and the locals spend the whole day down there playing games and there is even a functioning chapel. All very strange but very interesting.
Targu Mures central station at rush hour!
Targu Mures central station at rush hour!

Targu Mures station is not what one could call the busiest in the World. The single line through the town looks decidedly tired. The gauge here is 1520mm, for those that are interested.
Palace of Culture, Tagur Mures
Palace of Culture, Tagur Mures

Targu Mures was the base for our trip in Transylvania. This is a medium sized town with a pleasant town centre and all the stuff one would need in a modern city.

What should I discuss first when introducing people to Lean?

I have just started doing a bit of an explanation of Lean with some colleagues and I am wondering what the first things to explain about Lean.
I started with an little about the history of Lean then went on to explain a little about the two pillars of Lean.
Respect for People and Continuous Improvement.
I am wondering what I should address at the next session?
 
Should I explain about customer value/expectations, or should I talk about waste? Or is there a more important topic to cover first?
I am trying to keep my little talks down to 10-15min sections at the end of a weekly team meeting and think that introducing it in small sections, with some examples from our everyday office environment will help to raise awareness amongst the team if nothing else.
Any feedback/ideas would be much appreciated.

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!