Visuality at J&J’s PSGA Manati

Jan. 19, 2006
Operations Excellence Leader and Master Black Belt Giselle Rodriguez describes how Visual methods are helping her site and its teams on their journey to operational excellence.
Through its Process Excellence program, Johnson & Johnson established a foundation for operational excellence, globally and throughout the corporation, with roots in Visuality and Lean principles. Each site implements its own strategy, based on unique plant needs, using 5S, error proofing, and OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) concepts, as well as Lean and Six Sigma methodologies. We began our Lean program at Manatí in 1999; like other J&J facilities, our goal is to get as close as we can to true “pull” manufacturing.On the floor, we typically implement 5S (Box, below) first, because the process makes it so much easier to highlight other problems. We start these initiatives from back to front, beginning with packaging lines, then working through manufacturing. Now that we have implemented 5S at our manufacturing facilities, we’re rolling it out at our laboratories. Once this process is complete, we’ll go on to Value Stream Mapping (VSM). But the first, essential step is getting everyone excited about establishing a Visual workplace through 5S.

5S 101

5S has typically been translated from Japanese as: Sort (Seiri), Set in order (Seiton), Shine (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu) and Sustain (Shitsuke). A more helpful definition might be:
  • S1: Sort Through/Get rid of the junk

  • S2: Shine/Make it clean (and look for ways to prevent dirt)

  • S3: Secure Safety/Make it safe (and look for ways to prevent risk).

  • S4: Select Locations/ Implement smart placement based on an accelerated flow.

  • S5: Set locations/Install automatic recoil — the Visual "where" — through borders, home addresses and ID labels.
The key to succeeding with 5S and Visual principles is realizing that they cannot be implemented everywhere, or overnight. It’s critical to determine how much can be done without interrupting the normal work flow, so the first step is defining what’s important for the business and identifying the critical work centers that would benefit most from the efforts. It’s best to move slowly, with one or two projects. People involved in these projects will create an atmosphere of change and excitement that is contagious and will quickly spread throughout the organization.It took roughly three years to develop an overall Visual and Lean strategy at Manati. It’s important to realize that, in order to succeed, leadership and training are required, and training will have to cover all aspects of the program, from forming teams to developing checklists and a format for recording training, all of which take time.Implementation also takes time and resources. Any 5S program will require funding for overtime, and managers have to learn to be quiet and truly listen to operations staff. They can’t simply dictate or impose what they want done. Picking the right battles is critical. If I want green and the operations staff wants yellow, I’ll usually let them have yellow. Consistency is key.At J&J, we’ve built a culture where we insist that people not simply accept something “because I say so.” If I come up with a suggestion and anyone on the floor disagrees, they have to explain why. And I have to listen. If they make their point coherently, I have to admit when they’re right.Patience the keyThe full impact of 5S isn’t always visible immediately, which may be why some companies have resisted it, or abandoned their efforts mid-stream. But given time, 5S changes the entire tone of the workplace so that people just feel better about coming to work.Starting with the first S, “Set in Order,” is best. The work area will look better and be easier to clean. It also strengthens the impression of compliance, conveying a message that the workforce has control over its area. Other issues then begin to fall into place.For 5S, we let employees come up with their own ideas. They worked on Saturdays to do this, buying the materials and building the solutions themselves. In one case, spare parts had been stored in a common cabinet, so that operators or mechanics had to search, drawer by drawer and part by part, for what they needed. Now there’s a box containing all the change parts, and each part is placed on its own “form,” molded to conform to the exact shape of that part, in its own labeled drawer.With the forms, if the part’s missing, it’s obvious right away, while the wrong tool won’t fit in the wrong mold. Also, instead of putting tools “straight” into these forms, they’ve been placed at a 20- to 30-degree angle so that they can be removed easily. These steps may not sound like much, individually, but they add up to significant time savings.IntegrationOf course, as the Visual work progresses, and 5S and other Visual programs are integrated with Lean, DMAIC and OEE, hard data will allow success to be monitored. Output will also increase, as unnecessary motion around work areas is minimized. But even before that, positive change is usually seen in workers’ faces, which are more relaxed and reflect a less stressful work environment. We implemented OEE first, then 5S, but other sequences are possible; in some cases, both can be done together.We’ve developed a training module for everyone involved in our 5S programs, including a radar chart that measures each person’s success. People monitor themselves, and the entire team knows that its members are continuously reporting results.Once a 5S program is well established for a specific line undergoing Lean, we move on to VSM, to identify opportunities for improvement. A cross-functional group of stakeholders examines the process and identifies opportunities for improvement, which are written down and placed in a “job jar.” They are then prioritized using a matrix that ranks suggestions based on their potential impact and how easy they are to implement.A recent job was to develop visuals for Lean. We developed schedule boards to track projects and installed them at different lines so that operators could provide input. We left the board there for one week, gathered comments, then analyzed them based on 5S, VSM and Visual Factory methods. Now, for any project, we have a storyboard that keeps everyone up-to-date on progress.Once we’ve prioritized changes and “action items,” we go back a second time and validate the top-ranking initiatives to ensure we’ve selected the right ones. At this point, we make assignments and allocate resources. Some projects are engineering projects, while others are normal improvement projects and assigned to certified Belts or candidates for certification.Kaizen teams start the processWe use Kaizen teams on all critical lines, particularly those that make high-volume products. Typically, they create the teams that start the 5S process. Members stay on the same Kaizen teams for three months to one year, then move on, which is critical to sharpening their skills. These teams attend to the day to day, and provide feedback on OEE, develop Paretos and evaluate changeover, quality and downtime issues. We have a weekly one-hour meeting to address issues. If a problem has a quick fix, we go ahead and make it.We audit the teams to ensure that they’re following guidelines and to ensure consistency. Kaizen leaders report to cross-functional Performance Evaluation Teams (PET) at regular meetings. The PET team assesses progress and provides input, allowing us to capture gains and recognize team members.Our top priority is always empowering people. All operators have the opportunity to be certified for Lean. If they wish to be certified, we pick a test project and assign it to them, then monitor progress monthly. An experienced coach guides the candidate through implementation. Each month, the novice Lean practitioner makes a presentation to staff and managers, and both groups give opinions as to whether goals were met. At the end of the project, if goals are met, that person is certified, and then eligible to pursue a Green or Black Belt.Staff were recently surveyed on training needs, and some felt that they needed to polish their English skills, so we hired English coaches for them. Others want training in Excel and Powerpoint to improve their presentation skills.When I cannot attend a PET meeting, I’ll hear about it later from operators. “Why were you absent?” they may ask, or “This is what we covered and here’s what we need from you.” This is exactly the kind of empowered culture that we want to create, and Visual methods have helped us reach this point.
J&J’s staff at Manati are implementing 5S, OEE and Kaizen approaches, with great success.

About the Author

Giselle Rodriguez | Operations Excellence Leader and Master Black Belt