What Is Standard Work?

Standard work can include many elements such as the operator procedures, key steps, work locations, machine or technology used, production sequence, safety concerns, quality checks, and work locations. It also indicates the inventory location and quantity within the system. The standard work visual, also known as a standard layout, shows the operator’s movement range and product flow path. It includes information about the operation cycle time as well as the TAKT times for each product.

The standard work should be documented and presented in its entirety. It should also demonstrate the desired properties of any work performed. It is essential to document the standard work to keep the system repeatable and predictable. Non-documented systems are less likely than those that follow best practices.

What is Standardization?

Standardization is the process of creating rules that outline how employees should perform a set of tasks. It also creates a penalty for not complying. This practice reduces the risk of critical details being missed and eliminates ambiguity, waste, as well as safety hazards.

Standard Work Steps

Define or identify a standard

Identify areas in which best practices are not available or are inadequate.

Converge on the standard

Once you have defined the standard, share it with the team. It is important that everyone knows what the standard is and how it can improve processes. Everyone must also commit to the standard.

Verify that the standard is reasonable and that it is easy to follow

To determine if the standard is reasonable, fair, and feasible to follow, you should evaluate it. You may have to amend the standard to clarify or streamline certain tasks.

The 3 Elements of Standard Work

What are the elements of Standard Work?
What are the elements of Standard Work?

Standard Work consists of three elements that define the requirements to meet customer demand and create stability.

1- Work Sequence

The steps that operators must complete within TAKT time and in the correct order.

2- Standard inventory or in-process stock

Minimum number of parts and materials required to operate the process.

3- TAKT or PITCH Time

The rate at which services, products, or parts must be produced to meet customer demand.

This simple equation can be used to calculate takt time:

TAKT time = Net Available Time per day / Customer Demand per day

Benefits of Standard Work

Help your people

Sometimes operators believe that because their work is so varied, it cannot be standardized or that they will have to work in monotony if they are not standardized. It is the reverse: standardizing work increases efficiency and allows for more creative work.

Operators can also use standardized work to organize their work. This reduces stress and relieves operators from the pressure of incorrectly performing tasks.

Standardized work also makes it easier to train new employees, as it clearly documents how to do each process. This ensures that all new employees have the same information as other operators.

Improves Continuous Improvement

Kaizen is another LEAN principle. It’s the idea of continuous improvement. Kaizen is based on standard work. It is possible to objectively evaluate changes only when procedures are documented and standardized. As standards improve, is the new standard for Kaizen. This will allow for further improvements. It’s a never-ending process to improve standard work.

It is more difficult for operators to spot 8 Lean Manufacturing wastes when they perform different tasks. It is easier to identify opportunities for improvement when processes are consistent.

Variability is reduced

Standard work decreases variation in output by standardizing the most efficient ways to do processes. It is possible to predict the outcome of work: costs, quality, inventory requirements, and delivery times.

6 Steps to Achieve Standard Work

Step 1: Collect data about your current operations

Establishing your TAKT or PITCH time and work order is the first step. Consistently, metrics such as the cycle time and step times per operator are recorded. Companies have real-time visibility of their operations. This allows them to see exactly what tasks are being completed.

Step 2: Take note of variations and problems

There are often multiple ways to accomplish a task. However, only one uses information, resources-materials, and machines in the most efficient manner possible.

Look at the data that you have collected and note any variations. Do you see workers who do the same job but produce different results? Do some workers take longer than Takt? Can some tasks be combined? Are there safety or quality concerns?

Step 3: The most efficient way to manage your operations

You can use LEAN tools to optimize the flow of your work and improve your processes. You could use value stream mapping or poka-yoke to error-proof your processes. You want to find practical methods that are easy to use and useful for everyone.

Step 4: Everything should be documented

This can be done in many ways. They guide operators through the process step by step. Operators can follow work instructions according to current best practices. 

Step 5: Your training programs can be adapted

Employees must be able to understand and follow the new procedures. Re-training existing workers may be necessary. You also want to ensure that the new operator training programs you create are based on your existing work.

Step 6: Continuously improve the standard

A common mistake is to believe that once you have established standardized work, it is done. You should instead strive to improve the standard. It is much easier to spot abnormalities and problems once a standard work process has been established. Root-cause analysis is performed for each problem.

Standardized work is not always perfected or final. It is a best practice and should be challenged daily with Kaizen.

Three basic forms used in Standard Work

In creating standard work, three basic forms are used. These forms are used by managers, engineers, and supervisors on the front lines to design the process, and by operators to improve their jobs.

Standard work example – Process Capacity sheet

This form calculates the machine’s capacity in a linked set (often a single cell), to verify true capacity and identify and eliminate bottlenecks. This form calculates factors such as machine cycle times tool setup and change intervals. It also includes manual work times.

standard work example - Process Capacity Sheet
LEAN standard work example – process capacity sheet

LEAN standard work example – Standardized Work Combination Table

This form displays the total time taken by each operator to complete a particular production sequence. It also shows walk time and machine processing times. This form is more detailed and provides a better process design tool than operator balance charts. This table allows for the calculation of operator work content and the interaction between machines and operators in a process.

standard work example - Standard work table
LEAN standard work example – standard worktable

LEAN Standard work example – Standard Work Chart

This form displays operator movements and material locations in relation to the machine. It also shows the overall process layout. To ensure smooth operation, the form must show three elements that make up standard work: the current takt (and cycle) time for the job, the work sequence, and the required standard in-process inventory. As a visual tool for kaizen and visual management, standardized work charts are often displayed at workstations. They are constantly reviewed and updated in response to changes or improvements in the conditions of the worksite.

Standard work example - standard work layout sheet
LEAN standard work example – standard work layout sheet
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