Lean-production (LP) methodology is increasingly being used worldwide. Shop-floor work organization is a central aspect of analysing lean practices and supporting their implementation. This concept must first be precisely defined. The words “team” and “lean” have a range of very different meanings. We must define what we mean by teams in sociological systems, lean work in a broad sense and work organization for lean production. Work-organization practices appropriate for manufacturing or other activities that completely follow lean principles are known as work organization for lean production. Major studies of Toyota Production Systems and LP have set out the general principles to be followed by all areas of the company. Flow and kaizen summarize these principles, and both depend on how work is done on the shop floor. In spite of this, detailed work-organization practices are not described in the LP literature. Even though these practices do not define LP, more knowledge about them is required. Some aspects can vary from one case to another and over time, while others appear repeatedly in LP factories. In this paper, we analyse the literature. Based on this analysis, we
propose seven policies and practices that define lean shop-floor work: standardization and control; training and learning; participation and empowerment; teamwork; multi-skilling and adaptability; common values; and compensation and prizes. Policies and practices that support lean implementation are deduced. We define a set of indicators to evaluate whether these policies and practices are applied in real cases and with what intensity.
We consulted experts throughout the field about the indicators and their relation to LP. This study is part of a project aimed at obtaining tools to help companies with the work-organization aspects of LP implementation.
The next steps will be to analyse real practices in various factories and study alternative methods and trends.
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