Iwill get back to the series on defining the pace or rhythm of your shop next month. Let’s focus on the importance
of fixing something that likely bugs
your staff. The article this month is
complements of Brad Cairns. Brad is
the senior principle at The Center for
Lean Learning. You can contact him
at email@example.com or directly
at 519-494-2883. It is ironic that Brad
submitted this article when he did. I
am working with the leadership team
at Distinctive Custom Cabinetry and we
were discussing this very issue.
If you are a leader at your company,
don’t let issues like this go unresolved
in your internal customer/supplier
chain. Everyone must be focused on
one common objective: Deliver a quality product to the external customer on
time, every time.
From the Trenches
by Brad Cairns
At some point, we’ve all either felt the
pain or are feeling the pain of this all-too-important document - your cutlist.
Now whether your cutlists are generated by a sophisticated program like
Cabinet Vision, or you have formulated
an Excel spreadsheet, or by simply
making your cutlists by hand, this
article will help improve the process.
There is no right or wrong way to do
this. It is the output from the cutlist
that is critical.
Getting it right
On the surface, the output of the
cutlist might not seem like a big deal.
After all, someone on the shop floor
will figure out how to make it right. If
that is your perception, visualize this
scenario. You purchase something at
a retail store, get home, open the box,
and discover it’s not what you were
expecting. What is your response? The
majority of us would, with no hesitation, take it back and demand it be
replaced. So, why then do we not hold
our internal suppliers to the same
I have a few theories on this, which I
will share with you.
1. The person doing the engineering is
viewed as unapproachable by the person doing the actual work. So, it might
be perceived, or might really happen,
that the person creating the cutlist will
ignore the internal customer’s request.
2. The person creating the cutlist
might not have originated the process.
In that case, he doesn’t have the time
or skills to fix it. Meanwhile, something
else could be changed in the formulation that creates a worse scenario.
3. You’re too busy, so let the people on
the shop floor deal with it.
The issue with number one is
simple. You are an engineer. Your function exists solely to support the Gemba
(where the work is actually happening).
Anything short of perfection from you
creates unnecessary work for the rest of
the company. Imagine how you would
feel going in for that much needed hip
replacement you have been waiting for,
only to be on the operating table and
the doctor finds out the parts they had
for you were not quite right, but they
will try to figure out how to make them
work. OMG, none of us would accept
that, and we would likely be furious
with the hospital that tried to give us a
hip that only kinda, sorta fit.
Numbers Two and Three are almost
cut from the same cloth. There is little
by Jim Lewis
firstname.lastname@example.org LEAN JOURNEYS
Fix what bugs you
Even a small error in a cutlist can add up to big costs in time and money if not caught early.
✚ Want more? Read archived Jim Lewis columns at
Jim Lewis has worked in the furniture industry for 40 years
with a special emphasis on facilitating the transformation
process for businesses embracing the Lean Business Model.
He founded The Center for Lean Learning, which is now
headquartered in St. Thomas, ON, Canada, and led by
Brad Cairns. Lewis is still active as a consultant for the firm.