Ergonomics done right.®
January 11th, 2010

Lean Leaders Still Omit Mention of Ergonomics


Contributed by Kevin Perdeaux, AEP

 The Leonardo Group Americas is respected globally as
a leader in assisting clients implement advanced lean manufacturing methods.
They recently offered an online webinar titled "10 Secrets of a Lean
Culture" which focused on sharing the primary tools necessary for a
successful lean system. These tools included tactics such as: designating a
lean specialist, kaizen events, six sigma, standardized work, 5S visual
workplace control, employee suggestion program and value stream mapping. As was
expected, references were made to Toyota's creation and mastery of lean
systems. Interestingly, the webinar talked to one of the secrets of lean being
to designate specialists in Kaizen, whose sole responsibility is to support
other individuals in the organization and to ensure continuous improvement
projects are successful. This is contrary to what most companies would do;
eliminate those 'support' roles during poor economic times.

But what about ergonomics? Not once
in the webinar was there emphasis of perhaps the biggest lean secret of all,
your people and how they move. “The Toyota Production System organizes all jobs
around human motion and creates an efficient production sequence without any
Muda.” – Toyota Motors Manufacturing Web Site. With TPS, one needs to optimize
human capital; how the person affects the process. “At our factory, we start
our kaizen efforts by looking at the way our people do their work.” – Taiichi
Ohno, quoted in Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success (Imai, 1986).

I'd be interested to hear of any
corporation's lean culture (other than Toyota) that initiated with the
intention to enhance their workforce's performance capabilities ahead of
production and quality.