Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My First Time with Kaizen and Value Stream Mapping

I was recently looking through the documents and photos on some old laptops when I came across photos I had taken when I was just starting to read and learn about the Toyota Production System (TPS) or Lean.

I don't remember how I first learned about TPS, but I do remember that it hit me on such a deep, intuitive, "soul" level that I was instantly and forever transformed. Lean had me at, "Greater value for the customer, better use of resources, less waste and more respect for workers!"

First Kaizen

It always intrigued me that a single groomer could bath, dry, clip, pluck ears, trim nails, and brush out a dog by themselves. In our veterinary hospital, it seemed to require two vet assistants to handle these same dogs when it came to performing a complete annual examination including vaccinations, glaucoma check, a routine blood profile and Heartworm test.

Same pets, same employee skill.

The difference, it appeared to me, was the specialized grooming table with a grooming arm and its ability to restrain the pet with both a neck leash and a flank leash. Could the same table be used in our hospital to allow a single vet tech to work with a single dog, freeing the other tech to work on a different dog at the same time, thus doubling our flow and production?

I borrowed a table from the grooming salon adjacent to our hospital and we experimented.

Long story short, it worked most of the time. It didn't work for the very fear aggressive dogs (they still required two staff for safe restraint) or dogs too big to fit on the table, and, of course, cats didn't cooperate at all. But, the majority of our canine patients were less than 25 pound and friendly, and cats made up only about thirty percent of our practice. Any time savings got all of us finished earlier.

Experimenting with a grooming table for patient treatments

Maybe treatment tables should come equipped with a grooming arm!

The neck and flank leash in action. 

Based on this experiment, we were able to come up with a system to work single handedly with larger, good natured dogs.

I eventually attached rope cleats to the outside of the cage doors to make it easier to tie and release the leashes.

One staff could perform everything needed for our comprehensive annual exams including injections and blood draws.

First Value Stream Map

After working out the grooming table kaizen, we decided to map the Comprehensive Annual Drop-off value stream. Using ‘Post It’ notes would have made the process of optimization easier, but we used what we had available (this white board).

Most important is identifying all of the value producing steps, non-value producing steps and times for both.

I don't remember, but I think this was the current state map.

To create the future state map, steps were arranged to allow some to be performed in parallel rather than in series.

Lean is about doing. Start small. Start cheap. But, start! And, get your staff involved. Lean is about deeply understanding, learning and improving as an organization.

What kaizen could you experiment with? What value stream could you map and improve? Let me know and thanks for reading.