Process optimization – Lean hospitals

We advice how to optimize processes by using simple and cheap methods originating from KAIZEN philosophy – continuous improvement. It is worth to engage staff in process improvement and constitute corporate vision of management. Each employee can contribute to company success and feel appreciated by his or her leadership. Kaizen is composed of actions relying on small systematic changes without effectuating company with any various upheavals. Instead of confusion we have improvement giving its enormous results in companys annual report. We indicate how to speak, support staffs ideas, motivate and form perfect lean organizational culture.

A way to optimize your workspace

Space optimization in gemba in other words the place of process execution. We offer you analysis of workspace based on direct observation, measurements and value stream mapping, on the basis of which it will be possible to reorganize jobs to reduce labour costs or even bring out an additional workspace.

Results (depending on work place)

  • reduction of distances covered by employees of about 20% which translates directly into better productivity
  • increase the work space up to 30% and make space for new investment like machines or to extend the production
  • improving ergonomics of a work place
  • build up employees satisfaction

Analysis time depends on the size/number of rooms and complexity of the process.

In every company both production and service work are based on processes and every department of the company or organizational unit performs many actions that consist processes. Process is a set of actions logically related to each other, whose input elements (raw materials, resources, human resources) are converted into output elements (final product, service). It is possible to distinguish between main, auxiliary, operational, internal and external processes (outsorcing).  The process is a “chain of events that follows each other in time and constitute phases and stages ” [Petrozolin-Skowrońska 1998]. The process is a course of changes that are related to one another in the right order [Sobol 1999], it is also the course of circumstances, which regularly follow each other. [Sobol 2002]. Main processes are those that bring the greatest revenue for company without which an organization couldn’t exist, auxiliary processes are intended to support main processes. The main and auxiliary processes mutually interleave, their distinction (identification) facilitates the understanding of the creation of a value stream and allows for the improvement of the main processes (optimization). Optimization is perfecting and improvement in the functioning of the company through the use of effective and well-known and proven methods of continuous quality improvement. It is the determination of the optimal solution among these available with consideration of criteria such as quality, cost and time. The purpose of optimization is rationalization of  production or service process that uses a set of management actions that affect the financial performance of the entire organization. According to the Dictionary of Foreign Words [Sobol 1999], pptimization is to get the best results in a particular field, it is also the search for the best solution (By cost) based on mathematical methods and according to the Dictionary of Polish Language [Sobol 2002] optimal means the most favorable, most conducive.

Optimizing projects use different optimizing tools such as:

  • Kanban
  • Kaizen
  • Poka Yoke
  • 5S
  • SMED
  • VSM
  • TOC
  • One piece flow
  • Jidoka
  • Andon
  • Visualisation
  • Empowerment
  • Hoshin kanri
  • Genbutsu gemba
  • PDCA
  • Chaku chaku

Rationalization is supposed to reduce process costs (cost of resources, input of raw materials , work time) and the savings are generated by increasing productivity and efficiency by using low capital investment. Optimization can be made by:

  1. Description of the processes in an accurate and uniform way
  2. Description of the relationship between these processes,
  3. Presentation of processes in graphical way for improved transparency and comprehensibility for everyone
  4. Identification of drawbacks and defects
  5. Simulation of processes according to the revised version (optimized) to achieve good final results
  6. Implementation of high-tech tools which improve the processes
  7. Improvement of main processes

The effects of effective optimization are:

  • Increase of productivity
  • Balance the production line
  • Improvement of performance
  • Lower labor costs
  • Optimization of Employment
  • High flowability of the process

Process optimization uses the lean management methodology. Methodology of lean hospitals is used Referring to the optimization of  medical processes. Lean management in English is the “slim management” which is used to restructure the company. It aims to produce good at the least cost, using the minimum amount of resources. Lean management is the concept of company management which essence is to achieve high productivity and product quality with a “slimmer” business that maximizes the organization of all processes in the company. This model assumes, on the one hand, the introduction of rationalizing changes in the business and way of managing resources and on the other hand, it insists on building mutually beneficial cooperation with customers and suppliers and on shaping the attitudes of teamwork, engagement and continuous improvement. Lean management aims to maximize customer satisfaction while maintaining a high morale in the group by changing the way employees and management think. “Lean-management is a overall company management system, where the human being is the center of the system and the other elements are the principles of work, organization, strategies and methods for solving business tasks [Lean management 2013]. Lean management is the limitation of the resources necessary to implementation production plans and services [Lean-management 2013]. The creator of the lean concept is John Krafcik, who first used the this term  in his work: „Triumph of the lean production system”. This concept has been widespread by three MIT scientists (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), the authors of one of the first books on lean management – James Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Ross, which was presented in the book “The Machine That Changed the World”, the results of analyzes from Japanese, American and European manufacturing companies. As a model they recognized the Japanese company Toyota which used the Toyota Production System. Toyota’s production system was first named “slimming”, “thin” system and Taichii Ohno, Sakichi Toyoda and Kichiro Toyoda are considered as the creators of lean manufacturing. Lean production refers to the manufacturing field, while lean management refers to the service field.  The philosophy of lean management seeks waste (Japanese – muda), which is responsible for low efficiency and using the available methods and tools to improve. It is important to find not only the waste itself but also its sources to eliminate it. The concept of a lean system derives from the automotive industry, where these methods were first used to improve the car manufacturing process. Through the observation of car manufacturer other companies began to take an example from them and soon after that also other industries.

Muda as an indicator of process organization

There are 8 types of muda which are defined by the Toyota Production System:

– Overproduction – too high production when supply exceeds demand. Overproduction is risky because the product may not meet changing expectations of customer, it is easier to use a pull system than a push system. The pull system consists production of goods when it is needed, preferably in production systems, which have no continuous flow and the push system causes the produced goods to be in warehouse uncertainty that they will be sold.

– reserves – collecting of reserves causes the company to have “frozen” capital and can’t use financial resources for other purposes such as the purchase of a new production machine. Some products may be invalidated.

–  unnecessary movement – occurs when the workstations are organized wrong and the employee spent spend more time on walking than working.

–  unnecessary transport – is the transfer of products and raw materials more often than necessary. The reason for this is the bad placement of workstations as well as the halls of the factory –warehouse and production hall.

-waiting time – is the time at which employee on one workstation waits for product from second workstation. Occurs when processes and actions aren’t continuous, when there are downtimes and workstations are separated from each other.

-occurrence of defects –  is related to product defects, errors in documentation, poor interpretation of instructions and procedures, ignorance and lack of experience of the employee.

– Over-treatment – unnecessary actions that don’t add any value.

– Lost of creativity – wasted human potential which is considered the eighth type of waste that isn’t always included. These are the losses resulting from lack of commitment from employee, ignoring their ideas or lack of concern for their development, as a result employees become burn out and have no ideas for improvement [Graban 2011].

To eliminate the source of the muda and to effectively analyze the work, it is worthwhile to optimize the process and use various methods to improve it. These are , empowerment, 5S, JIT-just in time, JIS-just in sequence, VSM- Value stream mapping, SMED – Single Minute Exchange of Die, TPM – Total Productive Maintenance, TOC – Theory of Constraints, One piece flow, Jidoka, Andon, Visualization , Hoshin Kanri, Genchi genbutsu, PDCA and Chaku chaku. These methods are used in many businesses depending on their: industry, size, management attitude, valid management philosophy and employee motivation.