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Why Entrepreneurialism and Manufacturing Time Based Standard Work Can In Concert Drive Exceptial Results

Many new entrepreneurial companies resist setting manufacturing time based standard work (TBSW) as they want to be fluid and have the ability to change/react to product innovation at a moment’s notice.  To react and change quickly is a trait that many big companies envy and try to recreate once lost, usually to internal bureaucracy or not understanding the Total Cost of Ownership or capital purchases to include future flexibility.  On the manufacturing side, it is always a balance of being fast and nimble with new products/production techniques but also being repeatable for quality, safety and cost purposes.  After all, one bad quality execution making it to the market can turn people off the product, make them sick, or in the worst case, kill them as we have all seen in the news from juice, to peanuts to fresh produce.  Or one bad safety execution could cause significant fines from the government or, even worse, death of an employee.  Either of these scenarios can have a disastrous effect on the bottom line and can potentially kill a company.

Interestingly TBSW and entrepreneurial spirit are not at odds with each other - it is exactly what Lean Manufacturing and Engaged Work Force Systems teach us.  A good example is the Sunny Delight Beverages case in which lines were originally built to do minimal change overs and only run a couple of items very fast.  This was the big company approach to saving cost but at the expense of the entrepreneurial spirit.  Once they were purchased by a private equity company, it became apparent that more product changes as well as more frequent and faster changeovers were needed to succeed.  By engaging the work force with a clear vision & strategy and then using continuous Kaizen at the floor level to set TBSW, SunnyD was able to triple its SKUs including new sizes, shapes and bottle materials, more than doubled the number of changeovers and still spend less time in total doing changeovers, effectively increasing capacity.  All this while having a safety record greater than 400% better than the beverage industry average, zero recalls in its history as its own company and minimal use of capital.

To sum it up, TBSW is the least waste way to accomplish a task in a designated amount of time 8 out of 10 times, the other 2 - life happens.  It allows an engaged workforce to work to the standard spend their thought energy either working on eliminating the 20% of the time deviating from TBSW, improve the TBSW for current process or adapt TBSW for the new innovation.


Stephen Perry