Applying Lean in the Lean 3P Design Process

Allan R Coletta is a chemical engineer with an extensive background in manufacturing operations, supply chain and engineering, gained while working in the chemical process and healthcare diagnostics industries. He recently authored a book, The Lean 3P Advantage: A Practitioner’s Guide to the Production Preparation Process.

Allan is my guest on the Business901 podcast next week where we discussed the Lean 3P Design process. This is a great follow up to a recent podcast, Lean Design interview with Ron Mascitelli.

Joe: You made a statement to me, that the 3P process applies Lean liberality at the point in the process where it can have the most influence. Now, I’m an old manufacturing guy, and I know that most of the cost is designed into a product and is not the fault of purchasing or production, but the word liberality stuck out to me. What did you mean by that? The Lean 3P Advantage

Allan: When I used that statement, it really is a significant part of what you’re trying to do when you think about it. Particularly, I was just involved in a week ago, in a week long 3P event, looking at a layout for a new production facility. When you’re looking at a new facility of any type, or even an expansion of an existing facility, you’re considering the maintenance of the equipment. You’re considering the location of people or a Kanban system. When you think of normal Kaizen type of approaches that we use, in manufacturing, particularly, you’ll select a tool, you’ll say well, this week, we’re going to look at quick change over, and so you do quick change over. Then you say; now we’re going to apply standard work, so you look at applying standard work to your process, or then we’re going to use some visual work display, and we’re going to start applying that. We tend to take our tool off a shelf and apply it. With 3P, what you’re trying to do, during  this event structure, is you’re trying to get all of those tools out onto the workbench.

You’re trying to play with them, look where things are stored, look at how things are going to be maintained, look at the flow within the layout, look at the impact of the operators, on the operators, the material handlers, all of that gets dialed into your thinking. When you’re building something, it’s a situation where you’re actually getting all of those various inputs, brought to the table, checked around, tossed around, argued about, and finally, resolved in some way that satisfies the majority of the needs. It really is a neat process for bringing all the tools in.

In the 3P process, one of the things that you always do with almost any change event is you try to establish a charter, and you set the boundaries that you need and establish what criteria are the most important for you to try to evaluate your designs. When I say that, I found it’s probably around 30 different criteria you could select from, and different people use different ones, but there are certain ones in any project that are going to bubble up to the top as more important than some of the others.

In some cases, one of the criteria might be low capital costs. If you don’t have a lot of budget, then it’s saying that, by virtue of that, you’re going to have to find some ways of being very creative in coming up with low?cost solutions. In other cases, you may say that, well, safety and environmental is a major concern because of the nature of the products we’ll be dealing with or the materials. But upfront, people select what the major criterion is that they’re looking at. As they develop these various designs, it could be people involvement, it could be capital, it could be any number of criteria.

Then you’re evaluating your designs based on the criteria that you know are important to your business, so it makes it a very flexible process. But it makes it one were upfront you understand what the key things are you’re looking to accomplish, so it takes some of the arbitrary nature of the decision process out of the way and allows you to have a very data based decision process that you go through in evaluating these designs you come up with.

Allan’s Lean experience started while serving as Site Manager for ICI Uniqema’s largest Specialty Chemicals plant in North America and continued to expand is his role as Senior Director of Engineering for Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics. His passion for manufacturing and engaging people in continuous improvement continues to grow through personal application of Lean principles. Allan serves on the Delaware Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s Fiduciary and Advisory Boards, and is a member of the Delaware Business Mentoring Alliance. He is also a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME).

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