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Adventures In TPS Learning Long Cycle Times

Jun 16, 2014 | Posted by Ben Thompson

A while back I blogged about the idea behind job analysis and data collection. The purpose of such observations being to time processes to gather data on how long the work within a process takes. First taking ten full cycle observations, to gather data on the process as a whole; then breaking down the work movements that occur in it work within the process, the work elements, and timing them as well. Highlighting the lowest repeatable times that this process can be completed in and subtracting this repeatable time from the greatest time it took to complete the process to find the fluctuation in the time it takes to complete the process.

But what if the cycle time on a process is really long? We can’t just sit there observing a 100 hour cycle of a process ten times or really even once for that matter it just takes too long. So how do we get a good sense of how to improve the process in a realistic time frame?

We have come across this issue with a few clients since I have started my journey as a student of TPS and the practice is simple and remains true to the TPS philosophy. We observe and time the process breaking it down into its work elements. If it appears we can assume ~80% of the work cycle is similar we can also assume the problems observed will effect the process more or less the same throughout the process. So, by observing a good chunk of progress of the process we can begin to categorize work elements into value added and non-value added groupings.

You see value added work elements are what the customer pays for; value added meaning the worker is changing the fit, form, or function of the materials in order to produce the product. Non-value added elements are thus the segments of work that we can reduce to their bare minimum needed to produce the product. In other words non-value added work elements are generally full of waste, and reducing waste is what TPS is all about. Tune in next week for part 2 and I’ll walk you through a specific example of a job analysis of a process with a long cycle time. Till then,






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