Kanban Sucks: If It’s Not Done Right.

Kanban Sucks: If It’s Not Done Right.

by Patrick Adams | Apr 16, 2024

What You’ll Learn:

In this episode, hosts Andy Olrich and Shayne Daughenbaugh discuss Kanban not just as a method, but as a choreography of productivity, transforming the manufacturing landscape into a finely tuned performance of excellence.

Amidst this dance of efficiency, some voice the question: does Kanban suck?

About the Guest:  

Steve Ansuini is the dynamic owner of the Center for Employee Development, LLC (C4ED), founded in 2007. Specializing in Lean Manufacturing, Transactional Lean, Health Care Lean, Maintenance, and Soft-Skills training, he has collaborated with Fortune 100 companies, achieving significant reductions in safety incidents, inventory, and operational costs. Beyond his business pursuits, Mr. Ansuini has partnered with Purdue University to establish and operate a Lean Environment Simulator (LES) since 2015, one of just six units available to the public globally. With a rich background including 3 years at Toyota Engineering & Manufacturing of North America and 17 years at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, he brings a wealth of expertise from his 10-year stints at Mack Trucks and the US Marine Corps.


⁠Click Here For Andy Olrich’s LinkedIn⁠⁠

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Click Here For Steve Ansuini’s LinkedIn


Andy Olrich  00:00

Hello, and welcome to this episode of the lean solutions podcast, led by your host Shane Daughenbaugh and myself, Andy. Alright, how’s it going?


Shayne Daughenbaugh  00:39

It’s going well, sir, thank you very much. How about yourself?


Andy Olrich  00:43

Pretty good. Pretty good. Thanks


Shayne Daughenbaugh  00:45

you very much. I got a question for you here at the beginning of the year. You know, we’re in March, we’re, you know, the first quarter still, what is a goal you have planned that you plan to accomplish this year? And then the follow up question to that is, how are you visually tracking that goal?


Andy Olrich  01:04

Okay, so I have a big goal. And we’ll we’ll talk a little bit more about it later on. But I have a goal to attend and present at the Lean Solutions Summit in this September, in Michigan. Okay, so there’s a bit of a cross primer there. But it’s a real thing. It’s a real goal. So for me down here in Australia, there’s a little bit of planning required, and all the family life things around it to get me on the plane and over there. So it’s good question about the visualization. So I actually have a process where I track all of my key tasks and work so and it’s very visual, I’m a visual person. So really, I start with a high level goal in mind, and that goes up on the wall. And then I break that down into sub, little sub tasks to help me you got to take it out a bite at a time. And then as I do those, I moved them from one column across, it’s a very visual process where I take a little card basically and go from one place across to do then doing so I’m in the process of doing some things now and then come September, it’ll be in the Done column. So that’s a very visual system I use for how I keep myself on track and reach that goal and awesome property. Now, what’s a call chain Kanban


Shayne Daughenbaugh  02:15

is my understanding that that’s what that’s called. So I came across her was given this very fancy, or I say very visual word picture. So like a finely tuned symphony, orchestrating productivity. Kanban transcends traditional manufacturing methods, introducing a visual and dynamic system that dances with precision through the production process. I love these words. Come on isn’t just a method. It’s a choreography of productivity, transforming the manufacturing landscape into finely tuned performance of excellence. Now, here’s the kicker. But amidst this dance of efficiency, some voices still question does current bond sack? You know, I gotta, I gotta, you know, throw it back to you. And is that is that something that that you’ve come across and seen or heard? When,


Andy Olrich  03:13

like many things in lane were not used within the spirit or as for how it was intended, so I don’t think it sucks it actually it keeps me moving and humming very simply very visual, but we’re not going to talk too much about it, because we’ve got a fantastic guest here today.


Shayne Daughenbaugh  03:29

Please tell us about it.


Andy Olrich  03:31

I know that for us, Steve and Sweeney. So Steve is the dynamic owner of the Center for employee development LLC, founded in 2007. So specializing in Lean Manufacturing, transactional lean healthcare, lean maintenance, and soft skills training, he has collaborated with Fortune 100 companies, and achieving significant reductions in safety incidents, inventory and operational costs. So key word there. Yeah, again, it’s not just manufacturing. Okay, this is where it’s happening everywhere. So, Steve is beyond his business pursuits. He’s partnered with Purdue in university to establish and operate a lean environment simulator or less, since 2015. And look, this is just one of six units available to the public globally. And with the rich background, including three years at Toyota engineering and manufacturing of North America, and 17 years at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, he brings an absolute wealth of expertise from his 10 year stint at Mack Trucks and the US Marine Corps. Well, without further ado, Hey, Steve,


Shayne Daughenbaugh  04:35

we’re happy to have you here. Thank you so much for stepping out of the classroom and into the podcast here. So this minute, give us a little bit of a little, a little bit on your background. Like, Andy just read a great, like a great summary of all kinds of things seven years here 17 years or three years here, just all kinds of stuff. 


Steve Ansuini  04:56

Yeah, yep. Well, I Started with 10 years in the Marine Corps. So I was given a lot of good discipline, direction and development in my younger years, which was helpful. And then I went to work with Mack Trucks for 10 years. And so they’re world known for their durability and their long longevity of the product. And then I joined Toyota and spent a little over 20 years with Toyota 17, at the manufacturing in Kentucky, and that was still my home base. But I was in North America for the last three years, I was with Toyota. And so since then, I’ve worked with large, like Caterpillar was my largest manufacturing customer. Wells Fargo was my largest service organization, and worked with several hospitals and clinics, insurance companies, car rental agencies, Boeing, you know, so there’s just a plethora of opportunities that I’ve had to develop in lane, because I did get bootcamp from Toyota for 20 years. But, you know, I feel like I’m still learning. And I think anyone who is truly doing Lean should feel like they’ve never arrived, but they’re still learning and develop.


Andy Olrich  06:19

That’s great. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. As he said, shine this, there was a lot in there and more Steve around your, your history and background. So strap yourselves in listeners, we have got someone very, very skilled and knowledgeable on on all things land, let alone what we’re going to focus on a bit today. So thanks, again, for your time, Steve. And this is this is going to be great. So I’ll jump in. In all of that diverse experience, health, manufacturing, you know, working for all those different companies, when it comes to lean, and implementing some processes and methodologies. What do you find? When that’s that initial kickoff point? You know, when when a company is wanting to start lean? And they bring you in and say, Hey, we I’ve seen this stuff, we want to do it? Where do you find this is the first hurdle to get over? Yeah,



it is always a cultural hurdle. I don’t believe I’ve been in any company that culture has not been the biggest obstacle, people have a tendency to feel comfortable with the way they’ve done things for 20 3040 years sometimes. And they feel like it’s worked for them than it may have. And they don’t want to really look at changing because we have a tendency to resist change. And so getting over that cultural hurdle, I have found very effective ways of doing it and give them some early wins that are like low hanging fruit. And of that you would have things like five s and continuous improvement, and Kanban systems, and they start seeing the value of these systems. And then they get on board pretty quick. And so without fail, it seems like the culture does the change does take about three to five years. But it is something that must not be rushed. If you ever go to a company, and they said, Well, if you had been here three years ago, you would have said this was a picture of lean, but we’re really doing bad now. And what that tells me is a someone came in as a trainer or consultant and gave them all these tools and launched all these things. But the people didn’t understand them. And as the consultant left, things kind of go back to the way they were because that’s what they’re most comfortable with. And they don’t understand why they were doing it differently. And so the whole thing with culture is paramount. And we need to start with leadership. Right. So


Shayne Daughenbaugh  08:58

So Steve, a question that comes to mind. And you know, maybe Andy, you may be thinking similarly, but you’re telling me Pilcher three to five years? That’s a long commitment. So what is going to keep me motivated to you know, if I’m the owner of a company or, you know, executives in a company, what is going to keep us motivated to keep plowing ahead to keep working ahead? Along the way? What are some of the wins that we’re going to see? Or maybe maybe you can even share like a story of an initiative that did work, and that that shifted the culture dramatically? Yes,


Steve Ansuini  09:32

yes. Working with a large manufacturer, we were charged with working in three different functional areas. And we were given one team and each of those areas. And so with those teams, what we did was we did some training with them and help them understand things like five s and Kanban and problem solving and gave them the rudimentary and then coach them through it and actual problem that they were experiencing. And in one area, we were required to change to another team because of business needs, the other team wasn’t available that we were initially given. And so we had to move on to another team, and then a third team, maybe within a month and a half. And so it was a little frustrating for us. But to me, it was a very powerful message, because I had folks from the very first team that I worked with, come to me off the off the clock basically, and said, Hey, I’m doing this, and I found that this was working well, but I’m not quite sure what to do next. And so giving them early wins in these areas can be very powerful.


Shayne Daughenbaugh  10:46

So what you know, tie into this Kanban thing with that, that question we just asked, because you mentioned Kanban, give what’s what’s the example, you know, for those that are so our listeners that may not really understand or have kind of a vague idea of what Kanban is, in this particular instance, what did the Kanban look like, for that particular, you know, that particular company,



they were working with what we call Yama, zoomy charts, which Andy sounds a little similar to what you’re talking about, and how you organize your information. But they weren’t. And they were working with various other tools, but they weren’t reaching success. And that’s why they brought us in. And we were there to help make that connection. And as we introduced it, and explain the why people had a tendency to be more understanding and willing, and my approach to almost everything is say, Okay, let’s agree to do a pilot. If it doesn’t work, we’ll throw it out. Sure. And I know it’s gonna work. But I want to give them that out, because then they don’t feel like they’re gonna have to do this for the rest of their life. If it’s not something they like, you know. And so with one activity, around Kanban, we were able to produce a $12 billion savings for a company in a two year project.


Shayne Daughenbaugh  12:17

I mean, that’s okay, I guess. Yeah. Is that all state?



And well, in my experience, the percentages of savings are almost consistent, you know, you could pretty much say you’re gonna get 10% savings with labor, you’re gonna get a 15% savings with inventory. But when you work with large manufacturing, that’s when it comes to $12 billion, you know, but looking on a smaller scale. I mean, that was a huge organization with 57,000 employees, you know, but when you look on a smaller scale, I worked with a company that had 40 employees, and worked with him for three years. And Kanban was definitely part of that structural change that we were making. And he told me this past January that he was up 419% net profits in that three year period of time. And so for a small business, that can mean a huge change in their lifestyle.


Andy Olrich  13:17

Yeah, yeah, I’ll just that’s, that’s a fantastic example. One of the things I’ll just pick up on this year, you you mentioned about the Amazon e chart. And so you know, when people hear the word Kanban, and especially with the agile and the digital and the scrums or the world, there’s a lot of focus on they have the the artifacts around a Kanban. Board. And but yeah, there’s also there’s different iterations within that, that can introduce some unnecessary complexity, but also, when we talk about in the inventory management space, so on the assembly line, for example, with the supply and withdrawal Kanban. So it’s something that again, with a lot of Lean tools, depending on sort of where you’ve been, and what they use the call may call them certain things or different flavors. If you were to try and really describe to somebody simplistically about the, the, maybe the few, the three or four different types of Kanban or, or even to whatever you like, could you give us a bit of a, an elevator pitch on that?



Yeah, I think most people think of Kanban from a project production side, and that would be a production instruction. Kanban but the other would be a parts withdraw. Kanban. So those are two distinct con bonds. And each of those have two subsets. So if you look at a production Kanban you’re looking at intra process Kanban and signal Kanban. And they’re used for different things. But when I talk with people about this and show them these tools, I tell them, you don’t need to call it that. You want to use language that your your culture is accustomed to, because that’s going to help move the culture along faster. So When you get to the parts withdraw Kanban, you have inter process and supplier Kanban. And so an organization has to start in house before they can start having their suppliers use Kanban. And they have to understand it. And so just starting to use a basic production instruction Kanban, I take the kanban card out of the tote or the box and put it in the Kanban male slot, before I take the first part out of the box or the tote, and then I start pulling it, the way the system is filled, is it’s designed that there will not be an opportunity to run out of parts before you get your delivery. Because they take into consideration how long does it take for the Kanban to get from your mailbox, took logistics, and how long it takes them to pull the part how long it takes him to queue it, how long it takes him to deliver it. And so what you’re doing is you’re setting yourself up for not running out of parts, but you’re able to reduce the amount of materials that you have in stock. And so that does many things for you, it frees up floor space gives you a little bit better area to work in, and you’re not piled up with boxes all over the place. trying you know and feeling overwhelmed, right, honestly, if people just start pushing parts to you, there’s tremendous value in a very simple Kanban.


Shayne Daughenbaugh  16:35

So So Steve, you know, you just kind of you walked us through it. And we started this this whole, you just walked us through a little bit of a process for Kanban. You we started this whole thing with this idea that, you know, there are some people that can tout just the glories and majesty of Kanban. And there’s others that man this is stupid sucks, you know, I don’t I don’t understand it. When you you know, let’s go back to kind of the weave the why into what are the what are the main buckets? If you’re going to start with a new company, or start a company on a new journey with they haven’t used Kanban? Before? What are the main buckets to do so because you just mentioned some great things. It’s not just about, oh, here’s a card that says it’s time to order, you also have to think about, you know, what’s the time it takes for this card to get to where it needs to go to pull it apart? To put it in queue to get it to you, you know, all of those things. So what are those main buckets? And what is the why you give to the employees that have to do this so that they have a better acceptance of because you also said at the very beginning, we don’t like to change. So if you’re gonna ask me to change, telling me the why is helpful. So what are the what are kind of that the high level buckets? And the why to help our listeners understand, Oh, I could see why this could be helpful. Yeah,



well, I think starting off with the, again, just the simple production Kanban, we want them to understand that we’re going to design the system with a little bit of leeway in it so that they cannot possibly run out of stock. And I’ve been in some organizations that they almost freeze out of fear, because there used to happen 20 Totes full of parts by their workstation. And they only use two a day. I mean, you know, and so people have a tendency to worry about that kind of thing. So again, what we do is we build fluff into the system and say, Okay, you only use two a day. So if I put four here instead of 20, we’ve saved this much in inventory. Now, what happens is a lot of people on the floor don’t really understand the cost of inventory. And so we go into the very fundamental inventory carrying cost and just say, Okay, so for every one of these totes that you have here, they rep that represents $20 cost to the company every month, and if you have 20 of them, and you only use two, that means 18 of them is costing the company, but it’s not generating any profits. And so we help them to at least make a connection that well yeah, I don’t want to run out parts, but maybe it makes more sense and people that have a tendency to hoard materials and spare parts and PLCs and things like that. They don’t like Kanban but I have seen where even in the maintenance area when you put Kanban in the maintenance area, how you can have a significant savings across the board and still not impact availability of items when you need them. So a Kanban is a visual control. It provides me with an instruction. When I need to order parts. I pull it off the coat, put it in the mail slot. The team lead normally picks up the condom on cards and then gets them to the logistics group, the logistics group goes through them. And on the kanban card, there’s there’s a lot of information on the kanban card. But basically, it’s going to say how many days between delivery like it would be once a day or four times a day. And you know, how long does it take me to process this, because if it’s an internal part that you’re providing, the lead time may not be very long, when I worked with Toyota, we were stamping parts out, that would be in finished vehicles a shift and a half later. So we didn’t have a long time. And when we did inventory at other organizations that I’ve worked with, it might take you a week, three to five days to do a, you know, a count inventory. at Toyota, we did it between day shift and second shift. So it took us an hour and a half to do a hard count inventory. And that just blew me away when I saw that. I mean, and that’s all because of the ability to reduce stock. So you don’t have a lot of excess. Because everything needs to be counted when you do a full count. Inventory.


Andy Olrich  21:16

It’s a Yeah, that’s that’s a great example. And just a personal reflection I had in the office environment, I had someone that was struggling to get their head around what we’re asking them to introduce some Kanban out and out on the production area. But so Okay, well, let’s take a first spin in here and finding that one or two things that they did run out of in the office space and setting up just some simple little cards to help with the so we don’t stock out, theoretically, and we took that for a walk in. And when I was describing it to this person and and talked about working capital, or those that money just sitting there making that visible. He said to me, he said, Yeah, it’s kind of Yeah, we don’t overdo it do he said it’s kind of like as soon as I use five litres of fuel in my car, I don’t go to the petrol station, fill it right up again, like we said, fit for now I’ve got a bit of a distance to go. He said, This is a kind of like that, I don’t sort of just keep filling it up for the sake of it. Just use what I need to make sure I don’t run out and sort of work out kilometers, that in this amount of time, I need to probably call in and, and all those sorts of things. And he said I’ve got the fuel gauge where it says empty. And then I’ve got that little bit of time. So he it was interesting finding that thing that was really grinding their gears, because if if from a cultural perspective, if we’re asking them to do it out there, are you guys using it in here? And do you really connect with it? So it was a bit of fun with things around stationery and empty and coffee and sugar and all those sorts of things. So yeah, that that was a great example and and how people can connect and visual again. So that’s what I love. That’s why it doesn’t suck for me, because it’s just like, it makes a working capital cost. So the inventory costs visible. It makes I’m about to run out, or I don’t need to go down there and talk them up because I haven’t received a signal yet. So right yeah.  So I think that’s yeah, that just something to we talked about that that amazing improvement example, that you said with with the $12 billion savings, right all? The other example in the smaller company was like 416%. Was there a we’re really trying to unpack and try and take some of the mystery out around where this can go wrong. And why as we said in the title, it sucks. But was there a common challenge and a little bit deeper than a cultural thing? Like was this there? Was this some specific things that jumped out in both those companies that you needed to be sensitive to pick up early and how you kind of manage that? Yeah,



and I think the biggest thing is, they have to feel comfortable with it. And the example when I said they had 20 Totes by the machine, but he only did two a day. If I said we were only going to give you two a day, he would have probably had a heart attack, okay. And so you want to count wins, and you need to get the cooperation and the cultural change in order to get those wins. So we agreed to do four totes at his works. nation. And so he didn’t worry about falling or running out of parts or, you know, having difficulty with that. And it was a significant savings in just that one machine and just multiply that by the 130 some odd employees at that company that would have had potentially a similar situation where they had a lot of parts line side that didn’t need to be there. One other thing I’d like to mention about Kanban, and I’m sure you all have heard this, when we had the whole issue around COVID, and all the material shortages and, and toilet paper, shorter isn’t everything. Well, everybody blamed lean for it. And although everyone was doing Lean still took time to recover. The people that were doing Lean and using Kanban. And their suppliers using Kanban, they returned to productivity much quicker than organizations that did not use a an inventory system like Kanban.


Andy Olrich  26:03

It was a lot of time, it’s like this just in time as we’ve just proved that just in time is it’s not. I mean, it was once in a hopefully, lifetime that then yeah. Down here to toilet paper thing paper was it wasn’t that we didn’t have enough it was people just went crazy and just took way more than they needed because of that uncertainty about what may be happening next. So again, giving that clarity around, what’s your usual type of flow? And yeah, that’s I forgotten about the toilet paper thing until you reminded me that it seems like such a time ago. But yeah, they did. As I said, they they came back online a lot quicker than some others. I think,


Shayne Daughenbaugh  26:44

Steve, Steve, whatever you suggested to companies that you’ve talked about Kanban in regard to how they can share this knowledge in the system with their suppliers. What are some suggestions? Hey, like, I could do it. But how do I get Andy to understand how to do it, what’s a good way to transition between what what I’m doing here in my shop, and my suppliers back there? Yeah.



And I think this goes to the issue of starting with leadership. Because if if I as an organization as being very successful with Kanban, I’m going to have some bottom line improvements that I can tout, with leadership of other organizations, my suppliers, and I can say, this save, there’s so many percent in inventory carrying cost to save the so much and floor space. So I can tap that to the leadership because the leadership needs to drive the cultural change. But it needs to be embraced by the line worker in order to thrive. And so if the leadership is willing to put manpower and necessary support to a main initiative, it’s going to go well, as long as the hourly worker embrace it, and they need to say, Okay, I don’t understand why you’re doing it. So I need to explain to them so that they do understand it. Because if you just say, do it, which was probably the management style, up through the 50s. You know, just do it. People want to know why they want to understand the purpose of this, and is it value added? They may not use those terms, but they’re going to be thinking, you know, why am I doing this, this is extra work for me. But when you get down to it, it actually creates less work for you in the long run. But the change is sometimes painful for folks. And that’s what we need to help them understand the value of it, so that they’ll be more likely to do it. Sure.


Andy Olrich  28:58

We touched on the unique events of the toilet paper. Thing is, are you comfortable to share an example of where we did some calculations with a manufacturer or supplier involved? And he kept running out, but was there something that the cat the calculation that you put in or there was some other things not such a global event like COVID? But was there as a as a bit of a tricky industry where you’ve, you found it a little bit harder to get Kanban up in a way then some others? Yeah,



well, I think that we had an instance where we had a company that did a lot of specialty work. And so they were basically doing one offs. But it was all around a similar family. Right. Okay. And so what we ended up doing there was working with their engineering group, and we went from 10,000 variations in their products because that was basically one offs for them. They they built one or two of them. And then that they wouldn’t see it for another year or two. But we worked with the engineering and talked about, okay, what can we compromise with all of these items, you know. And so when they found that they had like five or six things that could be made common on all of the units, and allow them to do the variations, then then we started to say, Okay, now let’s see if we can control these five or six items. And I mean, simple things like brackets, and, you know, bolts and things like that it starts off small, but once they see the win, then they start seeing it from their perspective. And when I go into an organization, I always say, I don’t have the answers, I really don’t you guys have the answers. And what I need to do is I need to help you understand lean, and the tools, and that’s going to help you to identify what the answers are. And we coach them in projects that are actually applied to their workspace. And that’s where they get that, that initiative for doing it on their own once we leave.


Andy Olrich  31:11

Thank you a great example. And I guess, would you say it’s, it’s another tool in the tool belt to help drive organizations towards standardization where they can and it makes it a bit smoother. So yeah, appreciate that. That insight, it


Shayne Daughenbaugh  31:25

makes me think, the more the more we’re talking to Steve, the more nuances and depth that you’re adding to this idea of Kanban. Because you can take it from a very high level Kanban is just kind of a visual way of managing a process, or, you know, a supply, ordering supplies and those kinds of things. But you keep pointing out these other little nuances that really help enhance the effectiveness of it, you know, similar like your example, right there, hey, we have all these one offs that we do, but there might be some commonalities that we can put a kanban system in with those Can we start creating everything, just as you know, this kind of bracket, at least, you know, change, kind of get those common things? Or, you know, the timing, understanding the timing, you mentioned that earlier. Are there any one or two other nuances that just kind of add to this richness that we can share, you know, with our with our listeners, in regards to the depth that Kanban can go not complexity, but just like, hey, these, this just helps, you know, just enhance it. Yeah.



What I usually encourage new lean travelers, is that they need to personalize it. And so I probably have only showed one client, my Kanban calculation spreadsheet, because it’s scary looking at it. And so I don’t want them to be scared, you know. And what I usually do when I work with an organization is I work in lean as a consultant, just like I work in Lean In manufacturing, and that is, you pull the information from me. So when you ask me certain questions, I’m going to know that you’re ready for that next step, you’re ready for that next piece of information. And so I think with Kanban, like I said, there’s there’s, I’ve seen some very complex con bonds. And for our training system, I have very simple Kanban on the totes, and they’re actually adhered to the totes. And the reason we do that is if we were to have the pocket and pull the, the kanban card out, and put it in the slot and follow through with that process. It would cause us to go much longer in time for the training. And so we have classes that are just one day long, and it’s impossible to do it we had three and three and a half day classes, we have week long classes. It really depends upon what the customer needs are but the Kanban are here and we explain the process so that they understand this is abnormal. This is not typical Kanban it’s just like committee by cards we use committee by cards and we say this is our normal, you know system and this is the way we use it here. But when you use it, you need to personalize it. And so things like Kanban Andy, you mentioned already about stationery and things. I have multiple pictures of stationery closets that have been combined and it does prevent you from running out of materials. And I will say I don’t do this but I know of three people that have they did a kanban system on their pantry and so they don’t have to take inventory before they go to the store and they buy only the cards that are in the Kanban slot. And so if the young member of the family says, Hey, you didn’t get Twinkies, okay? Did you put the kanban card in the box? No. Okay, well, box, I’ll get it the next time I go to the store. Okay, so that’s kind of a forcing the culture change within the young people. But in they said that they spend less money at the grocery store, they never run out of things they want unless it’s someone not following the system. And so you know, what you can do with it? It


Andy Olrich  35:33

is and some of the smart fridges that are out there now. So you know, for people now, because I don’t like running out of tea, and I, and I’m very careful what Lean I bring into the home with my family. But the tea, the different types of tea, there’s one there falling back from what I did, previous place was, yeah, when we get to this level for these tea bags, can’t run out a lady. Great. All right. It makes my world. So that’s a terrific example. So I think what I really love, too, so you talked about this pool system, right? Like we have a framework for these interviews, right? And pretty quickly, we start to pop up additional questions. You’re, we’re, it’s working now what you’re listening to, as you’re pulling some additional questions and things out of us as we go. So, good job. The other thing I really wanted to tease out a little bit more or pull more from you is the Lean environment simulator. Okay, for me, some places that may be a bit hesitant to try Kanban, somewhere you’ve developed, can you talk us through this environment simulator, how this has been established and what the purpose of that is all about? Sure,



sure. Well, the lean simulator, you will not find it any Toyota plant, just everybody thinks that it’s from Toyota. But General Motors developed the Lean training system, and they call it a sui simulated work environment. And when I worked with the caterpillar, they were installing 25 of these units globally. And at the time, GM had 44 of these units. And they’re about at the time, they were about a quarter million dollars per unit. So it was a significant investment. And so this developed and was used to help workers in the plants have a chance to work in a lean environment, and see how it’s supposed to work. And so that would help them to feel a little bit more comfortable with what changes we may have needed to make on the floor. And so we typically establish a lean training system of some type in every organization. But it’s usually around their product. So like hybrid water heater, would not build cabs, like I build cabs, they would be building hybrid water heaters, you know, and companies that do brake lines and do you know, gas tanks and things like that, it would be a simulation around their product line, for two reasons. First of all, it would be more familiar, and people would make the connection faster and easier. But it’s usually cheaper for them to do it also, because they always have some product that they may not be as proud of as others. And that could become part of the simulator, and not worry about the blemishes and things like that, you know. And so the simulation walks people through the beginning of the day where we do checks for safety quality, cost and five s on their workstations and they had the committee buy cards, and we call them K cards, because who wants to say Konishi buy 100 times, right? So K cards and they would follow that procedure. And if they came across an exception, they would get their team lead and say okay, I can’t mark this off because it’s not safe or whatever the case may be, then the team lead would then assist them in getting it to a safe condition before we did our first manufacturing round. And then as we did manufacturing, we would emphasize things like some locations have totes side by side that are the same part. And with Kanban system, you pull all the parts from one tote. At one time, you don’t pull from two different totes because that would mess up your Kanban Card delivery system. Okay. And so they they learn a little bit of a nuance there with it. They have all the materials they need to make their product and the goal is 28 cabs in 30 minutes. The speed on the line is one minute. So they have the capacity to make 30 cabs in 30 minutes, but only about 5% of the classes ever get 28 cabs in 30 minutes. So it’s a challenge for him. 2526 27, very, very frequent. But the 28, it seems like it’s a hard target. But it’s meant to be challenging. But we also do five s, we use the boomerangs on the corner of all the moveable racks and things like that. So they really get to see lean, how it should be in the plant. And we have a couple examples of things that do not have the corners on the floor, like you would expect with items. But that’s only for movable items. And I have come across some organizations that put put those boomerangs around everything, even if it’s bolted to the floor, or they still put it around. And you don’t need to do that that’s not the purpose of the corners. The purpose of that is to highlight where the home base is, for at the end of the shift beginning of the shift. It could be all over the place during the work day depending upon need. But that’s its home location. And so Kanban is the same way we have different systems. here that we show them how we draw parts and how the parts are replenished. If a company does a lot of material handling, we have a material handler role that we can put in place here as part of the training. But most of our training is assembly. And disassembly, we also have a quality gate at the end of the assembly process. And it has to be meeting expectations. Otherwise, it’s not a first time pass cab to the client. And so that’s where the where they fall short of the 28 sometimes where they might have, if they bumped two cabs together, they’re considered to scrap cabs, we can’t issue them to the customer until after we put them in through utility. And so there’s just an opportunity to feel lean. And our team leaders take on different personality types. In the first couple rounds, it’s like don’t bother me, I’m drinking my coffee and eating my doughnuts kind of a thing. And in the next round, they’re actively engaged. And if they pull their hand on cord, they immediately respond. And in the last round, our team leads anticipate their needs. So there’s a lot less activity on the and on because the team lead is taking that active role. And that’s what the expectation is in Lean organizations. So that it just a really neat way to learn stuff. I’m a very visual person. And so I tried to learn chess, and I read a couple of books on it. And I was so confused, I couldn’t make heads or tails. I had a friend sit down with me with 30 minutes one day, and I was playing chess, you know, and I think Lean is very much like that, if you read the books on it, you can probably do it and might take you five or 10 years to do it. But if you bring in someone who’s knowledgeable and can guide you in the journey, it’s gonna take you less time to get to that level that you would take five or 10 years to get to. And you’re going to realize all those savings for that longer period of time as well.


Andy Olrich  43:10

Yeah, and you’ve got a certain asset, there’s a period of time that you spent Nouvel, you also have a shorter version of that simulator available. Yes.



And the small version, we call the mini Les, the mini lean environment simulator. And the cabs are about two and a half foot by two foot and about 18 inches wide. And people are putting parts on the calves. And so one of the things that I provided is a link, if people are interested in what the less looks like. It’s a video that they can link to and look at it. It’s the global Great Lake Show on in Michigan. So that’s kind of typical up there. We always talk about the Great Lakes and everything. And it’s just something that they can see what it looks like the mini version, we’ve installed five mini versions, we just started doing them a year and a half ago. And they’re only about 50,000 in cost. But they give you some of the same abilities that you would with the full size system. We replicated the full size system in 2020 at an automotive plant in Detroit, and it was a $350,000 project. And so most companies not going to spend that kind of money on a training system. Yeah. So but the little system, we haven’t been a lot of schools, and it’s just been very helpful for them to get their training.


Andy Olrich  44:44

I love a segue. So thanks stay for a bit more detail on that. But Shana, speaking of Michigan and an opportunity to experience less I might throw to you and you might want to Xenon, and how they can come and see Steve and be part of it. Yeah,


Shayne Daughenbaugh  44:58

so Steve could room for me the you that are audience that on September 24 25, and 26, you will be available at the Lean summit billing global summit we have coming up with Lean solutions. Yes. And with with that, with your attendance there, are you able to the mini the mini less? Yes, yes. Maybe even a smaller than less, it’s less Yes. For people to it wouldn’t that will that be for people to actually engage in and go through the simulation? Or is it just to give a visual to kind of walk by like, you know, an exhibition booth? Yeah,



it’s not going to be set up the way it normally would be, which is one closed loop manufacturing line where you assemble and disassemble. But what we will be doing is, we’ll be using that same principle, but we have four systems set up, and there’ll be four teams of 10 people who are going to accept the challenge of coming up with the most efficient way of making product and having first quality delivery to the customer. So we’ll be looking at the standard work will be giving them some not so good standard work to start off with. And then they need to come up with the improvements that they want to make in order to it and from what I understand the afternoon of the last day of the summit is when they’re going to have competition. And I assume that all four teams will be in the same area at the same time, and they’re going to be pushing cabs out, as best they can to meet the demand. That’s


Shayne Daughenbaugh  46:39

gonna whether you’re involved in the challenge, or whether you’re going to be a bystander watching it. I’m very excited to to have this as part of our Lean summit, I think it’s going to be a great augmentation to it for this upcoming year. So very excited. Thank you so much. So where can where can people find more, you mentioned that you sent us a link to a video of the of the LDS. So we’ll we’ll put that in some of the show notes when it’s posted when we when we post the podcast. But where else can people find more information about you or be able to connect with you? Well,



I’m on LinkedIn. And it’s my full first name Steven with a pH, Ste pH, D, and J, and the last name and swinging. And so if you look me up, I always look forward to connecting with new people, like minded and many phone calls, and even some face to face meetings. It’s always been neat. Yeah. Excellent.


Shayne Daughenbaugh  47:43

Well, thank you so much, Steve, we really appreciate the time you’ve given us here. The the the content that we have the way you’ve been able to kind of tease out Kanban giving it a little more favorable look, especially when you’re talking about you know, the possibility of it being able to contribute to $12 billion in savings or 400. And what was it 19% 90%



net profit increase in three year right, increase? You know,


Shayne Daughenbaugh  48:11

so combine, yes, it may suck out there. It could also be something as as as was eloquently put, you know, a finely tuned symphony of orchestrating productivity. Yeah. So we really appreciate it. Steve, what you what you’ve given us here today. Thanks so much, Andy. We’ll wrap this up.


Andy Olrich  48:36

Look, Steve, I can’t wait to meet up with you in person in Michigan in September. And I think anyone who’s listened to this recording need would be inspired to reach out you’ve got such a wealth of experience and real lived examples of where you can supercharge your learning in your organization. So stay machine. Thank you so much for your time, Steve. It’s been a pleasure to have you on the show. And I look forward to catching up with you in the very near future. Thank you.


Steve Ansuini  49:04

Thank you, y’all have a good day. Thanks, everybody.


Meet Patrick

Patrick is an internationally recognized leadership coach, consultant, and professional speaker, best known for his unique human approach to sound team-building practices; creating consensus and enabling empowerment. He founded his consulting practice in 2018 to work with leaders at all levels and organizations of all sizes to achieve higher levels of performance. He motivates, inspires, and drives the right results at all points in business processes.

Patrick has been delivering bottom-line results through specialized process improvement solutions for over 20 years. He’s worked with all types of businesses from private, non-profit, government, and manufacturing ranging from small business to billion-dollar corporations.