Standardized work

Establishing precise procedures for the work of each operator in a production process, based on three elements: 

  1. Branch time, the speed at which products must be made within a process to meet customer demand.
  2. The exact work sequence in which an operator performs tasks within the branch time.
  3. The standard inventory, including units in machines, needed to keep the process running smoothly.

Once standardized work is established and put into practice at workstations, the goal is to make continuous improvements through kaizen. Benefits of standardized work include documenting the current process for all shifts, reducing variability within processes, making it easier to train new operators, and reducing injuries and strain. In addition, standardized work provides a basis for improvement activities. 

Three basic forms are usually used in creating standardized work. By engineers and first-line supervisors, these are used to design the process, and by operators to make improvements to their own work. 

1. Process Capacity Sheet. 

This form is used to calculate the capacity of each machine in a linked set of processes (often a cell) to confirm actual capacity and identify and eliminate bottlenecks. It determines factors such as machine cycle time, turnover frequency and times for manual operations. 

2. Standardized Work Combination Table. 

This form contains the times for manual operations, walking and machine operations for each operator in a series of operations. It contains more detail and is a more precise process design tool than the Operator Balance Chart. The completed chart shows the interactions between operators and machines in a process and allows operators' work content to be recalculated as branch times increase or decrease over time. 

process capacity sheet
Process Capacity Sheet
standardized work combination table
Standardized Work Combination Table

3. Standardized Work Chart. 

This diagram includes the movements of the operators and the location of the material relative to the machine, and the overall process layout. It should show the three elements of standardized work: the current task time (and cycle time) for the task, the work sequence, and the amount of standard stock of work in progress needed to ensure smooth operation. Diagrams for standardized work often hang at workstations as a tool for visual management and kaizen. They are modified and updated as soon as workplace conditions change or improve. 

These forms for standardized work are often used in conjunction with two other forms: the Work Standards Sheet and the Job Instructions Sheet

standardized work chart
Standardized Work Chart

The Work Standards Sheet means various documents that prescribe how the product is to be made according to the design specifications. Often the Work Standards Sheet describes exactly what conditions and requirements must be met to ensure the quality of the product. 

The Job Instruction Sheet - also called a Job Breakdown Sheet or a Job Element Sheet - is used to train new operators. This sheet describes the steps of the job, specifying all the special tricks needed to perform the job safely, as qualitatively as possible and as efficiently as possible. 

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