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88 SMT Magazine • April 2015 The concepts related to Lean thinking con- tinue to be interpreted in different ways by dif- ferent people. Relating what happens in real life with principles of Lean as applied to man- ufacturing can serve to demystify the subject, opening up appreciation and acceptance for the adoption of new Lean ideas in a way that is simple and non-threatening. Let's take the example of queues, which have evolved naturally as a respectable alternative to a mad, free-for-all scramble. However, a queue for some people is a less-than-humanizing ex- perience. They associate it with being driven like sheep or cattle, wasting precious time. Be- ing stuck in queues is frustrating if the concept of queuing is abused. For example, the number and frequency of people arriving at a postal office counter is vari- able, as is the time that each person will spend at the counter, depending on the transaction. The number of people who can be processed at the counter is relatively fixed by the number of counters that are open. If more people come in to the post office than the available counters, the queue grows longer. If fewer people come in, the queue grows shorter or disappears. The most efficient length of the queue is one per- son. If this was to stay constant, it would ensure that all counters were busy all of the time, at the same time, and that no one is needlessly wait- ing in line. If we apply the principles of Lean thinking to the queue, the target should be to keep the queue size to one. The process has to be adjust- ed to achieve this with an uncontrolled input variable, in this example, the counter staff, to open or close windows dynamically. But rather than applying Lean principles to the post of- fice worker's job, which is valid, we can look at process optimization from a higher level. Many by Michael Ford MEnToR GRAPHICS VAloR DIVISIon THE ESSENTial piONEEr'S Survival GuiDE To Be lean is to Be Human Column

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