ON A MISSION | LEAN SIX SIGMA
“Looking for a company that doesn’t just have a mission statement but is on a mission? Check out CITY | CLEAN AND SIMPLE,” CITY’s client-coach Audrey Carmichael said on a recent LinkedIn post.
“CITY | CLEAN AND SIMPLE is committed to serving its customers and developing its employees. This week was their second wave of Lean Laundry training and the excitement is real! They’re rolling out #Lean to improve operations and services, and #Kata for culture change and coaching their team,” Carmichael said.
On March 18, 2019, Audrey Carmichael from Six Discipline Consulting Services joined TRSA’s Jason Risley to create an informative podcast on Lean Six Sigma, a management tool and process that CITY has implemented. As CITY’s client-coach Carmichael’s expertise is vital to the overall improvements made throughout the facility.
Announcer: “Welcome to the TRSA podcast. Providing interviews and incites in the linen, uniform, and facility services industry. Most Americans might not realize it, but they’d benefit at least once per week from cleanliness and safety of laundered, reusable linens, uniforms, towels, mats, and other products provided by various businesses and organizations. TRSA represents the companies that supply, launder, and maintain linens and uniforms. In this podcast, we will bring the thought leader of the industry to you.”
Jason Risley: “Welcome again to this episode of the linen, uniform, and facility services podcast by TRSA, sponsored by 6D Disciplines Consulting Services. I’m your host, Jason Risley, senior editor of digital and new media at TRSA. Before we begin, we are always interested in hearing feedback from our listeners, so I’d love to hear your comments on the last episode of the podcast about the hospitality market. If you operate in that space and haven’t heard it yet, please go back and listen to episode 13 for a rundown of trends and opportunities in the hospitality market and send us a message at podcast@TRSA.org. In this week’s episode, we discuss Lean Six Sigma with Audrey Carmichael, client-coach with Six Discipline. Audrey is a certified Six Sigma black belt and a certified American Society for Quality or ASQ Quality auditor. She brings more the 25 years of experience in light manufacturing, product development, technical communications, quality insurance management, and continues improvement. As a full time Lean Six Sigma black belt, she led and coached improvement projects in production and business processes to eliminate waste and produce more consistent outcomes. Prior to joining Six Disciplines Consulting Service, Audrey was the Global Director of Quality Insurance for Canberra, an international business unit of Areva, a leader in the energy industry. In addition to strategic advisory services, Audrey has worked with Six Discipline clients using her Lean expertise to review and improve processes, train teams of client employees in Lean and problem solving, run turn key improvement projects, and perform data analytics. Audrey shared her thoughts on the benefits of running Lean in a commercial laundry operation, how Lean can improve safety as well as production, and more.”
Jason Risley: “We are back again with Audrey Carmichael of Six Discipline Consulting Services. We are going to talk today a little bit about Lean Six Sigma. Audrey, can you share with us what is Lean? Can you give us some examples of how Lean can benefit a commercial laundry?“
Audrey Carmichael: “Sure Jason. What we think of today as Lean has its origin in the automotive industry where it’s known as the Toyota Production System. Since then it has evolved to include many tools and best practices. Distilling it down to its essentials, Leans forces is utilizing the talent and creativity of all workers and eliminating waste in processes. Even though Lean started out in manufacturing, its principles can be used in all industries. For example, in the last ten years, the health care industry has been using Lean extensively. Commercial laundries can definitely benefit from a Lean program. It gives you a framework to evaluate all your processes, makes sure they are running as efficiently as possible, and makes sure they are producing the quality output they should. Commercial laundries use Lean in lots of ways: to manage their inventory better, improve the flow through the plant, keep their equipment running longer, reducing rewashes, even improving the interface between departments. At Six Disciplines we started a laundry Lean training and coaching program to help our clients learn more about Lean.”
Audrey Carmichael: “When I implement Laundry Lean for a client I’ll go down two paths simultaneously. I’ll focus on changes in the plan creating visual management systems and a program to improve their processes. And the second path is creating structures for engaging the workforce in continuous improvement efforts. Typically, visual management will be through a system called 5S. 5S is a classic Lean technique to improve workspaces. It helps you to find the flow of work through an area, organize it so it’s as efficient and as safe as possible, and keep it operating that way. Another component of the visual management that I teach is integrated with the daily coaching technics so that each department has clearly posted goals and results and has improvements that they are working on every day. The other part of Lean I start out with is creating a culture of continuous improvement. We train the workforce on problem identification, root cause analysis, basic data analysis and working in cross-functional teams to tackle problems that come up. We don’t want employees just to except the statuesque. For launching the Lean program at a client, I’ll conduct training. Usually, the first group included production managers and supervisors. The executive team should also be trained early on. As an initiative, support from upper management is critical. Ideally, the executive team will have a good strategic plan in place, so that the Lean projects align with their operational objectives.
Jason Risley: “Are there benefits for front line employees as well as managers or the CEO?”
Audrey Carmichael: “For front line employees, they are empowered to identify and help solve problems and make improvements in their daily work. For managers and the CEO, higher productivity, lower cost, and better customer service can be achieved.”
Jason Risley: “If a company doesn’t do follow-ups after the original training is completed, does the positive impact deteriorate over time?”
Audrey Carmichael: “It can, but when a commercial laundry has really implemented Lean, it becomes a part of their DNA. It’s just the way they do things. But to make sure the changes stick, I recommend three remedies. First, the best follow up is continuing to implement Lean principles in the organization and keep running Lean improvement projects. Second, within each Lean project, the last step is to institute a control plan to make sure the changes stick. This could include writing new SOPs or changing the layout of an area. If this isn’t done rigorously there is a tendency to backslide on the gains. Third, as a part of onboarding, make sure new employees learn the Lean principles you’ve put in place. I’d just like to add, that the real power of Lean thinking is that it’s not only a set of tools, it’s a mindset that focuses on the customer and using the talent of your workforce to keep striving for perfection.”
Audrey Carmichael: “Sure. While Lean has its origins in the Toyota Production System, Sigma originated in the United States at Motorola. If we were to use a simple definition of Lean, to reduce or eliminate waste, we can simply define Six Sigma as a way to eliminate or reduce variation in processes. These oversimplifications aren’t all that important. Both Lean and Six Sigma focus on delivering excellence to the customer. In practice, one difference is that Six Sigma deployments tend to focus more on statistical analysis and a structured project management approach. Many organizations use a Six Sigma project management approach when a project is very large and complex and little is known about possible causes. Lean Six Sigma integrates the two approaches and teaches practitioners to use the toolset that best matches the objectives at hand. I think the key is to work with a coach who can help guild you. As a Lean Six Sigma black belt, I’ve had over 200 hours of classroom training and run dozens of projects. Working with someone like me can help you out a lot to determine the best course of action to take.”
Audrey Carmichael: “The training I’ve conducted for commercial laundries is a two to three-day course that focuses on practical use of Lean methods and tools. This is my Laundry Lean yellow belt training. This course covers all of the fundamental Lean methods and has active exercises for students to practice on their own processes. After the class is over, I’ll coach and advise on the projects the students are working on. I’ve also lead projects for clients without having a training class. For example, with one client I’ve done a process mapping and analysis to improve their linen inventory. We pulled the office, service, and production folks together, identified some weakness and gaps in the process, agreed together on solutions and wrote new SOP’s together as a team.”
Audrey Carmichael: “Absolutely. Lean Six Sigmatechnics can be applied to improve safety programs. The structured steps in a project will help you to focus efforts and allow it to have the most impact. You’d follow the problem-solving method to set a goal, look at what data you have available, determine root causes, make the changes, and monitor the results. So if you’ve deployed the 5S system you can add safety walkthrough as a regular part of your Lean program. “
Jason Risley: “Implementing Lean Six Sigma can be a great benefit to your laundry operation and can lead to improvements in both safety and production. If you are interested in implementing Lean in your laundry and have any questions for today’s guest, Audrey Carmichael, feel free to send them to podcast@TRSA.organd we will make sure to follow up. Thanks again to our sponsor Six Disciplines Consulting Services. As always make sure you subscribe, rate, review our show on iTunes, Google Play, and Sticher.”