A Virtual Learning Tool Design Using Lean Principles

A Virtual Learning Tool Design Using Lean Principles

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4062-5.ch003


A virtual learning tool that allows users to explore and learn the basic principle of warehousing operations using an avatar is described in this chapter. Several steps are utilized during the conception and the design phase of the application to ensure a well-built quality system. An analysis of a commonly used Lean Six Sigma principle such as the Plan-Do-Check-Act is presented to show its impacts on the conception and design of the virtual warehousing operation environments. Also, other lean principles are infused in the design of the system to ensure its user-friendliness through the use of regular tasks in an online learning environment. The use of the Plan-Do-Check-Act in the design process ensures an increased efficiency, improved quality, and better experience to potential users of the simulated warehousing operations.
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Lean is a management philosophy that focuses on the reduction of the seven wastes (overproduction, waiting time, transportation, processing, inventory, motion, and scrap) in manufacturing production and processes. By eliminating waste, quality is improved, and production time and cost are reduced. Lean process improvements occur as a result of the following basic five key steps such as studying the process by directly observing the work activities and their flow, studying the process to systematically eliminate wasteful activities and their flow, coming to an agreement among those affected by the process regarding what needs to be accomplish and how, attacking and solving problems using a systematic method, and integrating the above approach throughout the organization. After applying these steps, following through with the right lean tool is essential (Bhasin and Burcher, 2006).

Lean Tools

The frequently used lean tools include Kaizen, Value Stream Process mapping, 5 S, Kanban, Error Proofing, Prevention and predictive maintenance, Set-up time reduction, reduce lot sizes, Line-balancing, Schedule leveling, standardized work, and visual management. Kaizen seeks to standardize work processes while eliminating waste using combine, simplify and eliminate as guiding words. Value Streams are actions required to create a product or service from raw material until it reaches the customer. They also seek to capture the activities taking place while people and the process are running. The 5-S creates a work environment that is clean, well organized and efficient. Kanban is a pull inventory management that improves process management by focusing on visual control of the process. Error Proofing seeks to improve a worker’s ability to do their job by improving the processes. In Preventive and predictive maintenance the preventive stage maintains the equipment in good condition so that unexpected downtimes don’t occur. Predictive maintenance schedules routine maintenance so that everyone knows and can plan for a machine or a piece of equipment being unavailable (Tetteh and Uzochukwu, 2014).

Setup time is the time between the productions of the last good part in one series of parts to the first good part in the next series of parts. Efforts find ways to eliminate waste in setups thus speeding up the process of setup. Reduced batch sizes allow each piece as it is created to flow from one operation to the next with no delays, storages, or work-in-process inventories. Line Balancing occurs when work is performed by each operator evenly over time with no peaks or valleys. Each worker or machine has the same amount of time, so no one person or machine is waiting for something to do or having to hurry up to keep up. Schedule Leveling establishes a program which allows the same amount to be produced daily with minimal fluctuations in demand. Standardized work comes up with a standardized operating procedure so that a job is done in the same way. Finally, Visual Management enables someone looking at a job or workspace and knows at a glance that something has been misplaced or mismanaged. With these Lean tools and techniques, a company will be able to run more efficiently getting rid of their waste. (Parry and Turner, 2006)

Six Sigma

Motorola developed the Six Sigma principles in 1980. These principles are considered to be a business strategy concept and management philosophy that sets a high standard of discipline in meeting extremely high objectives by collecting data and analyzing results to an almost zero-degree of tolerance as a way of reducing waste, defects, and irregularities in both products and services (Raisinghani, et Al, 2005). Six Sigma is a statistical concept that represents the amount of variation present relative to customer requirements or specifications. The methodologies were created by Bill Smith, who was an engineer for Motorola. He came up with this principle because of the increasing complexity of systems and products used by consumers created higher than desired system failure rates. The benefits of adopting Six Sigma are that it will enhance the ability to provide value to the customer, increase understanding of the primary business processes, will reduce waste and improve profit performance. The goal of Six Sigma is to reach 3.4 defects per million opportunities over the long term while also seeking to reduce any variability present in the process (Lucas, 2002). An improvement in just one sigma can result in a ten-fold reduction in the number of defects. At three sigma, 66,800 defects per million costing $10 per piece to fix would equal $668,000. (Barone and Franco, 2012)

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