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Layered Process Audits for Lean

The dreaded layered process audit.

If not completely understood and supported, it could be the highest level of pencil whipping hypocrisy in our factory today.

The intent and purpose of the LPA is to do a formal review of our processes and operating systems. How you respond to your off standard conditions is more important than the content inside the little piece of paper.

I do not agree that more is better. Having every management representative in the building do a weekly LPA does not really mean much to me. If they do not inherently know and understand the shopfloor standards, then the hypocrisy continues……………

If you get a chance, take a good look at the content of your audit and ask yourself what has changed on it over the last 3-5 years? If nothing has changed, then I consider it a passive approach to our continuous improvement cycle. An active approach includes how the information or status is captured. Just checking off the box is passive in nature and supports the pencil whipping culture. An active approach would be to put variable data in the box for an itemized or descriptive input so that we begin to know the standard. A min/max level is one of the simplest examples of which I can think of.

As leaders, we must simplify our shopfloor standards and create a better reality for our team.

Adjusting your LPA process to go deeper on your standardized work methods is more important in solving problems and in getting real engagement from your shopfloor colleagues.

Just asking if the paperwork is “available” is not helping your team get any better.

Kamishibai Boards: Reviewing random or targeted standard work and standard work methods on the shopfloor is one of the most important things you can do as a leader. Coach your staff members to understand the critical processes at the work cell. No doubt that work sequences, cycle times, material handling, and boundary samples all fit into this management window. Please keep it simple. You do not have to go to the thickest Toyota textbook to put your strategy together.

As with all Continuous Improvement approaches, it may take some time. It takes real time to go out to the floor and observe what your operators are doing and how well your machines are running. Do not let your layered process audit only focus on quality systems. Making bad parts is not caused by people who are not filling out their paperwork.

Before LPAs

I remember studying the standard work audits at Nissan when our team got a chance to visit in 1993. It was before Layered Process Audits were even an industry standard. Our visit centered around the Standard Work Audits and how team leaders were training and qualifying their colleagues. I was amazed at how much detail went into the skills matrix and how well the team leaders understood their standard work sheets.

A few years later our manufacturing teams went to study at Denso in Battle Creek, MI. What we came back with is the concept of Control Point Management. These audits were heavy on reviewing the critical inputs of the machines and critical process controls, not just the operators. Plugging in palm pilots every two hours into critical processes then became a type of standard we rolled into our launch systems.

Moving forward, consider managing your building better in 2022. Your team does not like to go through the motions with anything if it is not going to help them get any better. Go deep and not wide and learn how to lead by changing the rules of the game.

Worried about your turnover and attrition of your workforce in today’s market?

Get rid of “Groundhog Day” and watch your colleagues respect your new shopfloor reality.

How effective are your Layered Process Audits?

How much training have you done with your operations team on Standard Work Principles?

How do you respond to your issues during the audit process?

We at Dynamic Improvement Group would love to help you get rid of your “Groundhog Day.

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