NHI started the lean journey 2 years ago with 6s, TPM, Setup Reduction and Value Stream Mapping.

We have continued to evolve with the lean principles and now have incorporated the Obeya concept. What is Obeya and what does it stand for? It is a Japanese term for "big room" or "great room." Obeya is a lean manufacturing tool, in which a dedicated room is set aside for employees to meet and have discussions about specific topics or problems. How does this work? We invite everyone that has a stake in the daily operations, including Quality, Safety, Planning, Engineering, Material handling, Team leaders, Maintenance, Shipping, and Senior Management. This is a must attend meeting. Our team meets twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon. We have multiple white boards that are set up with Production Cell, Priority of the machine, Safety, Quality, Productivity Charts, Down time, Hot issues, Maintenance Priority, Action items, other issues across the top. Machine numbers are listed down the left side.

Magnets with photos are used to assign tasks so a face can go with a name. Green, Yellow, and Red tags are used for levels of concern for each category. Numbers for the priorities 1-22 are used to determine which machine is the highest priority. Magnetic pegs are used for the staffed column, Green for (machine staffed), Blue for (not planned) Red for (planned, but not covered).

The meeting starts by reviewing each board and going through the machine number priority, Safety, Quality, Productivity, Down issues, Hot issues, Maintenance priority, and other action items there are. There may be a discussion on any concerns with that line item and anyone involved will be expected to discuss and help to break down roadblocks. If the item cannot be resolved at that time, then it is assigned to someone for the afternoon meeting for an update. This process is repeated until all machines have been covered. Once covered, the planners and team leaders stay on and go over machine priorities to make changes according to the workload and demand for each work center. With this completed, the schedule is set for the day. We repeat the steps stated above in the afternoon with 2nd shift leads joining the meeting to ensure their priorities are set for the night.

The Obeya process allows us to have better communication at all levels, along with team alignment, and team participation throughout the organization. This will allow our company to be successful as we grow.

— Scott Lancor, Production Manager

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