Most Expected Lean Methodology Interview Questions In Process Improvement And Their Answers

Individuals possessing Lean Foundation Certification are at the top of the recruiting list of companies. Lean methodology is the most effective way out for enterprises desiring to improve revenue margins. These professionals not only help in improving business efficiency but also establish a new work culture within the organization. An environment where each employee feels equally responsible for making possible improvements in their tasks. Lean Foundation Certified individuals are adept at engaging employees and giving weightage to their opinions.

It is not management but employees who know better about their respective operations and how to improve them. To get used to the lean concepts organizations require a clear understanding of them. Hence, they look for professionals who are well-versed in every little detail. Candidates must undergo hard-core preparation to quickly respond to the questions asked during their selection interviews. Given below are questions from every aspect of lean methodology for a last-minute introspection of one’s acquired knowledge. Recruiters must feel confident about hiring candidates simply by listening to their answers.

Lean 5s are considered the pillars of lean methodology. The five ‘s’ advocate the sustenance of orderliness in daily work schedules and environments. These pillars are the base of lean methodology that facilitates the organization, development, and standardization of processes. This leads to the uninterrupted flow of tasks for reducing in-process inventory, unplanned downtime, and waste. An instance of the benefits gained from lean 5s is dwindling the unnecessary waste of space for the required operation.

‘Muda’ means ‘waste’ in Japanese and must be avoided. Lean Foundation Certified individuals are tactful at talking employees into reducing all possible waste while executing their tasks. At first, these professionals identify the mistakes and tell employees not to repeat them. In case of repetition, they take disciplinary actions. Otherwise, the organization will end up losing both its money and time.

Lean Training makes one realize that transportation is one of the most prominent and common wastes in modern businesses. It is just for the sake of moving the stationary production materials from one place to another. So, it adds no value to the end product. This defect is mostly witnessed in situations when movement takes place between facilities. An effective way of minimizing or eliminating this waste is by the implementation of pull systems. This enables direct delivery of materials to employees as and when needed.

Companies that produce multiple services or products are in the need of pull systems implementation. The ideal way to reap the benefits of these systems is by engaging one in each production line. This resulted in reduced inventory levels and also efficiency in catering to consumer demands. Thus, it is proved that they are very efficacious for waste elimination in businesses.

Lean tools like Kaizen events, A3 reports, and value stream mapping have proved really valuable during their usage. The reason why these tools are effective is that they assist in formulating an organized plan for process enhancement. They even provide valuable data in support of the need to implement such systems. So, it becomes easier to make employees fully realize the significance of using these tools.

Yes, it certainly is. Lean 5s facilitate orderliness and organization which enables one to discard unnecessary items from the workspace. A previous experience of sorting out the supply closet based on the color of the things present there proved fruitful. It is an instance of applying lean 5s that helped in waste reduction by preventing the over-purchase of available supplies. This resulted in cost-effectiveness and made it easier to find things when needed.

It is recommended that manufacturing departments should undergo value-stream analysis once every quarter of a year. This helps in identifying the improvement areas of the production cycle at their initial stages. Ignoring them can become too expensive later to mend for an organization thereby, hampering its business. It is wise to perform the analysis towards a project’s end. The conclusions derived from it can be used as guidelines for rendering the following project flawless.

The best application of continuous improvement in the workplace is by talking employees into it. Small changes create big differences and so does the thought process of individuals at all levels of an organization. The scope of improvement is available at all times but only employees need to recognize it. An effective way to make them realize it is by directly inquiring about their opinion of process improvements.

Individuals possessing Lean Certification first analyze an enterprise’s present state. This is when value-stream mapping comes into play. Next, they create an improvement plan based on the results of the mapping. Once the changes are implemented their progress has to be monitored at regular intervals of time.

Motion, inventory, waiting time, transportation, and overproduction, are the prominent types of waste according to lean methodology. Overproduction is caused by manufacturing a product in a greater quantity than is required. Unnecessary movement of products results in increased transportation. The gap between delivery and production enhances the waiting time. Inventory results from the availability of too many products due to lower consumption leads to dead stock. Motion waste occurs due to the excessive movement of employees in performing their tasks.

The uniqueness of lean methodology lies in its customer-oriented approach to maximizing business efficiency. At the same time, it also emphasizes employee satisfaction and provides a continuous adaptation structure. This enables a business to keep pace with the evolving changes in product standards as per consumer requirements.

Defining a product’s customer value refers to understanding what a consumer actually expects from a product. It often happens that consumers are unable to identify their real requirements in the cases of novel products. Web analytics, demographic information, surveys, and interviews are the techniques used for identifying such needs. These methods help in finding the price along with the mode of delivery desired by consumers.

Waste elimination is followed by close monitoring of an uninterrupted flow of each step to avoid delays. Certain strategies are adopted to ensure the smooth sailing of activities adding value to the end product. These include:
  • Workload levellng
  • Reconfiguration of production steps
  • Employee training
  • Process streamlining
  • Creation of cross-functional departments

A value stream is a sequence of activities involved in a production cycle. The cycle starts from a product’s research to its usage by consumers. An insight into the value stream helps a business in attaining maximum value at the lowest possible waste. It aims to remove materials, features, and processes that don’t contribute to a product’s value.

The first and foremost step to instilling lean thinking into others is through a presentation of this methodology. One must ensure that every other member of the organization understands the benefits of implementing lean. They should realize the significance of the changes following lean implementation. This would ease the challenge of getting everyone aboard.

Throughput is the measurement of work finished within a given time frame. It is a qualitative metric recording the count of activities completed. Cycle time measures the active working hours or minutes in completing a task.

JIT(Just In Time) manufacturing is used for preventing excess inventory and overproduction. It is a key component of lean methodology that helps in minimizing stock. According to this principle, only the materials needed should be purchased. Production in smaller batches as per consumer demand not only reduces inventory but also smoothens the operation.

Mistake-proofing means detecting the causes of errors and preventing them with the help of detection controls. These could be special equipment, tools, or additional inspection methods. All these are done to remove the trace of even the slightest error. Flawless execution saves time that is otherwise wasted in rework.

SMED (Single Minute Exchange Of Dies) is a lean tool. It helps curtail the time wasted during the transfer of the production process from one piece of equipment to another. That doesn’t mean that this wait will be over after a second but not more than 10 seconds, either.

Getting adapted to lean methodology is a daunting task for any organization and might take more than half a year. The visible returns of getting involved in Kaizen activities boost confidence in employees and management members of the enterprise. Besides, repetition of the lean processes automatically starts showing results in no time.

The benefits of SMED are as follows:
  • Better response to consumer demand
  • Improved machine startups
  • Reduced inventory levels
  • Greater schedule flexibility
  • Reduced manufacturing costs

Adding value to a product is important to the extent that meets consumer needs. Any further addition is considered a waste. For instance, painting the walls of a room that will never be used in the future.

The 5S of lean methodology can be described as follows. Shitsuke means ensuring the observance of the other 4s in a disciplined manner. Seiri involves the elimination of instructions, tools, and parts from materials that aren’t required. Seiton refers to the neat arrangement of things remaining after the completion of a process. Seiketsu implies the scheduling of regular cleaning and maintenance of the workspace. Lastly, Seiso refers to organizing the cleanup campaign.

There is only a slight difference between the terms Mura, Muri, and Muda but they are all interconnected. Together they are detrimental to the business health of any organization in manufacturing. Mura means unevenness in the production processes while Muri signifies overburden. Muda is the Japanese name for waste.

Visual interpretation is the best solution to understand any hitch in the process. Concentrating on one step at a time without jumping to the other. The idea is to solve whatever problem is faced in the existing phase. A smooth flow of information is desirable. Trust between the management and the workforce is the key to effective performance.

Lean Principles are Defining value, Value stream mapping, Creating flow, Establishing pull, and Continuous improvement. These principles can be used by any team, in any business, and in every sector to increase workplace productivity.

Value is always determined by the demands of the consumer for a specific product. Businesses should determine what their intended customer values, the most effective way to provide their goods and services, and then figure out the product’s affordable price range.

According to the lean principle, value stream mapping entails listing every stage and associated procedure that transforms a product from raw material to finished goods. Professionals with Lean Foundation Certification should identify the steps involved in producing the product in the design, delivery, customer service, procurement, HR, and administration.

"Pull" refers to the ability of the consumer to obtain the product with a shortened manufacturing cycle, frequently converting months-long waits into weeks. Therefore, using a pull-based system saves money for both the manufacturer/provider and the consumer by eliminating the need for an expensive inventory that has to be addressed.

Kaizen is a Japanese business concept that emphasizes increasing efficiency in the workplace and productivity. It is based on the notion that continual, modest improvements can have a major impact. It also reduces errors, gets rid of waste, increases output, and fosters innovation.

The five principles of Kaizen are Know your customer, Let it flow, Go to Gemba, Empower people, and Be transparent. These principles help increase efficiency in the workplace and productivity.

The acronym DOWNTIME means Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-utilized talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, and extra-processing.

The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle is a four-step problem-solving iterative technique used to enhance company operations, minimize errors and maximize outcomes. It is used to improve any processes and products into smaller parts or development stages and looking for methods to enhance each one.

The principles of Poka Yoke are Elimination, Prevention, Replacement, Facilitation, Detection, Mitigation. Elimination, Prevention, Replacement and Facilitation help prevent the occurrence of mistakes. Detection and Mitigation to lessen the impact of mistakes once they occur.

Transport waste results from excessive or inefficient transportation in production processes. This type of waste leads to damage or loss of materials, increased costs, and a heightened risk of accidents or injuries. Moreover, it prolongs the duration of a product's progression through its production process.

Poka-yoke is the technique used for avoiding simple human errors at work. It entails creating a procedure that allows to either completely prevent errors or make evident for quick rectification. Poka-yoke reduces waste by getting rid of or cutting down on quality errors that result in scrap and rework.

The three main types of poka-yoke are:
  • Contact method
  • Fixed-Value method
  • Motion-step method

The tools of Kaizen are Poka-Yoke, 5S, Value Stream Mapping, JIT, Kanban, PDCA Cycle and Gemba Walk. These tools help to drive continuous improvement in processes, products, and services.

The steps to implement mistake-proofing are identifying the problem, finding the source of the problem, determining the best poka-yoke control for the problem, choosing the appropriate poka-yoke error detection technique for the task, training employees, and assessing the effectiveness of the poka-yoke methods.

Poka-yoke contributes to a decrease in errors in the workplace. Team members' procedures get more efficient as they spend less time correcting errors and flaws. They are therefore better able to finish assignments and fulfill deadlines.

Contact Poka-Yoke: This level focuses on preventing defective products from advancing to the next operation or reaching the customer. Shutout or Warning Poka-Yoke : It entails informing operators when a problem has occurred using warnings like lights, sirens, or other signals. Information Poka-Yoke: This is the highest level of Mistake-Proofing and includes all the measures taken to make sure the error doesn't arise in the first place.

Poka Yoke uses mechanisms that are kept in close touch with the part to detect any departure in shapes, dimensions, forms, location, or other physical features. It is employed when a product's physical attributes need to be examined to make sure there are no flaws/ errors.

Poka-Yoke was developed by Shigeo Shingo, a Japanese industrial engineer the concept of mistake-proofing or error prevention in processes. It is used to eliminate errors, improve safety for workers, and efficiency of businesses.

Poka-Yoke helps in identifying potential errors or unsafe behaviors and implementing measures to prevent them. It provides immediate warnings when an unsafe condition is detected, allowing the organization to take corrective action promptly.

The fixed-value poka-yoke method involves warning a worker when a predetermined number of activities are not completed. The technique uses automated counters or optical sensors to regulate the quantity, speed, and duration of movements.

Unreliable processes, unpredictable production schedules, inaccurate demand forecasts, unclear client demands, inadequate automation, and prolonged or delayed setup times are among the common causes of overproduction.

Examples of common motion waste are Poor workstation layout, Poor production planning, Poor process design, Shared equipment and machines, Siloed operations and Lack of production standards.

Unutilized talent occurs when management in a manufacturing environment fails to utilize the skills/ talents of their potential employee. This waste arises when a business assigns employees to non-value-added jobs that do not improve value or make the most of their skills and abilities.

The different departments in 5S Foundation are Operations, Quality, Maintenance, Engineering, and Human Resources. These departments within an organization play specific roles in the implementation of 5S.

The human resources department is in responsible for providing best practices and 5S Foundation principles training to staff members. By fostering a culture of continuous development, they make sure that the 5S Foundation is maintained throughout time.