Standard Work
Pages Appendix1 Appendix2 References
Standard Work Standard Operations


What is a Standard Operation?



What is it used for?

! Training of staff

! A means of standardisation

! A platform for improvements

! Safe working practices

! A tool to help manage the workplace

! An audit document


How we develop the Standard Operation

• Select Operation

• Record data of Operation

• Analyse the operation

• Develop the best current method

• Confirmation stage

• Identify Main Steps

• Identify Key Points

• Write the Standard Operation

Select Operation

Job Selection - Criteria to take into consideration

" Ease / Difficulty of Manufacture

" Inconsistencies manufacturing times

" Inconsistencies in Quality

" High Labour Turnover

" High accident rates

" Excessive handling of materials

Record Data of Operation


When recording the present situation, direct observation is the

preferred method, but information can also be collected from :-

- Historical Records

- Interviews etc. Useful methods of recording include :-

- Flow Process Charts

- Video etc.

……the potential savings MUST justify the cost of investigation

Analyse the Operation

• Gather all the relevant paperwork

• Ensure all parts & tooling are at hand

• Watch operation being performed

(across all shifts where possible)

• Ask for the operators inputs

• Is there a sequence

• Take rough notes

Develop the best method

• Question what we are doing & when

• If there are differences between shifts which one gives us more benefits?

• Consider applying the 4 principles of

motion economy

Reduce motions

Perform motions simultaneously

Reduce distances/effort

Make motion easier

• Can the operators follow the Standard Operation safely?

Confirmation Stage

• Try to perform the task using the rough notes

• This should be carried out in the production environment where possible as a trial

Identify Main Steps

• A task title

• This will allow the task to be broken down into smaller sections

Identify Key Points

A Key point is a part of the operation, which if not adhered to could impact on




Writing a Standard Operation

• Keep everything clear and concise

• Write in pen

• Avoid waffling

• Avoid using Technical terms

• Use recognised and agreed abbreviations

• Use sketches / photos

• Do not assume prior knowledge

Why should we maintain Standard Operations?

• To ensure it is being followed

• To ensure it is still the best current method

• Are there any changes to the spec?

How to train others to Standard Operations

There are Six Steps to follow



Standard work:

The basis for continuous improvement

By Mark Steward
If you were to ask an operator or even some leaders what standard work meant to them, you may get responses such as “standard operating procedures”, “work Instructions” or “check sheets” - and these are all legitimately correct answers. What you may not get is that standard work is the basis for driving all continuous improvement actions.“Where there is no standard, there can be no kaizen.”
-Taiichi OhnoThis can be a statement often overlooked as companies work to improve their performance. The initial attempt to quickly resolve issues so that the team can feel action being taken may overlook the essential part of continuous improvement - root cause analysis.An important part of truly understanding the relationship of variables on a process comes from stabilizing the effects of changes made to improve it. Traditionally, one may view the lack of this understanding in Figure 1 below.


The intent here is to quickly take care of issues by putting into action what we believe to be the fixes necessary to the process. This type of “fire-fighting” usually results in busy activities which may not be truly focused on the larger root causes apparent in the process.

Applying standard work to the process and understanding the effect of changes allows better learning for the operators and leaders. The affect of this method is presented in Figure 2 below.


The critical component in this effort is using tools such as a fishbone diagram or creating a Pareto chart to detail and quantify the issues. The diligence and discipline of executing this is necessary for acceptance and use in your discovery of root cause analysis. The activity may, at times, be painful to start, but the benefits in learning by all will certainly outweigh the costs and become welcome place and expected by everyone.

The key is to understand the important variables for which you wish to measure. As you stabilize and improve your process, you will understand the barriers that had traditionally kept you from meeting your expectations. Remember, as Taiichi Ohno pointed out, “Where there is no standard, there can be no kaizen.”

Standardized Work


In Lean Manufacturing, you must fight your current thinking when it comes to the conventional wisdom of work standards. In doing so, you may make the leap to a different understanding of Standardized Work. These mental gymnastics are very difficult to achieve through shop floor practice however; mainstream Standardized Work training is very limited and current business trends tend to follow the mainstream. It is an uphill battle for Lean practitioners to work at implementing true standard work.

Here is what we know about Standardized Work (SW) based on Toyota literature:

  1. Standardized Work is ideally never static,
  2. Standardized Work is based on three components:
    1. Takt time, or the rate of customer demand,
    2. Work Sequence, the order each step should occur,
    3. Standard Work-In-Process, or the among of materials used to prevent overproduction.
  3. Standardized Work is best maintained by the authority closest to the process, preferably the supervisor./li>
  4. Standardized Work is the preferred shop floor management tool.

What does all of this have to do with TWI? First Job Methods (JM) gets to the root of some of the standard work components, particularly work sequence. When we think of work sequence in JM, we talk about staffing levels, who does the work at each step, layout, etc. In other words, JM helps us improve work cells and workflow. Standard WIP is mostly controlled through achieving single piece flow (minimal WIP) or through the use of kanban (signals which authorize a predetermined level of inventory based on demand [takt time] and work cell capacity.

Standardized work has long been documented in the form of industrial engineering principles for many years. The difference in Lean, is that very few people know how to apply it to non-assembly or non-discrete manufacturing applications. This fact alone is evidence that many people don’t understand SW and the resulting action of mostly cherry picking the Lean tools adapted from the Toyota Production System. Mis-understanding of standardized work then, is one of the root causes of why it is so difficult to sustain Lean in U.S. companies. As Taiichi Ohno is often quoted as declaring: “Without a standard, there is no kaizen.”

It has been argued in recent years however, that the main root cause for not sustaining lean through standardized work, is the lack of a critical component of the concept. It is relatively easy to calculate takt time, implement kanban and impose work & time standards on people. It is quite another to understand if everyone is doing the job the same way. If we go through the trouble to establish SW because we are “lean”, then why do we not go through the trouble to determine best methods, capture the methods, and train people in those methods? Why, then do we “audit” people in adhering to the work sequence when they can’t meet takt, when instead we should be pulling out the Job Breakdown Sheet (JBS) and coaching and questioning the person through opportunities to improve their ability or improve the work methods? We have a lot to learn about Standardized Work in this country. Standard work is not a piece of paper, it is the way to meet business needs by engaging the people that do the work.


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