Service Industry Lean Manufacturing – Implementation Guide

Non-manufacturing industries have not embraced lean manufacturing to the same extent as those producing a product. Some service industries have found the same principles apply, although the use of lean manufacturing tools is different.

For example, a value added analysis is just as easily conducted with a worker talking on the telephone as someone using one.

The 5S tool can be used to organize the surroundings in the telemarketing office. All materials the telemarketer uses should be organized and within reach without having leave the area. This 5S organization enables the telemarketer to continuously utilize any material in front of them as well as keep an eye on a computer.

The same SMED tools can be used with a administrative assistant as a machine operator. The process map and movement will show the waste in each. The assistant’s travel shows the motion waste. The waiting waste is often huge in any white collar or service job. For example, the waste from waiting on a colleague, manager, supplier, or anyone else can be eliminated. There are ways to minimize it by removing the root cause as well as finding activities to fill the time. These activities should be of short duration, such as data entry, filing, or printing.

Line balancing is easy in a service environment. The key is flexibility. For example, two tellers at a bank may be required 6 out of 8 hours per day, but the trained lean expert or industrial engineer is required to notice it. The additional two hours of waste comes in buckets of 1-2 minutes throughout the day. Again, this time must be filled with value added activities in a standard work format. If the job isn’t standardized, the two individuals may absorb the time and appear 100% busy. There are many other instances where job combinations are obvious.

The value stream map is an excellent tool for service industries. Rather than the traditional macro level view of the system, the value stream map can be used in a department or area of the business. An example would be the service desk at a department store. Begin with the information flow and trigger for activity, which might be a customer. Break the map into various segments showing the few activities that comprise 90% of the work, such as returned goods, request for information, or complaints. Standardized Operations should be utilized for returned goods to minimize motion and waiting, such as a decision flow diagram. If the manager is called a large percentage of the time, the decision flow diagram needs improved. Obviously the 5S and SMED tools are also relevant, as well as root cause problem solving to eliminate the complaints.

Service industries often use kanbans without knowing it, such as ordering supplies. The same pull systems can be used in service industries as the manufacturing sector. The supply distribution center is one obvious example. Inventory waste can be eliminated using pull systems beginning with the end downstream customer.

When implementing lean manufacturing in a service industry, it is important to tailor the training to the business. Most SMED (single minute exchange of die) training is developed using examples of setup activities for equipment. It is easier for people to understand and see the waste in their processes when the training has obvious applicability.

One of the best long term lean manufacturing tools to apply in a service industry is the kaizen event. Kaizen means “incremental improvement” in Japanese. The kaizen team is comprised of a cross functional team developed to quickly and substantially improve a business issue. For example, a kaizen might be developed to reduce hospital check in time for testing. The team might include the individuals conducting the check-in, a nurse, manager, an IT representative, and a couple customers. If the average check in time is 35 minutes (the elapsed time from walking into the building until seated in a private room), the kaizen objective might be to reduce the check in time to 20 minutes within 5 days.

Cellular manufacturing can be used in many service businesses. Rather than placing individual pieces of equipment such as the postage meter, copier, fax, and file drawer throughout the area for everyone to use (and wait on), consider placing these items together in a U shaped cell to minimize movement.

The “One Piece Flow” concept is a great tool for processing items such as quotes, bills, or mail pieces. For example, if four people must review a quote, and the first person processes 500 prior to moving to the second individual, and so on, the cycle time is going to be very long. Also, if the fourth person notices a mistake the other three missed, all 500 are bad and much labor was spent unnecessarily. Moving the piece in a flow of “one” or in small batches minimizes the error cost and reduces cycle time.

Service industries have a terrific opportunity to reduce waste. Sometimes it is simple and obvious, while other times it takes the same creativity as in the factory.

Communication Strategies to Avoid Communication Breakdown

What actually matters in the chain of communication is whether the sender and the receiver are in sync and on the same wavelength. If that is the case then there is never going to be any communication breakdown that occurs.

There might have been times when you communicated something to someone and the person nodded sagely. You felt that the person had understood exactly what you wanted. But, alas, the end product was not something that you had in mind. So much for being a good communicator! In order for communication to flow smoothly and seamlessly, the starting point of the communication chain, the sender must take the ownership and responsibility of being an able and effective communicator.

The sender does not only have to draft the message but, must also consider how it is going to be received by the recipient and how will the message be interpreted. The entire chain of communication that starts from the sender does not end until the receiver has understood perfectly what you are trying to convey and also generated enough feedback for the sender, by means of action or a communication.

The objective behind communication is to create an understanding amongst both the parties involved and what outcome is required. In the communication model there has to be a two way communication between the sender and the receiver. Same is the case with the sharing of the responsibilities too. The onus lies on both of them to try and get it right, the very first time.

The sender on their part must be crisp and precise in their communication. The sender must convey relevant information in a coherent manner.

The receiver on their part must be an active listener and must be able to comprehend exactly what the sender is trying to convey. In case of any questions, they must seek clarification before doing what they feel the sender requires. Also, the receiver must never try and assume things. In case of any doubts it is always best to check with the sender from whom the communication commenced. This will spare them a lot of heartache and trouble later on.

As human beings we have embedded filters that we use to allow only what we want to hear to come our way. Therefore, what we hear is what we want to hear and not what the opposite person might have wanted us to hear. As a sender, you can cross check to find out if the message you conveyed has been interpreted on the opposite side exactly as you wanted it to be.

Poor communication can result in a lot of discord, errors and misunderstandings all around you. These can be avoided if the intent is made known clearly by the sender, in clear and specific language, with no room for ambiguity. Therefore, the sender must state clearly what they want and mean. The receiver on their part must seek clarification of the sender’s intent when uncertain. The receiver on their part must have good questioning skills to fall back on.

Hence, clear communication techniques are a must for all concerned.

Radioactive Iodine Treatment and Your Immune System

I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer in March of 2008. I was only 27 years old at the time, and in complete shock. I decided to get checked on a whim because my older sister was diagnosed the previous year (even though papillary thyroid cancer isn’t always hereditary). I had absolutely no symptoms and I was told that it was caught very early. My surgery for the removal of my thyroid was scheduled immediately. I was informed that I would have to undergo radioactive iodine treatment shortly after my surgery in order to destroy any thyroid tissue left behind. This is a routine procedure following a thyroidectomy (an operation that involves the surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland).

Approximately four months after your radioactive iodine treatment your doctor will order a blood test to calculate your thyroglobulin level. Small amounts of thyroglobulin are normal in those with normal thyroid function.

Thyroglobulin levels should be undetectable or very low after the surgical removal of the thyroid (thyroidectomy) and/or after subsequent radioactive iodine treatments. If levels are still detectable, there may be normal or cancerous thyroid tissue remaining in the person’s body, indicating the need for additional treatment.

In most cases, the patient is only required to undergo radioactive thyroid treatment one time following the thyroidectomy. But, here I am, two years later completing my third round of radioactive iodine treatment. My thyroglobulin level was still at 14. My doctor wants me to be under 1. The radioactive iodine treatment itself isn’t very difficult. My doctor educated me on what to expect before (low iodine diet) and during my short hospital stay for treatment. What I wasn’t informed about was the effects that the treatment would have on my immune system in the coming months.

Following my first two radioactive iodine treatments I was constantly sick. It ranged from the common cold to pneumonia (pneumonia is NOT fun). I was spending hundreds of dollars a month on primary care doctor visits, and prescription medications. I was also losing money because of my constant absence at work. I would only feel “healthy” a couple of weeks at a time here and there.

This went on for about 7 to 9 months following my first radioactive iodine treatment. I was finally getting back to my old self again to find that I had to do a second treatment the anniversary month of my surgery. Then the “sickness cycle” began all over again. I tried so many different immune boosters after my second treatment but nothing worked.

Finally, just after my third round of treatment this past January, I found something that worked. AND it was an all natural product which was the best part. It’s been four months since my third (and hopefully final) radioactive iodine treatment and I haven’t had so much as a sniffle! I can not believe how much better I have felt these past four months compared to the past two years! I am writing to share my experience with others in hopes that I may help in some way. Click on my link below for more information on how to boost your immune system for those tough times ahead. I’ll also share with you two low iodine recipes that I wouldn’t have made it through with out!!

All About ASAP, FYI and FYA

ONE day, a collegeague turned to me and asked, "What's FYI?"

"For your information."

"What's FYA?"

"For your action."

"What's WRT? "

"With reference to …"

Before the conversation dragged on any further, I quickly looked up a website on acronyms used in business communications and sent it to him via e-mail.

This conversation made me realize that the full meaning of many acronyms and abbreviations may not be immediately obvious for many people – students or working adults alike.

For starters, an acronym is a word created from combining the initial letters of each word. For example, For your action.

An abbreviation is a word shortened from its original form. For example, "Attn." is an abbreviation of the word "attention" to convey the meaning "for the attention of".

In general, a full stop is used for abbreviations where the last letter of the word and the abbreviation are not the same. For example, "Co." (Company) needs a full stop but "Ltd" (Limited) does not. Acronyms do not need punctuation marks.

Below are some frequently used short forms in business communication like e-mails, faxes and letters:

aka . – also known as

On Monday morning, Kay El, aka The Boss, walked in happily and blessed her assistant, Pee Jay.

approx. – approx

Checking her e-mail, Pee Jay read, "Today is the boss's birthday. Can everyone please slip off quietly to the cafeteria in approx. 15 minutes?"

ASAP – as soon as possible

Pee Jay opened up her daily planner and scribbled ASAP next to some of the urgent items on her to-do list.

Attn . – for the attention of

Leafing through the stack of mail to be sent out, Pee Jay asked her boss, "To what should I address the cheque for the annual report?"

Her boss replied, "Just write 'Attn: Ms. Christine Jalleh." She'll know what to do with it. "

Bcc . – blind carbon copy or blind copy to. In this case, the carbon copy is sent to an e-mail recipient which e-mail address is not visible to the cc or other bcc recipients.

"By the way, I think it's better if you bcc me in your e-mail to Brown. We would not want him thinking that I'm supervising you for this project."

Cc . – carbon copy, or copy to

"But I would like to be cc-ed on the e-mail to Mr Green as I have not yet introduced the two of you to each other."

c / o – in care of, used when sending a document to A who will receive it on B's because because B is away from the office.

"Boss, I think Christine is back in China this week. Would it be all right if I sent the cheque in care of her assistant? I'll still write her name on top with c / o Ah Sis Tern below."

COD – cash on delivery, where a person makes payment for an item purchase after it has been delivered.

"I'm also sending out the cheque for the set of Business English reference books we bought COD on eBay."

eg . – exempli gratia (for example)

Pee Jay replied to the e-mail, "Hi everyone. Please remember that the boss does not like surprises, eg everyone shouting 'Surprise!' in the cafeteria. "

et al. – et alii (and others). Usually used to list co-authors after the lead author in a bibliography, this form is now commonly used to address the other people other than the recipient in e-mails.

She received a new e-mail, which read, "Dear Pee Jay et al., I was reminded that the boss does NOT like surprises …"

etc. – et cetera (and so on OR and so forth)

This means that we will not be able to collectively surprise her by springing out of the cafeteria doors as we had planned, etc.

exc. – except

"Can everyone, exc. Pee Jay, be at the cafeteria in 5 minutes? We need to figure out a surprise without the surprise element.

FYI – for your information

Her boss's voice bought the young assistant back to the present, "Pee Jay, I'm forwarding you all these e-mails FYI, okay?"

FYA – for your action

"Note that some of these e-mails are FYA …"

ie . – id est (that is)

After acknowledging her supervisor, Pee Jay decided to help her collections out and typed, "She's in a good mood today, ie we will be a new account and completed a major project."

K – thousand, eg 450K = 450,000

"Just to give you an idea of ​​her mood, it's a 450K retainer for the first quarter …"

PA – personal assistant

The immediate reply to Pee Jay's e-mail read, "Thanks for the info, Pee Jay – you're the best PA!"

pa – per annual (per year)

Pee Jay smiled and responded, "Haha, there is a reason why I'm paid RM65K pa"

pp – per pro (used when signing a document on someone's behalf)

Looking back at her paperwork, Pee Jay signed some invoices on her boss's behalf, inserting pp just before her signature.

Pto. – please turn over, used at the end of a page to indicate that there is a continuity to the text.

"By the way, please remember to type Pto. On the first page of the proposal you're sending.

viz . – videlicet, namely

She got up and left a note on Pee Jay's work station before leaving. Scribbled on it was, "Can I pass you my slice of birthday cake after I cut it? I really do not need a lot of carbo, viz. Refined flour, at my age." The note ended with a wink.

Readers can go to to search for the meanings of over 4 million acronyms and abbreviations. This online dictionary also allows users to filter their search according to categories like information technology (IT), military and government, business and finance, science and medicine, organizations and schools, and slang and pop culture.