Creating Continuous Flow

Mike Rother and Rick Harris, Lean Enterprise Institute, PO Box 9, Brookline, MA 02446, 2001, 282 pp., $50 (book).

Creating Continuous Flow: An Action Guide for Managers, Engineers and Production Associates is a no-nonsense, show and tell guide that makes real sense. It shows you lean tools and how to use them in achieving continuous flow.

Apex Tube, a fictional company, is introduced to demonstrate the concepts, techniques and tools. The journey begins with a detailed process map of Apex truck fuel lines. In its present state, Apex is showing a production lead time of 22.8 days and a processing time of only 178 seconds. Apex management creates a continuous flow cell, reducing the production lead time to 10 days with the same processing time. Apex discovers there is still wide variation between the actual and planned production. Takt time, process studies and operator balance charts are some of the tools and concepts Apex uses to get better results.

The plan-do-check-act model is used to implement the new process design. Auditing the changed process, sustaining the flow and improvement are also discussed. The large-size pages and comb binding make it easy to see and use the diagrams, charts and tables. A useful summary ties all the learning points together.

Russ Westcott R.T.
Westcott & Associates
Old Saybrook, CT


Designing Organizations

Jay R. Galbraith, Jossey-Bass, 989 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94103, 2001, 197 pp., $35 (book).

In Designing Organizations: An Executive Guide to Strategy, Structure and Process, Galbraith describes the different types of organizational hierarchies and emphasizes designing an organization to best serve the customer's needs. As he points out, organizational development is often an art rather than a science and can be challenging when you're searching for the right mix of structure and flexibility. He uses examples from Motorola, 3M and Toyota to illustrate how the different organizational structures operate and function.

Galbraith bases his organizational design method around a model he developed called the star model. The star model is named after the shape of the five interconnected categories that form the five points of the star. He uses the star model as the basis for the design of any organizational structure.

The book is well written and has easy to understand examples and flowcharts. The author takes the complex and often frustrating task of organizational structure and gives it a logical methodology. I think the book would be excellent for executives and managers trying to reorganize their companies to better serve the customer.

Eric Furness
Derco Aerospace


Managing Six Sigma

Forrest W. Breyfogle, James M. Capello and Becki Meadows, John Wiley and Sons, 605 Third Ave., New York, NY 10158-0012, 2001, 272 pp., $50 (book).

Managing Six Sigma: A Practical Guide to Understanding, Assessing and Implementing the Strategy That Yields Bottom-Line Success emphasizes a holistic approach to the application of Six Sigma. Considerable effort is made to encourage a systemic approach that looks at whole processes rather than individual procedures and that identifies defects in or areas for improvement in these processes. The practice of "firefighting" is cited as counterproductive.

On a side note, the book includes an invitation from the authors to evaluate the book, either by mail or by visiting their Web site.

The book goes beyond the standard text on Six Sigma to address organizational and managerial needs on implementing this valuable tool.

William F. Foster
Dogbyte Co.
Vienna, VA


Engineering Documentation Control Handbook, Second Edition

Frank B. Watts, William Andrews Publishing, 13 Eaton Ave., Norwich, NY 13815, 2001, 376 pp., $72 (book).

In his book, Watts proposes configuration management (CM) is the key to avoiding the kind of departmental tunnel vision that prevents a company from getting its collective act together. He defines CM as the "bridge between design engineering and the rest of the world." The CM system is made up of four processes: product and bill of materials, product and documentation release, change request and design change.

The book has a plethora of details and examples to illuminate the subjects covered. Rules and reasons are carefully laid out so a company can train its people on the hows and whys of a CM system. An important point is that a company should not develop a CM system based on International Organization for Standardization (known as ISO) or other standards. Watts suggests a company devise the CM system to be as efficient and effective as possible and compare it with ISO 9000 based standards only to make sure all of its elements are covered sufficiently.

The book is a good reference for a new company wanting to practice CM before functional silos have an opportunity to develop. One weakness is there are many companies that don't have the manpower to staff all the CM functions Watts identifies. It might be beneficial to have an abbreviated "CM for Dummies" section for small mom and pop companies.

Jeff Stevens
CCL Custom Mfg.
Cumberland, RI


ISO 9001:2000 Guidelines for the Chemical and Process Industries, Third Edition

ASQ Chemical and Process Industries Division and Chemical Interest Committee, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2002, 139 pp., $28 member, $35 list (book).

This edition provides the exact wording of the revised standard, identifies what is new, interprets the intent of the clauses and furnishes suggestions for implementing simple processes within a quality system that will meet the standard's requirements.

One of the things I found exasperating in this version was the practice of referring to the old standard and its requirements without quoting the old standard. In some instances I could not make the correlation because I couldn't remember the exact phrasing of the previous standard. Since the new standard changes the clause numbering of many requirements, a three-column table summarizing the requirement (topic) and the old and new clause numberings would have been helpful.

The authors have done an excellent job of interpreting the standard and its application to processing in "vats, vessels, pipes and smokestacks" as opposed to making widgets and whatsits. The book is well-written and easy to follow. It systematically dissects and covers the entire revised standard. Quality managers should find it invaluable.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Interox


Performance Measurement Explained

Bjorn Andersen and Tom Fagerhaug, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2002, 188 pp., $26 member, $32.50 list (book).

The authors present material much broader than the measurement of performance, recognizing measurement is always part of a larger system that must be understood if measurement is to have meaning. So it is commendable they cover such issues as management vs. leadership, the psychology of measuring people's performance, strategic planning and business process.

But as I read this book, I was reminded of other books in which a particular topic was better treated. The Leadership Handbook (Peter Scholtes) is superior on management vs. leadership. Improvement and problem solving models are better treated in Improving Performance Through Statistical Thinking from the ASQ Statistics Division.

What I like about the book Performance Measurement Explained: Designing and Implementing Your State-of-the-Art System is its recognition of the role of measurement in a system and its organization based on that concept. The book, however, contains some unfortunate language. A "control limit" is described as the "lower level of accepted performance." This term is generally used in the context of statistical process control and control charts with a different definition. The explanations of "trend" and "trend analysis" are weak and likely to reinforce their misuse. Key terms, such as variation, control charts, planning and plan-do-study-act, are missing from the index (and text). Two of W. Edwards Deming's books are cited awkwardly as one title, causing me to wonder if the authors are unfamiliar with his work.

The authors do a credible job of explaining how to set up a functional performance measurement system, but the big picture they attempt to deliver is in need of help.

Steven Byers
Western Institutional Review Board
Olympia, WA


Quality Audits for ISO 9001:2000

Tim O'Hanlon, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2002, 260 pp., $35 member, $44 list (book).

The author of Quality Audits for ISO 9001:2000: Making Compliance Value Added has done an outstanding job of emphasizing and presenting the necessary tools for making the audit process move toward being a more value added process rather than a traditional compliance based process.

Some beneficial features of the book include:

  • Tree diagrams to show how each section of ISO 9001:2000 is structured.

  • An 82 question and answer commentary on some of the major changes in ISO 9001:2000.

  • A criteria based checklist for each section of ISO 9001:2000.

  • An easy to understand flowchart for raising and documenting a nonconformity finding during an audit.

  • Ways to improve the corrective action process, from a quick fix to a cost effective business improvement approach.

The author has also included his vision with a chapter on the future of auditing. A step by step typical action plan is included in the appendix for companies considering implementing ISO 9001:2000.

I was impressed with the author's no-nonsense approach to this subject. He tells it like it is.

Wayne Sander
Dove Quality Consulting
Dousman, WI

Thermochemical Processes

C.B. Alcock, Butterworth-Heinemann, 225 Wildwood Ave., Woburn, MA 01801-2041, 2001, 386 pp., $95 (book).

Thermochemical Processes: Principles and Models covers kinetic and transport theory in high temperature chemical reactions. The text provides quantitative descriptions and application examples in the processing and degradation of metallic and other inorganic material from the atomic level to the analysis of industrial processes.

This is complex material, and the author tends to assume the reader has a solid background in basic thermodynamics and physical chemistry. In most chapters, I found myself immediately deep into the subject matter with little development or background information. The author provides a detailed table of contents, index, chapter bibliographies, figures and tables to enhance the usefulness of the book as a reference.

This book will be of interest to students in the fields of materials science and chemical engineering, particularly those interested in modeling high temperature industrial processes. Engineering, process and production professionals in the semiconductor industry will find it an excellent reference.

Bryan Ruggles
Sanden International, USA
Allen, TX

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