The concept of flow is a key element in achieving lean operations. This fact has not gone unnoticed by laboratories but many still struggle to achieve real flow and very often the final review and release of samples can prove to be somewhat of a bottle neck. The final review and release tasks should not be thought of as being autonomous or decoupled from the testing process and should be incorporated in the flowed process.
Dedication of resources may seem like a good way to have “Subject Matter Experts” (SMEs) get through work quickly, but it gives rise to a costly productivity penalty. The antidote is to level the workload across the team (without compromising the important role of the SME!).
QC test methods and the overall testing approach employed in laboratories can themselves be inherently wasteful. What steps should be taken to identify and eliminate such waste?
Lean originated in the automotive industry and it’s easy to see how the tools and concepts are a good fit for that type of manufacturing. It’s much less obvious however that Lean can and should be applied in Labs. In recent times Lean Lab projects have become quite common but…
Is Lean really an appropriate strategy in the Lab environment or are labs just blindly following trends?
Do you want to reduce lead times while improving productivity in your QC testing laboratory? Read the following case study to find out how.
Lab testing schedules are often dominated by complex prioritization strategies but there is a less stressful way to successfully deal with samples. BSM can help you break out of backlog and improve your labs KPI's and performance.
Service level agreements provide a basis for the metrics against which performance of groups are measured. Discussing and understanding the reasons for (or even implementing) service level agreements are an important initial stage of Lean projects.
Over the past few years, many of the leading Pharmaceutical companies have rolled out extensive programmes to the labs on their manufacturing sites. The better programmes (i.e. those based on the key ‘Real Lean’ principles of levelling, flow and standard work and properly structured and supported) have achieved very impressive results. Pharmaceutical R&D labs however, are significantly different than the Product and Raw Material testing labs found in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing so can Real Lean work in R&D Labs?
Every Department (QC, QA, R&D, RA, Manufacturing, etc.) has its share of non-routine work that must be completed. This can include new instrument qualifications, method validations/transfers, SOP reviews, batch record updates, etc. It is easy for these tasks to get lost in the mix of all the other work. This is of course until there is a hard deadline or annual reviews are approaching! Then resources have to be dedicated to these non-routine projects to ensure that they are completed on time. While this is happening routine work is building up and once the project is cleared we have to set about dealing with the backlog.
A critical component of improving any existing process is first measuring it! “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” (Bohmer, 2008) There are multiple tools for determining a process’ baseline, such as process mapping and spaghetti diagrams. Possibly, some of the more controversial tools are those used for work measurement and standards. There are four recognized methods for gathering information on the time it takes to perform a task (or set of tasks).