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  The NIST Manufacturing Extension Program for Kentucky

Advantage KY News

What is Your Level of Control?

I took over a manufacturing plant in 1993 and as Plant Manager I had full control of Operations. The facility was two large metal buildings with a leaky roof. I was warned that when the Kentucky rains come, there would be water on the floor in several places. Sure enough in one of the main production aisles we would get a large pool of water with no way around it.

Several production workers would stop their jobs to squeegee and mop while leaving their value added duties to wait. They would put out a wet floor sign and anytime a new employee was hired they were advised of the leaky roof. When I asked Maintenance about the issue, they informed me that the roof was top coated sometime back and that made any leaks impossible to find. Seems like the culture of this plant was to train new people to be aware of existing problems and live with them! I had my work was cut out for me. They were at step one and two in their Level of Control.

“Levels of Control Graphic
As a Consultant I once had a client that made kitchen cabinets and they were in an older building that also leaked when it rained. While working to create a better flow, I asked why this large rack of dimensional lumber was located in the center of the department instead of against the wall closer to its point of use. It impeded material flow and caused extra walking. I was told it used to be located there but now the roof leaks so they had to move it. Root Cause analysis was not something they practiced.

What Level of Control is your organization at? Do you just tell people when a problem exists like the leaky roof? Do you put out the “Wet Floor” signs? Will you send emails and post memos to warn your employees when there are problems? Or perhaps you have a culture of eliminating causes of problems and utilizing the A3 Problem Solving tool.“Vision Graphic

Organizations that exhibit high levels of control have standard processes to physically change or eliminate the causes of problems, steps 4 and 5. They may have a Maintenance Requisition process or a Safety Tag that identifies the problem but also provides a system for corrective action to take place and subsequent elimination of the cause. These organizations have learned that having standard processes gets results not only in Maintenance or Safety situations but also in Production and the Office. A workplace run with standards is where best practices are documented and trained so that the employees are not faced with the same decisions for everyday core processes.

“Control Graphic 

Good 5S provides a Visual Workplace, Standardized Work mandates the best practices while A3 Problem Solving is the engine for dealing with any gap between the standard and actual. a

“Traditional Vs Standardized Work Graphic
Standard work has 3 elements.

-Takt Time

-Work Sequence

-Standard In-Process Stock

With Supervisors and Operators designing their processes you are getting the best possible result. Requiring that to be documented makes the Standard process visual and provides a format for training others to the current best practice. A good Work Instruction will include all the elements of Standardized Work on one page.

“Control Process Map 2 Graphic 

In summary the level of control exhibited by your organization is directly related to operational efficiency and subsequent financial performance. AKA can help you eliminate causes of problems and run core processes with repeatability. We offer workshops and kaizen to teach and facilitate your employees for a thorough understanding of 5S, Standardized Work and A3 Problem Solving.

Advantage Kentucky Alliance has many services that help bring control to your processes.  To inquire about these services, or any of our broad array of services, contact Kurt Felten, our marketing specialist, and have him set up a time for you to meet with one of our experts.  Kurt can be reached at (270) 745-3370 or via email at You can also see our AKA website for more information.  Just go to

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