The Added Value of Preparing a Wok

I often measure the performance of operators or teams during industrial production. What is the performance of “artisanal” production?
One evening I decided to measure the activity of a volunteer while cooking an Asian-style wok.

I quickly realized that I had forgotten a major detail before starting my measurement.
What is the performance that I was trying to measure?

  • That of my process: have the supper ready as soon as possible
  • That of my operator: to occupy my cook to the maximum

What added value am I measuring?

Several steps are added value for both my product and the operator: when the cook washes vegetables, cuts vegetables and meat or mixes ingredients in the pan, the operator produces added value and the dish gains value.

When the cook consults his recipe or waits for his pan to heat up, we are dealing with non-value added operations for both the product and the operator.

On the other hand, when the cook cleans his utensils while the dish is cooking… The product is gaining value, but the operator brings no value to the product. One could possibly put these times in a category of the type incompressible time or badly necessary, because to cook requires to clean, even if it does not bring value directly to the product.

However, once he has finished his dishes and is waiting behind the pan for onions and other peppers to cook well, he produces no added value, while the dish does every second.

In the end, if I do a balance sheet, my product will have 90% value added operations. At the same time my operator will have produced value for only 60% of his time. The cooking process time explains the difference.

Before measuring the performance of an activity, you need to know what you are trying to measure and what is the goal.

What is the goal of the measure?

In my case, the goal was to have my supper ready quickly. A score of 90% added value is therefore very satisfactory. On the other hand my cook only produced value during 60% of his time, which is quite low. I could have used him for other tasks during this time.

In a company, the goal can also be to produce faster than the process allows. That is to exploit the machines to the maximum, even if the workforce remains idle at some time. On the contrary, the objective could be to make the best use of the workforce. In that case the machines are not used to the maximum of their capacity.

To achieve the right measurements, we must check the order book, the availability of resources. Then we need to identify any bottlenecks and the incompressible process time. Finally, we will discuss with the measure’s client to find out what he expects such an operation.

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