The third level of process improvement focuses on the creation of stable and reliable processes with a predictable outcome. The main objective of creating stable processes is to avoid incidents, stress, firefighting, downtime, unsafe situations, quality spills, mistakes etc. In other words the creation of an environment where you know what will happen and what can be promised to the client. Remember that a reliable delivery date is better than a faster, but unreliable delivery date. For this you will need stable and predictable processes.
This stage has a high focus on optimizing the logistics in a work environment, rather than focusing on quality improvement programs. However, by creating a stable and reliable process where people only focus on adding value and elimination of Waste the quality of the product will increase as well. In this stage, there are hardly any differences between a production or an office environment, as long as you continue to think in terms of a process. The advantage of a production environment is that the results of this process (the products) are physically present, while in an office setting the results of the process (the service) is very often hidden in a computer system.
The five principles of Lean are the starting point in this level. Processes are described and established in an efficient manner by the identification and elimination of Waste in the process. One of the most powerful tools used in this level is Value Stream Mapping. For manufacturing processes a very powerful method for creating stability is ‘Total Productive Maintenance’ (TPM). TPM is a strategy to improve the efficiency of available production resources and to reduce machine-related rejections. TPM is mainly used in production environments that are highly machine dependent like automotive and food. TPM will be explained in more detail in section . Also ‘Theory of Constraints’ (TOC) is another well-known improvement approach developed by Eliyahu Goldratt (1986) used at this stage.