Lean Methodologies have long been used in industry to improve process flows and to drive increased efficiency. This approach has typically not been applied to the same extent in the laboratory due to the increased complexity and lack of applicable tools. PlanDomino addresses this complexity by incorporating the established principles of Lean Management to laboratory workflow and providing a unique and compelling interface for management of resources and tasks. The Lean concepts applied are described here:
Most complex laboratories experience significant variability of incoming workloads by way of changing a number of samples and changing mix of samples. PlanDomino’s levelling techniques are designed to manage this variability and result in a more productive and less stressful working environment.
Creating flow in the laboratory reduces test cycle times and work in progress. It is made possible by standardising routine work and is enhanced by levelling techniques. Flow results in an overall more productive sample/test management system.
Standardising routine work in the laboratory (including non-test activity) ties levelling and flow together in a way that gives lab managers control over available resources. It also improves test repeatability and reduces the time taken to train new analysts.
As a part of the overall lean laboratory concept, visual representation of data, workloads and the current state is vital. Visual management includes stand up meeting boards, display of workloads, visual management of physical samples, metrics, and many others. It improves overall communication, both on-the-fly and long-term management of issues and investigations, management of available resources (including equipment and personnel), management of non-test tasks and safety issues.
Many analysts have no experience of examining the processes that they carry out day to day. This can be an exciting time in the laboratory as ideas, such as one-piece flow and 1 minute 1 day, are introduced. Analysts learn how to reduce waste in their work environment and how to add value to their team. It is important that structures are put in place to allow analysts time to critically examine what they do so that improvements can be made.