What Heijunka is & How it Smooths Call Centre Production

The Japanese word Heijunka, pronounced hi-JUNE-kuh means ?levelling? in the sense of balancing workflows. It helps lean organizations shift priorities in the face of fluctuating customer demand. The goal is to have the entire operation working at the same pace throughout, by continuously adjusting the balance between predictability, flexibility, and stability to level out demand.

Henry Ford turned the American motor manufacturing industry upside down by mass-producing his iconic black motor cars on two separate production lines. In this photograph, body shells manufactured upstairs come down a ramp and drop onto a procession of cars almost ready to roll in 1913.

Smoothing Production in the Call Centre Industry

Call Centres work best in small teams, each with a supervisor to take over complex conversations. In the past, these tended to operate in silos with each group in semi-isolation representing a different set of clients. Calls came through to operators the instant the previous ones concluded. By the law of averages, inevitably one had more workload than the rest at a particular point in time as per this example.

Modern telecoms technology makes it possible to switch incoming lines to different call centre teams, provided these are multi-skilled. A central operator controls this manually by observing imbalanced workflows on a visual system called a Heijunka Box. The following example comes from a different industry, and highlights how eight teams share uneven demand for six products.

This departure from building handmade automobiles allowed Henry to move his workforce around to eliminate bottlenecks. For example, if rolls of seat leather arrived late he could send extra hands upstairs to speed up the work there, while simultaneously slowing chassis production. Ford had the further advantage of a virtual monopoly in the affordable car market. He made his cars at the rate that suited him best, with waiting lists extending for months.

A Modern, More Flexible Approach

Forces of open competition and the Six Sigma drive for as-close-to-zero defects dictates a more flexible approach, as embodied in this image published by the Six Sigma organisation. This represents an ideal state. In reality, one force usually has greater influence, for example decreasing stability enforces a more flexible approach.

Years ago, Japanese car manufacturer Toyota moved away from batching in favour of a more customer-centric approach, whereby buyers could customise orders from options held in stock for different variations of the same basic model. The most effective approach lies somewhere between Henry Ford?s inflexibility and Toyota?s openness, subject to the circumstances at the moment.

A Worked Factory Example

The following diagram suggests a practical Heijunka application in a factory producing three colours of identical hats. There are two machines for each option, one or both of which may be running. In the event of a large order for say blue hats, the company has the option of shifting some blue raw material to the red and green lines so to have the entire operation working at a similar rate.

Predictability, Flexibility, and Stability at Call Centre Service

The rate of incoming calls is a moving average characterised by spikes in demand. Since the caller has no knowledge whether high activity advisories are genuine, it is important to service them as quickly as possible. Lean process engineering provides technology to facilitate flexibility. Depending on individual circumstances, each call centre may have its own definition of what constitutes an acceptably stable situation.

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Sources of Carbon Emissions

Exchange of carbon dioxide among the atmosphere, land surface and oceans is performed by humans, animals, plants and even microorganisms. With this, they are the ones responsible for both producing and absorbing carbon in the environment. Nature?s cycle of CO2 emission and removal was once balanced, however, the Industrial Revolution began and the carbon cycle started to go wrong. The fact is that human activities substantially contributed to the addition of CO2 in the atmosphere.

According to statistics gathered by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, carbon dioxide comprises 82% of UK?s greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. This makes carbon dioxide the main greenhouse gas contributing to the pollution and subsequent climate change in UK.

Types of Carbon Emissions

There are two types of carbon emissions ? direct and indirect. It is easier to measure the direct emissions of carbon dioxide, which includes the electricity and gas people use in their homes, the petrol burned in cars, distance of flights taken and other carbon emissions people are personally responsible for. Various tools are already available to measure direct emissions each day.

Indirect emissions, on the other hand, include the processes involved in manufacturing food and products and transporting them to users? doors. It is a bit difficult to accurately measure the amount of indirect emission.

Sources of Carbon Emissions

The sources of carbon emissions refer to the sectors of end-users that directly emit them. They include the energy, transport, business, residential, agriculture, waste management, industrial processes and public sectors. Let’s learn how these sources contribute carbon emissions to the environment.

Energy Supply

The power stations that burn coal, oil or gas to generate electricity hold the largest portion of the total carbon emissions. The carbon dioxide is emitted from boilers at the bottom of the chimney. The electricity, produced from the fossil fuel combustion, emits carbon as it is supplied to homes, commercial establishments and other energy users.

Transport

The second largest carbon-emitting source is the transport sector. This results from the fuels burned in diesel and petrol to propel cars, railways, shipping vehicles, aircraft support vehicles and aviation, transporting people and products from one place to another. The longer the distance travelled, the more fuel is used and the more carbon is emitted.

Business

This comprises carbon emissions from combustion in the industrial and commercial sectors, off-road machinery, air conditioning and refrigeration.

Residential

Heating houses and using electricity in the house, produce carbon dioxide. The same holds true to cooking and using garden machinery at home.

Agriculture

The agricultural sector also produces carbon dioxide from soils, livestock, immovable combustion sources and other machinery associated with agricultural activities.

Waste Management

Disposing of wastes to landfill sites, burning them and treating waste water also emit carbon dioxide and contributes to global warming.

Industrial Processes

The factories that manufacture and process products and food also release CO2 , especially those factories that manufacture steel and iron.

Public

Public sector buildings that generate power from fuel combustion also add to the list of carbon emission sources, from heating to other public energy needs.

Everybody needs energy and people burn fossil fuels to create it. Knowing how our energy use affects the environment, as a whole, enables us to take a step ahead towards achieving better climate.

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Field Service Organisations should use Digital Forms

For many Organisations, making use of paper based forms, is a common practice and method for collecting data and recording transactions. Whether it be for producing Quotations, Invoices or even getting sign off on completed jobs.

Paper based forms and documents have been the main stay of office communication and productivity for over 200 years. Paper-based forms are used to create anything from Invoices, Receipts, Purchase Orders, Contracts to the humble internal memo!

Paper-based forms radically improved productivity, efficiency and compliance by enabling people to create paper based instructions and enabling others to add additional information as required.

Over the past 3 decades or so, modern business environments have gradually been evolving towards the concept of the Paperless Office, resulting in the humble Paper based document migrating to a Digital Counterpart. The ease of availability of various Word Processing and Spreadsheet software products and cheap and easy data storage capacity have resulted in the Proliferation of thousands if not millions of files and documents being stored somewhere on the Company’s IT infrastructure.

People often create Digital Templates of forms that may be printed off and supplied to staff to complete using Pen and Paper or electronically. The data collation and reporting is often process

Often when conducting Operational Reviews, it is commonly found that the processing and analysing paper based forms is the least productive, efficient and profitable areas of business, although it is often vitally important.

Benefits of using digital forms for data collection

The ability to collect and analyse data effectively is increasingly important to businesses. Companies gather, examine, process and build reports on large volumes of data. Traditionally, they have deployed mail surveys, telephone interviews, door-to-door interviews as methods to collect information. With the ongoing digitisation, these procedures have become old fashioned.The digital transformation is changing many business operations at a high speed and a great deal of processes that were executed manually are now accomplished using digital methods.

Technology has had a major impact on how to approach data research and has provided researchers new tools that have transformed and improved data collection and analysis. The pace of change requires companies to be able to react quickly and adapt themselves to changing demands from customers and market conditions.

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What ISO 14001 Status did for Cummins Inc.

Cummins manufactures engines and power generation products, and has been a household name almost since inception in 1919. It sells its products in over 300 countries, through approximately 6,000 dealerships employing 40,000 people. Because its product line runs off fossil fuel it is under steady pressure to display a cleaner carbon footprint.

Cummins decided to go for the big one by qualifying for ISO 14001 certification. This is a subset of a family of standards relating to managing environmental impact while complying with all applicable legislation. In this sense, it is similar to the ISO 9000 quality management system, because it focuses on how products are produced (as opposed to how those products perform). Compliance with ISO 14001 was a doubly important goal, because it is part of the European Union?s Eco Management and Audit Scheme and fast becoming mandatory on suppliers to governments.

The qualification process follows the well-established principle of plan, do, check, act. It begins with gap analysis to detect materials and processes that affect the environment. This is followed by implementation of necessary changes affecting operations, documentation, emergency strategies and employee education. The third step involves measuring and monitoring performance. Finally, the project moves into a phase of ongoing maintenance, and continuous improvement as circumstances change.

In Cummins case, the project was almost worldwide and called for environmental, health and safety reporting throughout the organisation. The information was shared via a globally accessible document repository, and then processed centrally at the head office in Columbia, Indiana USA.

Measuring environmental performance almost inevitably has other benefits that make it doubly worthwhile. Speaking at the 2014 National Safety Council Congress after receiving the top award for excellence, Cummins chairman and ceo Tom Linebarger commented on a journey that was ?nothing short of amazing? yet wasn’t even a ?pathway to the finish line?.

?All of us feel like we have way more to do to make sure that our environment is as safe as it could be,? he added, ?so that our sustainability footprint is as good as it can be and that we continue to set more aggressive goals every year. That’s just how we think about it.? Linebarger concluded.

If you are taking your company on a journey to new heights of environmental excellence, then you should consider choosing ecoVaro as your travelling companion. We are environmental management specialists and have proprietary software geared to process your data. We also have a wealth of experience, and a treasure chest of roadmaps to help you achieve your goal.

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