Lean in Nike – NOS (Nike Operation System) #3

Nike wanted to transformed the overall processes of footwear manufacturing radically with Lean. It would not started Lean journey if they would do some 7 wastes hunting or 5S. For about +50 years, footwear had been produced as much as same way regardless of companies and countries where they operated. Big batches of components were in each stations of processes, huge amount of inventories between processes and each functions pursued their own efficiency as silos. And the long changeover time in mold using processes like rubber press, PU pouring, Pylon press, high frequency and upper molding press etc. As a result, lead-time was pretty long over 20 to even 30 days from material warehouse to finished goods warehouse. And inside the factories was always dark and the working environment seems not good. Even Nike was always on attacked by social activities that Nike factories were using toxic chemicals.

With Lean journey, changes began from physical area like new layout with introducing takt time and material flow continuously as long as possible. In case flow is not possible, they designed pull system using kanban and flow racks. Though one pair flow in stitching line was not easy to implement at that time(even today), team leaders were trying to improve the flow by helping her team members (With Lean, titles were also changed with the philosophy of ‘Respect for People’. They were no more operators but team members). Andon systems were installed at every processes so every team members always can call his/her team leaders whenever support needed by pulling the andon chords which were hung in front of the work station.

Cutting process was scheduled with passcard board which was functioning as instruction kanban. Cutting components were prepared in the 5 baskets which is 1 hour of inventory. These baskets were used for pull system in the flow rack. If baskets were pulled by the next process (stitching), then cutting operators began to replenish the baskets following the schedule. Then material handlers were delivering components to different input points with JIT principle – supply parts only needed quantity at needed time. So pull system with flow racks kept inventory as 1.5 ~2 hours maximum between cutting and stitching.

— Shared by D J Kim (Source: LinkedIn)