Training Lean Thinkers

Rodolfo de Castro Vila, Gerusa Giménez Leal


Future engineers in acquiring and managing specific skills associated with a Lean production system is a challenge at university. Netland (2013), based on a study of production systems in 30 firms, considered that all production systems share the same principles and that these are similar to the Lean system’s principles. From its beginnings, the Lean system has evolved and spread to all sectors, and, although it is not the objective of this contribution to explain the scope of Lean, we can confirm that the literature still has no agreed definition of Lean production and, in some way, the general purpose formulations of the concept diverge. However, it is clear that the roots of Lean production should be acquired by future engineers for them to become Lean Thinkers. Understanding and assimilating these concepts on the theoretical level can be complex and so adequate tools need to be employed. We aimed to do this through gamification with LEGO© sets. Gamification has evolved from activity based learning and is an innovative learning system designed to improve knowledge through experience. It is the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (such as a task) to encourage participation. The Lean Management concepts we worked with were (1) Production based on takt time, (2) Process synchronization, (3) Small lot production, (4) Waste elimination, (5) Setup time reduction, (6) Lead time reduction (7) Cross training, (8) Employee involvement, (9) 5S, (10) Standardized work, (11) Visual control and Management and (12) Supplier involvement. The experience consisted of building a small LEGO ©structure and designing a balanced production line. The main aim was for students to acquire knowledge from the experience by highlighting ways to improve the production system and avoid waste through better planning and by applying some Lean practices. The experience was a complete success in terms of student involvement, and enjoyed satisfactory results in terms of Lean concept acquisition. In Conclusions, we categorize which Lean concepts were more easily consolidated through the game and propose improvements for subsequent experiences. Although the students acquired high levels of the abovementioned concepts, there were four concepts that did not meet the learning objective: Production based on takt time, Small lot production, Setup time reduction and Cross training. The problem was students did not have a standard framework within which to solve the case and, while proposing the concept of creating an innovative production system was solid, the lack of a standard framework made it difficult to compare the different solutions presented by the students. We hope this teaching experience will encourage Production and Operation management lecturers to adapt their lessons to this fascinating new way of teaching management concepts.

Keywords: Production Systems, Lean, Gamification, Education, LEGO©

Formando a Lean Thinkers

Resumen: La formación de futuros ingenieros en la adquisición de habilidades específicas asociadas a la gestión de un sistema de producción Lean es un desafío para la Universidad. Comprender y asimilar estos conceptos puede ser complejo a nivel teórico, resultando imprescindible buscar herramientas que ayuden a este propósito. Esta contribución describe una experiencia práctica mediante el uso de la gamificación con conjuntos LEGO ©. La experiencia ha sido excelente en cuanto a la participación y motivación del alumnado, con resultados satisfactorios en la adquisición de los conceptos Lean. También se identifican los conceptos Lean que se han consolidado más fácilmente a través del juego y se proponen mejoras para las próximas experiencias.

Palabras clave: Sistemas de producción, Lean, Gamificación, Educacion, LEGO©

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