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Archive for the ‘Losses & Wastes’ Category

Top Tips for a 5S Engineering Workshop

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Written By: Sean Cole – KCTS Consultant

Engineering Workshops come in all shapes and sizes and varying degrees of tidiness and organisation, however, most are not fit for purpose. A workshop that always looks dirty clearly needs 5S, but what If you see rows of shiny red tool boxes and clean benches, surely this does not need 5S? Just because a workshop is tidy, does not mean it is well organised. The fact that there is more than one toolbox tells you there is waste. As with all 5S, you have to start at the beginning and ask what tasks are performed in the workshop and how is it used as a base for engineering work elsewhere?

I have found that the starting position of most engineers when asked to organise their workshop is: It’s a workshop, it gets dirty; I haven’t got time to clean up; They are my tools, that’s why the box is locked; I need my own bench because then I know I will have a clean space to work. Clearly, there is always a lot of history, but this should not discourage you from ploughing onwards and making a start, history does not always dictate how a future 5S workshop will be organised, only the current required functions and operations can do this.

5S and workplace organisation are well documented, but I will give you my Top 5 Tips to getting 5S really working in an Engineering Workshop:

1. Engage as many engineers as possible is an open discussion about what the workshop is used for. Keep the focus on identifying current losses in those tasks; time to find, waste materials, cleaning time, task time. If there are time and motion issues, keep the discussion on track to “just for a short period, while we see how better it is to work”.

2. During Sort, the Red Tags have to be cleared! The problem with engineering items is they have a perceived high value. This was true when they were purchased, however, they are only worth the scrap metal weight as you don’t have the connections to sell them. If items are spares, put them in the stores system, then they can be easily found and used. All too often you have spares for large items of equipment, but engineers who have been with the company for less than 5 years don’t know where to find them.

3. The other main tip for Sort is how to clear the tools. These are often owned by the Engineers personally and there is a lot of emotion attached to them. There are two stages to this, in stage 1 start by opening up the boxes and taking each tool in turn and asking honestly when it was last used. Sort into three piles, one for in the last month, one for six months and the third pile for over six months. Be sure to split up sets of spanners and hex keys, just the ones being used. Document the contents of each pile of tools, get the engineers to take the third piles home. The first and second piles are placed back in the toolbox, the under a month pile at the top where they can easily be found. Now buy the combined tools from the third piles and place them on a tool board / shadow board in the workshop. After a few months working in this way, start stage 2, open the tool boxes again, document the tool use again to ensure there are no unneeded items. Now, buy one tool box for each person on a shift, i.e. 3 for 12 engineers to share across four shifts, buy the tools as per the combined lists and place laminated check lists inside the lids of the tool boxes. At shift handover, simply include the checking of tools against the lists.

4. During the Set In Order, make sure that work flow into and out of the workshop is the top priority in the proposed new layout and that there will only be one main workbench for everyone. For the weekly and month repeat tasks, create dedicated work cells laid out with tools and can bans for local spares.

5. What really makes the workshop function is having procedures and systems documented for everything; cleaning, work orders, tool storage, work-in-progress storage, dedicated cell tasks and Red Tag clearance. Keep the procedures simple, one page mostly pictures with clearly numbered steps. As soon as new tasks are identified, have the engineers write the procedures for these tasks. Finally, train out the procedures to all the engineers and include checks for them explicitly in the 5S audits.

If you would like to know more about how you can start 5S in your engineering workshop, please contact us here.

Not Another Meeting!!!

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Written By: Cordell Hensley – KCTS Consultant

When was the last time you went to a meeting and walked out at the end and said “That was time well spent”? If you have a job, then odds are, you usually have the opposite opinion at the end of most meetings – you walk out thinking “that was a waste of my time”.

I used to sit in some meetings and count the number of people, figure an average annual salary and then calculate how much money the company was wasting discussing whatever happened to be the topic. I was once in a meeting with 27 managers, averaging around £38,000 in annual salaries and we were discussing what we should do with the cleaning kit on the shop floor! You can imagine how happy I was to be there!

It doesn’t have to be that way! Meetings, while technically Non Value Added (NVA) activities, can be an effective way of ensuring that progress is made, that people are on track and to provide support or at least the opportunity to ask for support. They can also be places to make decisions, assign responsibility for actions and to communicate important issues.

How do we ensure that our meetings are effective? The first thing to do is to ensure we are clear about the purpose of the meeting. A friend of mine once went to a meeting and began by asking the person who had called him to the meeting “what are we here for?” The response was to get agreement on the way forward for a specific project. Since my friend had already been briefed and was in agreement he replied – “Good – I agree, let’s get back to work!” By checking the purpose of the meeting first, he was able to save himself and his colleague an hour of DPP (Death by Power Point).

There are other things we can do to ensure our meetings are as efficient and effective as possible; having an agenda that everyone has seen in advance allows people to come prepared. Sticking to time and ensuring any side discussions are held until after the meeting also helps. Even assigning someone the role of watching the time and keeping people on track can ensure the meeting doesn’t run long or off track.

Meetings are almost an inevitable – like Death & Taxes – but they don’t have to be painful. With a little preparation and agreement of the purpose in advance, a meeting can be an effective tool for managing any business.

If you would like to know more about how you can improve your meeting effectiveness, please contact us here.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Dealing with the “Nay-sayers”

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Written by: Cordell Hensley – KCTS Lean Consultant

If you’ve ever tried to make a change at work or implement a new policy, programme or project you have surely run into one of these characters; the ones who say “we’ve tried that before”, “it won’t work here”, or “here comes another management fad or flavour of the month”.  How you deal with these people can be the difference between the success and failure of your project. Even if they are not in a position to influence the project, they can sure make things difficult for you as the change agent. So the question is “how should we deal with these people”?

The first thing I would suggest is that we attempt to avoid it in the first place; we can often do this simply by communicating early, often & well. We talk about communication all the time, and we see good and bad examples of it. The better your communication with people involved in or affected by a change, the better that change will be accepted, implemented and sustained.

The second – and a lead into the first – is to expect resistance. Often the problem is that managers often think their ideas are so great, why wouldn’t the staff want to do this, that or the other thing? If we don’t expect the resistance, we will not be prepared for it. If we are not prepared for it, then we have a good chance of facing it.

If we have failed to anticipate it, or have anticipated it but been unable to stop it through effective communication then the first thing I would suggest is to try to find out where the negativity is coming from. Is it inherent in their personality (yes, there are people like that out there), is it the memory of a bad experience, have they been through many of these before or is it just the fear of the unknown or of change itself? Understanding where the negativity is coming from should help you deal with it and in many cases allows you to resolve the issues with the person or people who are resisting the project.

Depending on the reasoning behind the resistance the possibilities for dealing with it are many. Some suggestions for things NOT to do:

Don’t goad or push people into something they are uncomfortable with. You may have to force change through in the end but if you at least make attempts to understand the feelings and concerns of the resistors then you have a chance of allaying the fears or resolving the issue. If you force through the change without this “step” you could possibly make an enemy for life.

Don’t let emotions get involved. We are at work, this is not personal (or at least it shouldn’t be) and the more we can keep it on a professional level, the easier it will be to get to a resolution. Emotions build and people get more and more upset and nobody wins.

Don’t “lock horns”. When you are at an impasse or if things are not going well with this person, step away, take a break and resolve to come back later after putting some thought into how to approach the situation/person better.

Regardless of the reasoning behind the resistance there are plenty of Do’s as well:

Do listen and engage with people. Often the biggest issue people have is that they feel like mushrooms – kept in the dark and fed &^%$. Speak to them, communicate with them and treat them as humans- often this is enough to get past the resistance.

Do try to understand their point of view. While we may not always agree with it, resolving differences of opinion often requires the understanding of the other’s views. If we refuse to see things from their perspective, why should we expect them to see things from ours?

Do try to find some common ground. You may not be able to agree on everything, but if you can find some common ground then you have a position that you can move forward together from. Often in disagreements it is much less about the issue at hand, and more about the way we work with people. Finding common ground allows us to feel like we are on the same side. It reduces the barriers which will always help.

Resistance to change is normal, we can probably all admit to being that person at least once in our career. How we deal with it and the people putting it forward says a lot about us and who we are and it can be the difference between a successful project and a failure.

16 Major Losses – revisited

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
Written By: Cordell Hensley – KCTS Consultant

The Value of Information

In a blog posted back in July we talked about why businesses should record data. “The main purpose of recording factory losses is to understand where we are losing time, speed, quality and ultimately money. This allows us to focus our (limited) resources by identifying the big problems across the manufacturing elements of our factory and profit centres”. Is that enough though? Do we always get it right?

I was recently working with a client who called us in to help them sort out their problems with machine availability. The site had a good data collection system in place (or so we thought) and their data was telling them that their biggest problem was with breakdowns. We agreed to develop an internal planned maintenance system but during the first visit, after trying to figure out their specific data recording and reporting system I realised that breakdowns were NOT their biggest problem.

The site had been recording breakdowns, changeovers, cleaning time and unplanned production, but there was no data recording for minor stoppages. Effectively the site captured the easy data, and assumed the rest of the time was productive. In fact there was a large gap between what the machines produced when they ran and what they should have produced given the amount of time that they ran.

For example, if they were supposed to produce 1000 units per hour, and only produced 800, the remaining time was unaccounted for unless there was an actual breakdown. When we dug further we found that breakdowns were not the biggest problem, minor stoppages were.

The company had losses of around 10% due to breakdowns, and over 15% due to minor stoppages. Of course we still set up their maintenance system as requested, they still wanted to reduce the 10% of downtime losses, but we also introduced an improved data collection system to capture the details of where these minor stoppages were occurring so we could begin to tackle these issues

Recording data will help you identify your losses and focus your efforts in the right area; however, this is only the case if you record the right data! Think about what information you need – does your data collection provide the right information? Is it at the right level of detail?

Data is just data until we convert it into information – but if we aren’t looking for the right information, then we won’t be recording the right data.

Quick Kaizen Problem Solving Tool

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

The Quick Kaizen tool is a method of recording our progress in solving a simple problem.

When to use it?
•    Daily meeting problems.
•    5S Organisation problems.
•    Minor stops on machines.
•    Any other problem where people disagree on the potential quick solution.
•    The problem will be typically solved within one day, and will take less than 2 hours actual effort.

What does it achieve?
Quick Kaizen gives focus to an area or activity problem and allows us to monitor the potential solution methods. This helps us to keep track of reported proof tests and to logically decide on the best solution(s).

Sample of a Quick Kaizen worksheet

Key steps
1.    Draw/Sketch the problem and add any necessary comments to clarify the precise issue.
2.    List the potential causes of the problem.
3.    For each cause, identify a test/check and how to perform the test/check.
4.    Assign each test/check to an individual and record whether each is a cause Yes/No.
5.    Agree a list of actions to solve all identified causes.
6.    Assess the risks of all potential solutions.
7.    When all actions are complete, monitor problem is solved and enter completed date.

 

 

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