"Get up and Walk the Floor"Process improvement with a little free exercise thrown in…
Got 5 minutes? Between the three or four meetings on your schedule today (all to discuss future meetings, of course), what is something you can do to help both you and your processes? Get up. That simple. Get up and walk the floor. Instead of talking or just thinking about your next meeting… look… observe… see.
What am I looking for? See the tape on that line worker's fingers? Why? See the metal shavings on the floor near where the electrical connections are made? Why? Why does the material handler have to back up on that side? Why does the lady at one line station look stressed out, while the three before her are looking around?
Solve the problem and make it go away. Once you start digging, don't be surprised at the opportunities you find to improve your process. Let's face it, communication in the plant is not always what it needs to be. Manufacturing engineers are often too busy (with meetings). Line supervisors don't typically commend us for talking with their line workers and slowing things down.
Results. Why was tape on her fingers? She was having to press electrical terminals down by hand. Two hours, a spare cylinder, and a quick relay update later; she is moved to a different location on the line and they are getting out 5% more parts per shift. Metal shavings on the floor? Line workers were filing down electrical contacts to get them to fit. Found it when the lady in that station retired and 'nothing fit anymore'. Simple tooling fix with the vendor. Got material handlers backing up in weird locations? Look at the flow in the area and reorder for better traffic movement. One operator stressed out? Simple line rebalance and all are happier.
It's the simple things!Get up and do it. You just might get a little exercise in as well! Doesn't matter if you are in a manufacturing plant or an engineering office. Any process can be improved with a little observation and a little applied problem solving.
Who am I? An engineer who tries to solve the problem and make it go away. Have worked in manufacturing, design, and now provide consulting engineering services to a host of industries. Hope this article helps get you thinking and gets you up and doing. Send me an email if agree / have any thoughts / or just need some help.