One team has got off to a particularly good start this year by reducing the changeover time on their line by 53%. This means the team reduced their production losses by R21 300 per changeover. Their set-up time was also shorter resulting in less waste being produced. The comment of the team when they had achieved this fantastic result was “It was good but we can already see where we can do better”. They are now working on 2 ideas from the session, which will not only reduce their workload but also increase production and reduce downtime due to breakdowns. The plant managers response was “Quite frankly I thought that their target was a little ambitious and thought they would be hard pressed to achieve it. It was amazing to see that not only did they beat it but still think they can do better.”
We often hear the question “How do I reduce my unplanned downtime and / or waste?” These are traditionally some of the biggest losses in a company and the secret is very simple…use your teams. “We tried that.” you say and either it did not work or was not sustained.
Remember you need to change the way people think at work. Your teams have to want to help and management have to want to support them. In the past a common management phrase was “You are not paid to think, you’re paid to run your machine.” Any creativeness from the shop floor was stifled in case it impacted negatively on the equipment or production and if there happened to be a good idea it was hijacked by someone more senior.
In many businesses there are divisions between production and engineering or maintenance where each did their utmost not to help the other. Today companies are giving their teams more responsibility by creating small business units or multi-skilled interlocking teams, thus empowering them by giving them ownership of their line, product or section. However many SBU’s are still restricted in what they are allowed to do because of all the controls such as “all ideas must be ‘passed’ by management before they can be tested.”
Teams need to be allowed the opportunity to test and discard ideas themselves. (within reason of course) It gives them the feeling that the business is really theirs and people work harder at their own businesses. Allowing the teams to test their ideas will also create ‘enquiring minds’ because if one idea does not work they will come up with another to solve their problem. Some of the biggest savings have come from ideas generated from the shop floor. Not surprising actually considering they spend all their time watching and operating the equipment. Some elements that have been found to make the changes easier are:
- Increased vertical and horizontal communication usually by way of involving the teams in morning meetings and the regular use of notice boards. (Workplace Organisation using the 5S system and Team Building)
- Involve the teams in focusing on and being responsible for results in areas such as production and waste. (Achieving Quick Changeovers)
- Involve the teams in rejuvenating their equipment and establishing B.O.P.’s. (Autonomous Maintenance)
- Involve the teams in maintenance, lubrication and fault-finding. (Workplace Organisation using the 5S system)
- Involve the teams in measurements. Remember if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. (Workplace Organisation using the 5S system and Achieving Quick Changeovers)
Given the chance people naturally try to improve their lives. All your teams need are the tools to help them improve and lots of support. The results will be amazing and sustainable.