16 May

Start of 5S in Printing – Key 1

The start of rolling out a LEAN program in Vanderbijl DTPthis week. Part of the project is implementing 5S’ s in the DTP section. The first photo shows the team starting to reorganise their work space. They have already cleared out clutter and demarcated their equipment, installed notice boards to manage their actions lists and started categorising their ink stock. Their latest 5S audit shows an improvement in their workspace of 45% after 2 days. Fantastic job gents…and we have only just started.


Second picture shows the start of the red tag process on the printing line.IMG_0213 The second photo shows the start of the RED TAG exercise on a printing line. Sipho shows how the operators have highlighted faults to be corrected by the maintenance team during their routine maintenance program. Next week is the start of Quick Changeover program where the teams will design their own process maps and best practice.

19 Sep

Chicken or the Egg

ToolsNo matter how good your equipment is, it can only be as good as the operator allows it to be. (picture) Our chicken and egg question today is…do you hire in skills and expertise or do you develop them in-house?

It is relatively easy to purchase and import new (and sometimes second hand) equipment knowing what optimal performance can be expected once installed. The problem arises in finding the correct knowledge and skills to operate the equipment at maximum efficiency. Recruiting operators with the specific skill sets and product knowledge required for your plant and equipment is nearly impossible. Often basic training is given and over time we see efficiencies that are below expected standards. Pressure is applied to improve production resulting in little or no planned or preventative maintenance because any downtime means lost production. Over time the production team become demotivated and the equipment deteriorates leading to more and more unplanned stoppages.

So how do we develop and foster this knowledge. Working on the premiss that “None of us is as smart as all of us” Over the years I have found that the knowledge and skills we need to be world class are generally on the shop floor. The problem is that it is scattered amongst all of the operators, technicians and management staff. The solution is find the people with these pockets of knowledge and skill sets and create an environment that will allow them to document and coach their expertise.

African story…a filling team used the ‘Back 2 Basics’ process to create a Best Operating Practice by putting all their knowledge and skills in one place. Each ‘expert’ drew up a One Point Lesson (OPL) for each bit of knowledge or skill they had. Sometimes a few would gather together to pool their resources. Once the OPL’s were developed every member of the team was trained and tested by their peers resulting in a high performance team with multi skilled members. After 3 months equipment performance had improved by 18% and unplanned stoppages reduced to zero.

Sustainability is driven by Continuous Improvement (Kaizen), which must become part of your culture. This means the establishment of small group activities to improve the efficiency of the manufacturing function by minimising inputs and maximising outputs through loss analysis. It takes some time…so persevere. The result will be that your equipment will become more reliable leading to operation and life cycle costs being reduced. Training and multi skilling should become an everyday routine and you will find that authority is replaced with leadership.

05 Sep

It’s not about earning more…it’s about losing less

News Flash!
Quick-ChangeoversOne 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.