Manufacturing Excellence Kit Waiting Part 3

 Aug 2019

In our last video we talked about a quick, simple, low cost way of identifying kits so today I’m going to share what that then facilitated for us.  Please do keep in mind that we manufacture 100’s of different products every month and that they all take a different route around the factory. Some are machine build, some are built by hand and some of each of those are tested.  So one size, or route in our case, fits no-one!  What I’m trying to say is that this may not apply to you if you have a running production line that manufacturers, broadly the same product, continuously or products that at least follow the same production flow.

Before we start there are some basic human behaviours we need to understand if we want to drive productivity in our production environment and one of the first ones is that no-one wants to look as if they are not busy.  In production, not being busy equals my job is at risk!! We know this to be true because a job that can be done in half a day can take a lot longer if we are going through a “slow period”.  Can you increase the price to reflect this time ABSOLUTELY NOT so then you also have inaccurate decision making data when bidding for that job for a second time. 

The second is that the production team are not necessarily aware of IF we are in a busy period or a ticking over period or if the busy period we are having will be for a week or 6 months they just need to continue to look busy and have a job to work on.  If they finish this job too quick, will there be another one?  Or if you have many different jobs, like we do “What if the next job available is not suitable for their skill set?”  When you work with many different kits your neighbour on the shop floor being busy next to you does not necessarily mean that there is something available for you to do.

People also waste time when they don’t know what to do.  We’ve all done it walked into work not really having a clear plan of action for the day and wasted the first hour sifting through emails, chatting by the coffee machine and trying to establish what our priority for the day should be, same thing.  People get on when then know what to do.

So how can you give them the security they need AND motivate them to build the job in 4 hours not 6 or 8?

KIT WAITING

Kit waiting is another super simple concept.  When an operator finishes a job, rather than letting their supervisor know and then collecting their next job from a central location their supervisor places their next kit, including all its supporting information and specialist tools at their workstation before their current job is finished, giving them that security that there will be another job when they finish and that we need them to get on and keep up.  This changes the dynamic slightly from “I don’t want to look like I’m not busy” to one where “I don’t want to look like I can’t keep up”, a win win for everyone.

The best that I’ve ever seen this working was at a factory manufacturing extremely large pieces of equipment.  The stores team delivered trollies of kit to each part of the production line, each stage had 2 or 3 kits ready to go, each one slightly different to accommodate end user customisation requirements .  They then hung the main body of the equipment from a moving conveyer for each department to fit the parts as it went past.   Clearly the speed of the conveyer controls the takt time but the fact that they could “see” their next job coming down the line and that they had the kit ready to go makes all the difference.  We aren’t quite at the stage where our stores team know which operator to deliver the hand built kits to but they do deliver machine built kits straight to the correct pick and place line which has already delivered results.  This along with an investment strategy has helps us deliver what we were manufacturing on 5 lines on 2.

Please join us next time when we’ll be sharing a bit more about how we delivered this turnaround in our surface mount assembly productivity.

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