Standardized Work and Your Packaging Line

This week Beyond Lean is focusing the discussion on standardized work.  There will be four posts throughout the week from different bloggers.  Joe and I will post a blog as well as Tim McMahon from A Lean Journey and Christian Paulsen from Lean Leadership.  The purpose is to look at different aspects of standardized work from several perspectives all gathered in one location and within the same time frame.  We hope this spurs thought, reflection and action for our readers around standardized work.

Today’s post comes form a friend and fellow Purdue Boilermaker, Christian Paulsen.  Christian runs the Lean Leadership blog which covers many topics of lean and at The Consumer Goods Club.  His leadership quotes are great and I use them with people I work with all the time.  Christian Paulsen is a Lean-TPM Consultant that helps teams and companies optimize their performance.  Chris’ experience includes 20 years in a variety of manufacturing leadership roles with companies like Unilever and Nestle.  You can reach Chris at , LinkedIn, Twitter  or Facebook.

Our new team is coming together for their 7 a.m. work session.  This team is working through the steps of Autonomous Maintenance and is working through their agenda when the area supervisor approaches the team.  His support is a welcome sight as he listens to the team’s interactions intently.  The team leader then welcomes the supervisor and asks if he has anything to add.

The supervisor says, “I have a request of the team.  The entire packaging department is running terrible and is way behind schedule.  Your cartoner is all jacked up and is acting crazy.  I need you to fix the cartoner and help get us caught up.”

The team was eager to help even though granting the supervisor’s request would require skipping everything that had been planned for that work session.   The team leader is very confident that they can get the line back up and running.  He proclaims,

“I’ve seen this before.  The line is running great then another shift comes in and starts making adjustments….we’ll get it going in no time.” 

Sure enough, after making a series of minor adjustments the line is up and running within the hour.  By the end of the day, this line is exceeding production goals.  All the team had to do was set up the cartoner properly.

Is this the end of the story?  Hardly.  Manufacturing veterans have all seen how individual operators all seem to have their own way to run their line.  In many cases, well intending operators and mechanics will start making adjustments as soon as the off-going shift clocks out, even on a well running machine.  Yet, as this real life event illustrates, there is one best practice.  You need everyone following the same best practice.

The team documented all of the mechanical settings and arranged for a prolonged production trial of these settings.  The settings were initially marked with temporary but secure arrows.  These arrows were replaced with permanent etchings.  While some got on board faster and easier than others, these settings are the documented standard and the expectation of every operator.

Do you have examples of how standardization has improved the productivity and reliability of your production lines?  Do you have standards that you need to put in place today?

Other posts from this standardized work series:

Posted on March 6, 2012, in Improvement, Manufacturing, Standardized Work, Tools and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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