Productivity Improvement

Way back in 1990s when I was in Curitiba, Brazil, I was in a leadership task force as part of the TQM initiative to develop a guideline for improving productivity – the most important survival necessity.

I have listed out some hints for improving productivity out of this task force in this blog.

Strategy: Annual moto for the company/plant (Can also be top 3 focus areas), Projects to kill defects, Decentralisation and integration of storage with the lines, End to end single person responsibility for new launches, Introduction of self-operating teams, etc.

Set-up: Ensure proper skilling for set-up, Full kitting, Predefined set-up teams for constraints, Thorough documentation for first time right (FTR) set-up, Carry-out minor maintenance (Red Tags) during set-up, etc.

Excess wages (More than planned in the cost calculation): Clear red tags ASAP, Man-machine study and charts to avoid bad multi-tasking, Practical control plan, Special projects to eliminate/integrate unplanned work, Daily monitoring and reporting of unplanned work, etc.

Autonomous maintenance: Thorough periodic maintenance, Comprehensive and living maintenance checklist, Simplification/splitting of complex processes, Easy change positions, Marrying the operators with the machines to enhance belonging, 5S, etc.

Scrap/Rework: Closed loop control, All Key Critical Characteristics get checked at least once more downstream, Capability studies, Zero deburring, Job rotation, Tool life monitoring, Self certification of all sourced parts, etc.

Waiting times: Publicly visualised pending tasks (maintenance, housekeeping, documentation, safety hazards, etc.) list, Pep talk and impromptu trainings with A3 booklets, Continuous monitoring of planned arrival and expected arrival of parts, Full kit status for the next 3 days, Pagers to all key personnel, etc.

Warehouse: Bar coding, horizontal storage, FIFO, Mechanical/Physical limits for max. storage, optimised secondary/tertiary packaging quantity to avoid counting, Loading directly into the handling bins/trays, etc.

Quality: Rigorous preventive quality assurance, 8D for all defects, Set-up approval, periodic inspection and audit documentation with all lots mandatory, Visible comprehensive defect catalogue, Intense system and process audit to reduce product audit, etc.

Despite a significant progress over the last 2 decades, many of these insights we had during the 1990s is still a major challenge even to some multinational companies. Many SMEs seem to have never grown though.

Happy reading!