E2 #13 – What does Continuous Improvement mean to me?
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Changing from our current way of doing things to one based on the philosophy and best practices of the Toyota Production System……………What does it mean to “me”?
A machine operator (a collection of many conversations with machinists over many years working under an array of conditions).
Our Machine Operators opinions/experiences/perceptions:
We have been doing things pretty much the same for years now. How we do things doesn’t make much sense to me, but I’m used to it and feel comfortable working in chaos, its normal.
I get my own work, fixtures and tooling, do my own setups, and find the parts I need. It gets frustrating when I can’t find something I need or when my machine breaks down (happened twice last week and then I get yelled at for poor production) or when my boss comes by to tell me to jump on to a rush job (usually towards the end of the month). Rush jobs are a pain, an extra setup, everybody asking me when it will be done; in fact this is about the only time I see management come down to the shop. With all the rush, we usually let some small defects go, because we need to ship it. I am proud of the parts I make and feel really bad when something not right is shipped.
Now our continuous improvement team and the consultant seem to be everywhere. We are getting these long training sessions that have lots of Japanese words and concepts. I don’t understand it, we do not make cars so how can the Toyota Production System work here? What is this Kaizen stuff? If it’s Continuous Improvement lets call it that.
The first thing they did was clean up my department. I think they threw some things away, or whatever red tagging is, that are valuable and we might need someday. I like having extra stuff around for when something breaks, or I need a shim or when and old part gets reordered. They moved my fixtures to a central location and created a visual system so it would be easy to see what we have, what we need to get and what needs to be repaired. Hey, I knew all that before they did anything. I had my own system.
Next they came to my machine to work on setup reduction. They told me I could reduce my setup time from 1 hour to 30 minutes or less. I said, no way, if I could do that I would have done it years ago. I think they just want me to work harder. In fact one of the guys said where he used to work they did all this stuff and then moved production to Mexico. I don’t trust management. I wish I knew why they were doing this stuff.
Well the setup reduction actually worked. Everything I need is organized onto a setup cart, which is prepared in advance for my next setup. They even listened to my ideas for standardizing some settings and offsets and I felt good about that. Maury who runs my machine on second shift thinks it pretty good too.
It’s starting to look like some of this stuff may actually work here as long as management doesn’t screw it up.
Sound familiar to you? Perhaps understanding what your people actually think about the change might be beneficial. Remember, “people are our most important resource”`