Here's an interesting video that I came across it when I was doing a search of people with Lean Manufacturing backgrounds in the woodworking industry. The video left me with several impressions. One was about the role of Lean thinking in lowering costs of production. Another was about the role of video in discovering excess motion.
I can remember the first digital camera I bought. It was a little point and shoot and quite expensive for its time. It paid for itself however, the first week I owned it. In that case I had sent it along with someone to a job site to record some conditions about window sill/casegood interface. What we saw when the images came back was a service panel for low voltage wiring that would have, had we forgot about it, cost the price of six cameras to fix on an emergency basis. That service panel had been there all the time but with we somehow didn't see or record it when we were doing onsite measurements.
I think the information was much more salient because we were outside the moment when we were looking at it. The excess motion that the video points out is also probably much more apparent in video than in real life. There's just too much stimulation when you are in the moment.
We at one time made a video of a fellow flattening boards on a jointer. I could stand by this guy all day and not pay much attention but what I saw on film was painful to watch. If I could have done a colored sepia tone for the video, and did red for when motions just added waste and green for when he was doing something the customer valued you would have seen a pretty short blast of green.
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor T:
This is a great video for training- where can I find more? This is the kind of teaching tool that will speed Lean understanding and training in my shop. We had a similar success in taking our laminate layup time from 12 man minutes per panel to 1.5 minutes, using some of the same techniques. The difficulty, as always, has been sustaining the improvement, getting everyone to remember that it doesn't take two people anymore, and how good it feels to be able to do it that well that fast every day. The only question I have is what were they doing building all those pallets in the first place?
1. The improved build time is a bit misleading, since with the new process some of the components are pre-fabricated.
2. There are a couple things introduced that are typically anathema to lean thinking.
They built carts to speed production. They are dedicated to the process and they are mobile. Carts are not always bad. They are cheaper and more flexible conveyor belts. We should remember this when preaching to eliminate carts. They are pre-fabricating components. They have some significant WIP tied up in runners and top sheets, but they are using it with a Kan Ban system so they don't get runaway WIP. We should remember this when preaching 1-piece work flow. Quantity on hand is not 1; it is whatever is right for the product and process.
Typically missing from this presentation is thorough cost-benefit analysis. I want to see a real time improvement number that includes the time spent pre-fabricating components. I want to see the ROI for time and money invested in improving the process. Is it days, months or years? If I had to guess, I would say a few months, but would like to see that quantified.
In the case of the video the cart also became a bench for holding fasteners and nailguns. By adding definition in this work cell there is also the benefit of adding control. At my shop we have a problem with people mortising cabinet doors right outside my office. Adding insult to injury we also have to pay to spend money collecting and putting away the tools associated with this activity. A well defined work zone for this would possibly be a cart on wheels but would probably be better developed as a bench that was transportable with a pallet jack. At least that way it would usually live a reasonable distance from my office.
I found a lot of things to learn from this movie. One of them, as I mentioned before, was just the transparency that seeing this on film provided. Many golf instructors use video to help your game. A football team does also. We could be doing this in our shops as well. Maybe not with the video, but definitely with the storyboard.
The laws of factory physics say that water will follow the simplest path. We have to figure out how to make the sustain part a structural event rather than an edifying exhortation.
An example of this might be tying your drill press chuck key to a cable so that it can't get lost. Another one might be too hard of wire for the air nozzles. This is small stuff until you have to start wandering around looking for a chuck key or an air nozzle.
It's big stuff when one of your guys lowers the buffering sander outfeed onto a box of screws and starts to tear the rubber conveyor belt. We have put in a mechanical sustain part here that preludes horizontal storage in this area. Bulk screw storage is at the outfeed end of our sander but it now has a diagonal lid on it. (Don't ask how come this became a priority). Sustain needs to be done on a structural basis whenever possible. If you kill the quick disconnects you will always know where the staple gun is.
Another aspect is that are we talking about putting video in the workshop. Is it the next step above data entry? How many workers will allow that? I for one will not Ė certainly after 32 years at my position and never one complaint about the work being done, both quantity and quality. I donít need my supervisor with his college degree telling me how to do my job, or even watching me for that matter. He can give me suggestions, but itís up to me to implement them. As I hope everyone here will admit, I still learn things almost every day. I also make mistakes every day.
Video's other power to me is as proof of concept. I've worked around rookie - even very experienced woodworkers; try telling them you can build a hand-dovetailed drawer in ten minutes. They won't believe you. Maybe it's not as precise as the skinny bubinga dovetails they just spent all day working on, but how many clients want to pay you a day's labor to do the joinery for one drawer? Anyway, video can be a good tool to demonstrate baseline performance, or give someone a sense of what's possible. The four minute mile was unbreakable, until it wasn't.
To get even more philosophical about it, video analysis is just another path to the truth. How are we really spending our time, what is really wasted effort; what are the real safety problems. Being able to slow down and speed up playback is a very useful tool. I would imagine a good manufacturing consultant would use video extensively in troubleshooting and diagnosing manufacturing inefficiencies. Thanks for getting me thinking about this.
We used the information to change the way our benches were set up and the way our system works, and our productivity in that area has radically improved, along with the quality of work life for the specialty assemblers as a group. If we were to do this again using a video camera we'd ask the assembler first and I don't think we'd get any objection if we explained what it was for. So far my experience has been that my people react with pride and enthusiasm when we ask them to help improve shop processes and change their environment for the better. I assume it's because we include them in the discussion- if we just put a video camera out there they might not be so enthusiastic.