Thursday, June 11, 2009

Improving problem solving

Setup reduction is an ideal way to improve the problem solving skills of everyone in the company. The problem is contained, yet, as we have seen, it involves everyone. It is also a “safe” problem, in that it is a part of a long-term strategy, and never a short-term survival measure. Finally, a lot can be accomplished without the need for capital spending.

One key to success at solving problems is developing “eyes for waste”. Whether the waste is of time, material, labour, or some other asset, close observation over time will reveal the pattern of activities that yield no value. In the case of setup, the value is a productive machine or process, with a different output from before it was stopped for changeover.

Another key to success at problem solving is measuring results. The only think that needs to be measured for setup reduction is time – did it take less this time than last? Of course, you can’t cheat – poor quality, injuries, disruption of other activities can’t be traded for less time setting up.

Some key lessons learned from problem solving for reduced setup time include:
- the value of good observation
- the value of standardization
- the value of organization
- the value of planning
- the value of measuring and tracking
- the value of training
- the value of communication
- the value of questioning

If these lessons are not learned, setups will not be reduced.

Organizations depend on problem solving for continued business success. Using setup reduction as the training and proving ground for problem solving makes good sense. And into the bargain, you get lower costs and better service.

37 comments:

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