Company videotaped set-up procedures to find ways to streamline the process.
One way to improve productivity is to look at a process and streamline it, right? Dave Miller, president of Lemco Miller, tried that at the $2-million custom-machine-parts manufacturer in Danvers, Mass., but says, "You forget so much and don't see all the wasted motions." His solution: to look through the "third eye" of the video camera.
Miller videotaped several tool-setup processes at one milling work center. Watching the tape, he noticed details he'd missed earlier, like workers walking back and forth during the setup, borrowing tools from other work centers. Getting tools ready beforehand was the kind of "soft" change Miller was looking for: a no-cost procedure modification.
He invited management and all work teams -- not just the video stars -- to view the tape. The video provided direct and impartial feedback to employees, a better technique than a management lecture, says Miller. "It was a good way to get people interested." As they watched the tape, workers suggested changes, like shifting a cabinet that blocked access and getting all the necessary materials closer to the machines.
The tips cut setup time by 15% to 20% throughout the work center. That can mean hours of savings per week, gains that are important as Lemco takes on more small jobs. Feedback focused on improvements any team could make, with changes at one center serving as models for others. Today Miller reviews setups to make sure changes are made and carried over to subsequent jobs. He also plans to tape sessions at other centers. -- Phaedra Hise