No I do not mean that all you need to do is press your lips to another to succeed. I’m speaking of Keep It Simple Stupid. Generally this works out best in life and in business. In manufacturing it always rules. If you really dive in the Toyota Production System, KISS is at its core.
I recently learned Boeing’s method to keep track of the final assembly for the technical marvel 747. The plane starts final assembly at one of the building and exits the opposite end when complete. Final assembly includes attaching and testing some of the most complicated systems in aerospace today. The cutting edge of technology. To constantly monitor the status of this assembly schedule, Boeing writes the date and time on the floor, where the plane should be in the process. If the plane is not to that line, they are behind. KISS at it’s finest. Boeing instituted this system as they phased in the Toyota Production System.
So in a job shop, with different parts, some taking an hour and some taking days to run, different size machines with work loads falling on different pods of machinery each day, how do we monitor our schedule?
On time delivery to our customers is crucial, just miss a date and you will find out quickly. When you have customers assembling parts worth several thousand dollars, going in equipment worth several million dollars, try to tell them it will be delayed due to a spring worth a few cents. On time delivery of every component is essential to the effort.
So how do we monitor our production to our schedules. We have several reports we can run on the computers, but generally by the time they tell you anything, it’s already too late. Management needs instant access to on time status on the production floor, where it is happening. KISS
Simple Visual Ques are the key to monitoring on time production. Toyota lives and dies by the visual ques they use to monitor on time production, many no more sophisticated than chalk boards or colored magnets. KISS
We are currently instituting our KISS solution for monitoring spring production at Ebsco. “LIGHTS” We will install simple lights at the top of poles at each machine. When the machine is running behind schedule, the operator will flip a switch lighting the bulb. This will allow management to easily direct their attention to troubled areas. They can then work with operators seeking solutions to get production back on schedule. Solutions may include adding additional help, shifting work loads to other machines, providing additional training, machine repair or adjustment and many more. The key is identifying the area behind schedule and addressing the situation immediately before it creates a domino effect.
It is essential that your KISS solution, in Ebsco’s case the lights, is NOT used as a weapon. It must be used as a tool. If management’s response to the light is to assign blame and criticize operators, I will assure you that your solution will not work in the long run. No one wants to flip a switch to create themselves discomfort and criticism. When addressing your visual que, your approach must be as an advocate for the operator. How can I help! If the operators see that identifying their section as behind brings help and assistance they will be motivated to “Flip their switch” and follow the program.
Just as important is when management does NOT respond when the operator indicates they are behind schedule. Non-response shows the operator that management doesn’t care about the schedule. This will quickly go through the entire organization and no one will care about the schedule and on time delivery to your customers. Immediate response with true help are essential. This is another opportunity to show everyone how important on time delivery is to you and your company.
Until someone finds a magic spell and achieves 100% On Time Delivery, good companys will always fight to achieve this lofty goal. At Ebsco we are utilizing our technology to build and manage production schedules, but when it comes down to day-to-day execution, we are keeping our solutions simple. Flip a switch. KISS. Immediate feedback allowing immediate action from the entire team.