Turbo Leadership Systems

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June 5, 2012 Issue 383 To our clients and friends

Big Project Requires A First Step

Larry W. Dennis, Sr.
Turbo Leadership

Ring the neck of bottlenecks

Bob, the #1 coater operator at a hardboard plant in southern Oregon, told session 7B of the Leadership Development Lab (LDL):

“Larry challenged us at Session 3 of the LDL to identify a project that needed to be completed, one that we had been putting off, or one that was dragging on and on instead of reaching completion. My choice of an empowering assignment was spur of the moment, but reducing our changeover setup times is a Key Result Area (KRA), an imperative to continuous improvement and accelerating the success of our mill. Changeover setup time stoppages create bottlenecks and are a major constraint in our process. Changeovers stop upstream production and slow downstream performance. As we continue to expand our product line, add more SKU’s, our process becomes more complex, and changeover setup times are becoming a much bigger problem. Shorter runs are required for us to reduce inventories and respond ‘just in a time’ to our customer’s requirements, so shortening setup times was the goal I decided to apply 5X more enthusiasm toward.

“I started by talking with other operators. I quickly identified two setup areas that seem to be particularly problematic: Profiler/groover and paint centers. I decided to gather some baseline data on current performance. I began by tracking and charting setup down time each day for two weeks.

“The first thing I learned was that we have pretty big swings each day in both areas. These numbers, when trend charted, showed significant room for improvement, with an unacceptable amount of down time each month. With this new charted information in hand, we scheduled paint operator and groover operator meetings with all shifts to brainstorm ideas we could use to reduce set-up downtime. We have gathered a lot of ideas with many that have the seed of great potential. It has only been 4 weeks since I stated this project

and we have already found some but not all of the answers to reducing our setup time. Whatever changes we ultimately make have a much better chance of buy-in and engaged, committed action needed to ensure success. This project will be ongoing and requires a long term commitment from everyone who is part of the production process.

“The lesson I learned from this experience is that when I commit to a goal, employ empowering leadership practices and am willing to commit for the long haul, I can make an important difference.

“The action I call you to take is don’t just talk the talk; WALK THE WALK! Don’t just identify problems that need to be fixed and then throw your hands up in despair. Instead, go into action, do what you can do with five times more enthusiasm. The benefit you will gain is the sense of empowerment that comes from being a part of the solution, pride in yourself and the respect of others.”

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