Don’t Let Excessive Motion Sabotage Your Operation

Posted by on Feb 25, 2015 in Continuous Improvement, Efficiency, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Process Improvement | 0 comments

Figure 1 - Before kaizen event

Figure 1 – Before kaizen event

A simple, but effective tool to help you eliminate waste due to motion is the spaghetti diagram.  You start by getting a layout of the area or by drawing a simple sketch.  The idea is to observe an employee perform a task and document all the movement the employee makes in performing that task.  Figure 1 is a spaghetti of a change over process on a machine.  As you can see there is a lot of movement from one station of the machine to another and also to a table and bench across the aisle where tools and supplies are kept.

The objective is to conduct a kaizen event and reduce the amount of movement (and time!) as much as possible.  Simple, inexpensive things can be done to reduce the amount of walking between the machine, the table and bench.  A cart can be used to move the tools, bolts, wrenches, etc. from one station to another so the operator has everything they need to do the job.  Tools can be mounted on the machine at the point of use so they are always there when needed.  As you can see in Figure 2, (see below) doing these simple things can substantially reduce the amount of movement thus saving valuable time.  Employees are happier, less tired, and less stressed at the end of the day all by taking some simple steps to make their job easier to do.

Spaghetti diagrams can also be used to show the movement of materials in a process.  I worked with a client a few years ago that had a three shift operation that started up on Sunday night at 11 pm.  There were 13 machines in the facility and within 15 minutes the first machine was up and running.  However, the 13th machine didn’t get up and running until two hours latter.  Come to find out, the operators greased their machines at start up and there was only one grease gun for the entire shop and had to be passed from one machine to the next.  Needless to say, the owner went crazy when he heard this and grease guns were bought the next day for each machine.

Figure 2 - After kaizen event

Figure 2 – After kaizen event

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