PUTTING A STOP TO THE WORKAROUND FIX IT OR TOSS IT Do you have a tool that keeps malfunctioning, but you’ve never properly got it fixed? You get annoyed every time you go to use it, then you find a temporary solution, a workaround, and get by. You continue on until that workaround gives out, and then the cycle repeats itself. Just this morning, I attempted to use a utility knife to open some packaging. Now, every time I go to use this thing, it’s jammed. Each time, I get annoyed, fiddle with it, and try to use a pencil or other tool to unlock the safety mechanism and release it. Eventually I toss it aside and find something else to open the package. It’s a ridiculous cycle — and it’s even more absurd that I don’t have a Phillips screwdriver at the office to fix the knife. I’m pretty sure one of our employees who handles our shipping encounters the same problem. Since we don’t have a system in place, he falls into the same trap I do: finding a workaround instead of a solution. Do you have a process in place for reporting issues in your warehouse? Do your employees? Or do they just deal with the problem and find a temporary solution that gets the job done even if it’s not the most efficient method? While part of the issue here is not having the right tools, the bigger problem is not having the right system in place. As soon as we know there’s an issue with the knife, we should have
a system in place to fix it. If it can be repaired, that’s great. We’ll fix it and continue to use it. If not, we’ll toss it and go to our designated cabinet, marked to indicate there are more knives inside, and get a new one. We’ll also fill out a form to indicate that we’ve taken one from the cabinet. This form includes the SKU number, so the buyer can easily order more when it comes time. 5S is all about continuous improvement. If something isn’t working, someone needs to speak up. 5S goes beyond just steps and cues; there needs to be a culture where employees feel empowered to point out problems. When people are not comfortable, they tend to find a way to work with the challenges instead of finding a solution. I’m as guilty as anyone, as that utility knife goes to show you. I sit there stalling a lot of higher priority tasks while trying to rebuild the knife. Minor calls like that don’t require my involvement, but we do need SOP in place to make those efficient improvements.
So, you know what I’m doing right now? I’m tossing out the knife. Then I’m going to make sure we have extra knives stocked and put a visual aid of the equipment on the outside of the closet where they’re stored. That way, my shipper knows exactly where to find them. It’s in line with 5S best practices. We should have a replacement for anything in the stock room in case it breaks, labels to know where they go, and the SKU numbers available so we can easily order more. Inside this newsletter, you can read more about a tool that will improve equipment effectiveness at your facility. I’m excited to see what you think. Then you’ll hear from a total productive maintenance (TPM) expert on why you need to make sure your warehouse is shining for inspections.
Until next month,
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