Identify the opportunities for perfection

For people of a certain age, there was a certain way we learned how to do everything. To learn how to field ground balls and fly balls, I caught a lot of ground balls and fly balls. To learn to do multiplication, I ran down the multiplication tables. To spell, I got up in front of the class to participate in the spelling bee.

02/01/2010


 

For people of a certain age, there was a certain way we learned how to do everything. To learn how to field ground balls and fly balls, I caught a lot of ground balls and fly balls. To learn to do multiplication, I ran down the multiplication tables. To spell, I got up in front of the class to participate in the spelling bee.

There were certain actions, of course, which didn't require repetition. Touch the hot burner just once and you remember. Stick your tongue on the frozen flagpole just once, and you remember. Consume a lot of baby aspirin just once, and you remember. (I had a colorful childhood.)

The way I learned most things is through repetition. Repetition is precise, it is exacting, it is… dull. That doesn't make it ineffective; it just means it isn't exciting.

But I'm in a business, as you are, where getting it right wins accolades and is profitable, and getting it wrong is a quick ticket to doing something else. So we strive first to get perfect at those things we already do. As things change and improve, as new technology comes along, we also learn those processes and techniques and equipment.

There are people who learn quickly, and people who learn at their own pace. Some do better by playing around with the equipment. Some people want to go through the manual step-by-step.

What they all have in common, especially today, is that they don't want it to be dull. Engaged training, and engaged students, make for the most effective learning environment.

That's true in the educational classroom and it's true in the professional classroom. As we strive to attract young people to manufacturing, and as we strive to take advantage of the new technology in front of us, we need to make education an interactive, dynamic experience.

We shouldn't sacrifice making it fun for getting it right, however. Those multiplication tables, those spelling bees taught us the fundamentals we needed to have to succeed in the world. Getting those things right is a measure of our competence.

If you want an object lesson in this, consider the plight of Toyota. Long touted for its Six Sigma approach to manufacturing, they found themselves in February with a massive recall over a fundamental part of the automobile: the accelerator.

The cynics among us might take time to revel in Toyota's struggles. The realists among us in manufacturing should be looking to the sky that this wasn't their problem. More correctly, they should be looking at their own operation to find ways so that it doesn't happen to them one day.

This month's cover story on root cause analysis tries to take that dynamic approach to an important but sometimes mundane process of fixing mistakes. In reality, as the article notes, the mistake is the genie out of the bottle %%MDASSML%% or the misspelled word on the cover of the magazine. It is gone and cannot be reclaimed. The opportunity to undo a mistake is gone. The opportunity to not repeat a mistake is right in front of you.

The goal of root cause analysis, as with all kinds of training, is to identify the opportunity for perfection and do everything you can to achieve that perfection, every time. The article correctly notes that humans make human error. There is no perfection. That actually makes striving for the goal of perfection all the more vital. The greater the emphasis on the end result, the greater the attention to detail.

If you told your team that they needed to get one day's worth of product out the door with absolutely no defects %%MDASSML%% and that includes on time, with no waste %%MDASSML%% would they be well-trained enough to do it? Do they have the confidence in their skills? Do you?

Especially if the answer to the last question is no, it's time to take a fresh look at engaging your staff in training. As manufacturing facilities ramp back up production, it's a perfect opportunity to make sure their skills are sharp.

We've long emphasized the importance of maintenance. It's not a sometime thing, and it shouldn't happen only when something breaks or wears down. Training is maintenance for your workers. You have the chance to give those workers the confidence to reach for that perfection.

 





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
Inside IIoT: How technology, strategy can improve your operation; Dry media or web scrubber?; Six steps to design a PM program
World-class manufacturing: A recipe for success: Finding the right mix for a salad dressing line; 2015 Salary Survey: Manufacturing slump dims enthusiasm
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming
Managing automation upgrades, retrofits; Making technical, business sense; Ensuring network cyber security
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
click me