Standardizing for success

Implement a systematic way to perform tasks and maintain equipment.

10/02/2015


It’s critical to the mission of standardization that all employees be engaged in making decisions when implementing the processes. Courtesy: SCA Hygiene ProductsStandardization facilitates a lean, efficient, and functional workplace. It enables quick transitions between personnel who perform the same task, increases production speed, and improves product quality through a consistent application of tools. In fact, standardization often results in improved workplace culture, as managers and employees find that their jobs are simplified and their everyday tasks streamlined.

As one of the elements of the 5S process, Standardization (along with Sort, Set in Order, Shine, and Sustain)helps businesses eliminate waste and improve workplace efficiency, customer service, and product consistency.

To standardize, plant management must engage with their teams to set up machines in a consistent way and use tools in a uniform manner. Although these changes may require employees to sacrifice their individual approach to performing tasks, uniform practices and procedures create a more productive workplace.

Less waste, greater productivity

Standardization improves productivity and employee morale by eliminating inefficient and frustrating practices. When machines and tools are used in the same way and stored in the same place, employees are more productive. When a machine remains on a uniform setting, time is not lost to adjusting it to individual preferences.

When a tool is always stored in the same place, there is no need to search for a wayward item. Furthermore, when equipment is operated, maintained, or cleaned in a consistent manner, the resulting products are more uniform, predictable, and of a consistent quality.

Breaking old habits

To reap the benefits of standardization, plant management needs to overcome the challenges of implementing a new way of working. The process of changing ingrained approaches and behaviors can be complicated, so management needs to be disciplined and committed to working with employees throughout the transition period. Let's face it: It's never easy to change even one person's habits, let alone a group of people with various preferences and routines.

Plant management must understand and clearly communicate the benefits of the new system for all employees, and employees must understand "what's in it for them."Standardization cannot be pushed down from the top; it must be embraced among the employees who are carrying out tasks.

New standards

While implementation challenges exist, there are several ways plant managers can successfully support a standardized plant. When implementing a new model with new standards, plant managers are asking their engineers to compromise on personal preferences for the greater good. Therefore, it's critical that plant managers involve employees in making standardization decisions. It is best to bring together all stakeholders-people who use a machine as well as clean it-to create a dialogue that will ensure that the new methods work best for everyone. Managers should also visit sites that have benefited from standardization, to see and experience how it functions over time. In this case, seeing is believing.

Stocking for standardization

When introducing standardization at a plant, there are additional factors for managers to consider that can affect purchasing decisions. These factors are products, packaging, and storage, all three of which are also essential to the production process.

Plant managers can increase efficiency and decrease costs by thinking critically about the tools bought and used for production. Be selective: choose products that are task-specific, purpose-made, and of consistent quality. By using a task-based-designed product like an industrial-grade disposable wiper, employees expend less time and energy to complete tough tasks when compared to using less uniform alternatives, like rental-shop towels and rags. Using high-quality, task-based tools helps to ensure a high-quality end product, because consistent tools yield consistent outputs.

The two other factors to consider are packaging and storage. Ineffective product packaging creates unnecessary mess, while non-standardized product placement causes wasted motion and energy for employees. In a standardized workplace that operates with high-performance tools, employees should be able to access needed products from a space-efficient dispenser instead of searching through piles for a suitable solution. Standardized, convenient storage locations for specific tools and products—as well as the use of product dispensers that take up less space—allow managers to create a more organized plant floor with more efficient storage solutions.

Simplifying jobs

By creating standard practices, managers increase worker efficiency and productivity and improve product quality through a consistent application of tools. Managers and employees will find that their jobs are simplified, which improves workplace culture. It's important to communicate benefits to all employees, work with employees to develop the new standards, and stay committed to making the change stick when implementing the standardization process.

And don't just stop at process. Upgrade products, packaging, and storage to make the most of the newly standardized workplace. The implementation process is the ideal time to make changes to these important features of any workplace.

David Welsh is the manufacturing excellence manager at SCA Hygiene Products in North America. Welch has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Delaware and an MBA from Widener University.

The Bottom Line: 

  • Standardization often results in improved workplace culture, as managers and employees find that their jobs are simplified and their everyday tasks streamlined.
  •  To reap the benefits of standardization, plant management needs to overcome the challenges of implementing a new way of working. The process of changing ingrained approaches and behaviors can be complicated, so management needs to be disciplined 
  • By creating standard practices, managers increase worker efficiency and productivity and improve product quality through a consistent application of tools. Managers and employees will find that their jobs are simplified, which improves workplace culture.

Key Words:

Here are some of the articles at www.plantengineering.com, KEYWORD: PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE that further discuss this topic:

Preventive maintenance the key to motor control center reliability

The low-voltage motor control center is a key element in electrical control systems because of the vital operating role they play in controlling motors and production processes. Over the years, MCCs have evolved from cabinets that housed basic electro-mechanical devices such as circuit breakers, contactors and overload relays to centers of automation that may include variable frequency drives, soft starters and programmable controllers.  http://www.plantengineering.com/industry-news/top-stories/single-article/preventive-maintenance-the-key-to-motor-control-center-reliability/5d274df16c.html 

Fine tuning your preventive maintenance schedule

A good CMMS system can deliver the information users need to better fine-tune their PM schedules. If a less-rigorous PM schedule gets the maintenance team slapped with a corrective work order, it's time to adjust. http://www.plantengineering.com/single-article/fine-tuning-your-preventive-maintenance-schedule/f7b8059301302fb1541befafcda38eb9.html

Oil analysis and preventive maintenance

Imagine the implications of neglecting to check the lubrication systems of plant equipment. Failure here would be both catastrophic and expensive. Not only because of the cost of repairing the physical damage, but also the time it takes to fix the problem and the revenue lost from the equipment not being in use. http://www.plantengineering.com/single-article/oil-analysis-and-preventive-maintenance/b59402535517ae897ba025afb0a79168.html 



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