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.

 





Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
October 2018
Tools vs. sensors, functional safety, compressor rental, an operational network of maintenance and safety
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
July/Aug
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
October 2018
Complex upgrades for system integrators; Process control safety and compliance
September 2018
Effective process analytics; Four reasons why LTE networks are not IIoT ready

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
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 Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
click me