Last night I was butchering two deer that my son and I shot in the weekend. Two whole animals take up a large space in our kitchen. Before we made the first knife cut we worked out a process of how we would butcher the meat with minimal movement and lifting. By reducing these two aspects of the job it was completed quickly and efficiently. I liken this to glass and window factories – the good ones are well thought out and you don't see a lot of staff movement between machines and around the factory. The staff are in position doing their work.
When factory staff in glass and window factories are standing in one position doing their work we gain many benefits. These include :
1. Improved productivity by that staff member
2. Reduced disruption to other staff members
3. Improved health and safety (mostly)
4. Improved quality
On a blog a couple of years ago I challenged glass and window factory managers to track the movement of their staff around their factories for a day, and record how much time is spent walking around. For most roles walking around is downtime in terms of production, but incurs the same costs. Once you know the times and the costs you can look at ways to reduce movement, and in many cases that "expensive" piece of factory handling or storage equipment suddenly becomes very affordable. In fact it becomes essential.
Taking this to the next level, how about spreadsheeting the time spent by each staff member away from their workstation, and send me a copy. I'll do my best to work on solutions for the biggest offenders which will reduce their downtime cost.