From Stagnation 🤔 to Innovation 🔥 checklist for your factory facility

Some companies get stuck in a way of working or setup they have had for years. At some point, they become blind to where improvement is possible, leading to stagnation. It is as if they are walking with blinders on, staying on the beaten path, and just not noticing what could be improved for years.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes all it takes is a little trigger to get the fire back in sight and get going.

Although my focus is on digitization, I fully understand that it goes hand in hand with the layout and organization on the shop floor; it affects product quality, employee satisfaction, customer image and more.

To get back into an organized, modern and innovative flow, I’ll give you an abbreviated checklist that I usually go through to evaluate how well the plant is already set up.

This combination of basic principles from 5S, LEAN, Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) and Toyota Quality Management (TQS) is a good starting point for getting the most impactful things in order.

The checklist

Walk through the plant hall with a colleague (and preferably someone from outside the company) and start with the incoming raw material, then go through the process up to delivery and ask all these questions:

  • Does the plant have a physical logical flow? Does the raw material come in at one end and go out as a finished product at the other end? Often it goes in a U-shape.
  • Are all locations marked on the floor, in shelves and with signs on the ceiling? Consider warehouses, intermediate storage, as well as recycling and waste bins, etc.
  • Are the locations respected? Is there only raw material in the material rack? Is there only a finished product on the shipping rack? Are there no loose products against the walls, etc.? Is there nothing stacked with pallets?
  • Do all products have a (digital) work order, label and/or sticker that can be traced back to salesman and work planner in case of questions? Is there a bar code on it? Is it suitable for traceability? You must be able to immediately identify each unique product: what it is, who it is for and where it is going.
  • Is the plant divided into logical production cells according to Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM)? Are these cells visually distinguishable? You should be able to immediately see how many intermediate stocks you have and whether they are waiting for capacity in the next operation, or whether they are just inactive.
  • Are workstations equipped with work instructions, manuals and clear shadow boards? The acid test is this: when a new employee joins tomorrow, can he become familiar with his workplace, or does he have to report to the foreman, colleagues or to you and search through the cabinets?
  • Are inventories counted, labeled and barcoded? Are there procedures for inventory management? Does everyone know what should and should not be kept? Of course, this should also match the ERP.
  • Is productivity visually visible? For example, is there a digital planning board in the hallway? Can machine activity be seen through the mushrooms on machines? Can the team see on a big screen what needs to be done today?

Where to start

Don’t know where to start improving? I would recommend starting with step 1 and going down the list chronologically; however, everything depends on having a clear strategy.

The better you know who you would like to help, how best to help them and how to get the best margins, the easier it is to set up your factory after that.

Do you have additions or questions in response to the above list? Click “respond” and let me know. Or schedule a call appointment.

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