HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED YOUR PROCESS?. The answer may well be out there BUT it probably lies within your existing Process!
Work Method Analysis
A major Food Manufacturer prepares and processes powder blends in a simple format with a separate preblend of minor components (Cpt A) being loaded into a Pre-hopper prior to the major component (Cpt B) being added to the final Mixing-hopper. The minor component was then added to the Mixing hopper and the components blended to make the final product.
A recommendation had been prepared for an uprating of the major component (Cpt B) transport system at some considerable expense as a means of uprating the front end plant capacity.
Following some discussion, Production personnel prepared a simple "Activity chart" with results as follows:
|Cpt A to Pre-hopper||24 min|
|Cpt B to Pre-hopper||18 min|
|Pre-hopper to Mixing hopper||6 min|
|Blending in Mixing Hopper||9 min|
|Quality control analysis||19 min|
|Empty Mixing hopper||6 min|
Rearranging the above process into simple unit functions through a “Flow diagram" it became apparent that the "Major component to Pre-hopper" was NOT the "Rate Limiting Step" and so while altering the "Major component transport system" would be of some assistance there were more cost effective and simpler methods for increasing the Process throughput.
A change to shorten the QC time to a localised Operator test reduces the elapsed time to 6 minutes at a minimal cost and alteration to the Cpt A loading system to match the Cpt B load rate with concurrent loading almost halved the Process cycle period.
These changes were at almost a quarter of the cost than the original proposal.
This case is not isolated and it is often worthwhile to use "Process simulation" and Work measurement techniques to understand your current Manufacturing Process and the effect of changes prior to the "BIG CAPITAL" decisions.
Of course this Engineering or Scientific approach to job design is not the only issue to be considered. The Process job times are not only a function of Machine capabilities but also a result of the Operator/Machine interface. For this reason the "Behavioural dimensions" of Job design must also be considered. Where the job is especially repetitive, boring or where the Operator interface can effect the overall Manufacturing efficiency the following techniques can be employed to reduce Production times and raise overall Production capacity.
Where undesirable aspects of a job cannot easily be removed and/or a specific Operator skill becomes crucial to the success of a Product, Job rotation may be appropriate
In typical mass production operations, where job dissatisfaction is evident due to too simplified tasks, enlarging the jobs through adding additional tasks or stimulation should be considered
This is a vertical shift in job enlargement where managerial tasks are added to improve motivation
Job redesign and Employee Participation
Recent research has suggested that core dimensions of Jobs can be redesigned to improve employee performance. These dimensions include variety, identity, significance, autonomy and feedback mechanisms of the task. Recent statistical feedback techniques used by industry are an example of this type of mechanism.
In summary to improve the Manufacturing performance the Manufacturing Manager should consider the Flow and Behavioural aspects of their Manufacturing Process prior to adopting the latest and greatest technical advancement as WHILE THE ANSWER MAY BE OUT THERE IT MORE OFTEN LIES WITHIN!