Updated: Jul 28
If most of our money is in our material, then why is it the last thing we engineer at the cell?
A lean manufacturing flow must have an effective part presentation to the operator.
We know the operator Value Added operation is the priority, but when it comes to material, we often do not know how to translate that into a competitive strategy.
If the operator must count, repackage, move, or process used boxes, then we have not done our job as lean engineers. We have the endless task of taking all of those non cyclicals away from the honorable production operator. Give it all to someone else and watch your throughput increase significantly.
Nothing is more personal to our colleagues than material flow on the shop floor. They all know and understand it is wrong to have any production downtime because they have run out of material or because they are waiting for a fork truck for on service demand.
It really annoys me to see operators leave the sanctity of their cells to walk over to a pallet of material and replenish themselves. At the same time, I can show you a fork truck driver somewhere with empty forks.
The concept of Primary Part Presentation and Secondary Part Presentation
You should always engineer flow to the operator so that he or she never stops. You must have zero tolerance on this issue. Primary and secondary means that they always load or unload from a primary location and have a secondary for backup nearby. In today’s competitive world, this means turntables and flow racks for totes. Sometimes it's even more creative than that. Challenge yourself and keep asking the operator if it is working for them.
Just because you have downtime on your lines, it should never be used to have your operators restock themselves, ever. If you subscribe to this methodology, then you need some good lean coaching.
Use your fork-truck driver or tugger driver to “service” the manufacturing cell. That means they need to get off their truck and take away empties, bring full containers, and process all waste in the cell. They might even have to do some recycling along the way.
Take a good look at your cells and see where the operators are placing their parts to load. This means they are talking to you. You may not know it, but they most definitely are.
Also start to look at putting parts into, but out of the way of the operator walk pattern. This alone can save them a bunch of time per cycle.
Part Presentation as an Art Form
A good place to start is with totes on a flow rack. Give them 2-4 hours of stock and do not forget the return lane for empties at the top or bottom of the rack design.
Pipe rails are a creative method if it is supporting the cell from outside to the inside. Do not clog up my walk pattern for the operator please.
4-6” PVC pipe can be elbowed into position for clips, studs, or nuts if the operator needs them. Remember – from outside in.
Flow material through the fencing to the operator closest to the point of use. If you get a safety buy-off, then do not let me get in your way………….
Standard Work in Process. Sometimes you may need some parts in between. Just because you put the last part on the pipe rail inside your line, does not mean you cannot take one from the other side on the other end to load into the next machine.
Part presentation within the operator walk pattern is better than inside the tooling fixture or from the side. Sometimes the operator needs to pick it up and orient it properly for a good load. Remember to feed material from the outside and place the operators on the inside. You do not want a material handler to break the operator’s rhythm and routine.
Off the top of your head – which of your cells needs help with part presentation?
Why do you as a leader live with this when you know that there is a solution?
How much time do your operators spend on material handling?
Do you have operator stack charts completed for each station with VA and NVA designations and percentages?
We at Dynamic Improvement Group are part presentation experts, and we would like to help you with yours…