Tag Archives: Nathanial Marshall

What does a ‘Standard Day’ look like for FLMs?

Written by Senior Consultant, Nathanial Marshall.

FLM_ShopfloorHow many fires have you put out today? Do you feel that the days are flashing by and you’re not getting anywhere? Shouldn’t you be adding value as a Front Line Manager?

Operators often tell us, “The managers are never out here, they are just sat in the office.” FLMs are equally frustrated with a feeling of no structure to their day and with little time to spend understanding the issues to drive performance because of “other things cropping up”.

This is why we recommend the ‘Standard Leader Day’ – a structured approach for a shift listing all the key value adding activity that an FLM should complete in their shift and an estimated time for each.

Having a standard approach will help FLMs structure their day, understand the issues on their plant and engage with their people. When followed properly it becomes instrumental for driving improvement and challenging the norms.

It doesn’t have to be restricted to FLMs, it should ideally be in place for all levels of management within the business and most importantly, it has to be audited regularly. If the ‘Standard Day’ is not being achieved, ask yourself and your management team why? What else is happening in your day that is more important?

It will drive meetings to be more effective, ensure you are only at the meetings that are essential to your day, and highlight when other functions are not supporting your operators as they should. It allows the FLMs to challenge back to their own manager. “If you want me to take that on, which of the essential items in my Standard Day would you like me to drop.” It also allows and encourages positive challenge in both directions.

Probably the most important element is to walk the plant at least 3 times a shift. The walk around should:

  • Follow a structured approach
  • Be planned at set times
  • Check speeds, output, and product specs, and
  • Most importantly, facilitate engagement with operators.

The walks allow you to have presence as well as just being “present”. The more you do them, the more open the operators will become and this increased engagement will help support your future improvement initiatives.

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A 3 step process to save time

Written by Nathanial Marshall, Senior Consultant at Lauras International.

StopWatchRecently, whilst running an improvement workshop, there was a delegate who turned up late every day. After a myriad of excuses and some not so light insults from his colleagues, I attempted to get to the bottom of why he was failing to turn up on time. He stated that he doesn’t have enough time to do everything he needs to do in the morning, leaves the house late and thus misses his bus.

I first suggested that he set his alarm earlier in a morning. That did not go down well at all. He craves his sleep and wanted to ensure he was fully rested for his days carrying out improvement activities in the workshop. Then I thought to myself, why not get him try to utilise one of our improvement tools in his morning routine?

Using Cycle Time Reduction (CTR) he would be able to get up at the usual time, complete his morning routine in full, leave the house on time and arrive at work promptly for the start of the workshop. Everyone is a winner!

Firstly, I got him to make a list of all the tasks he completed in a morning, how long each one took, and when they started and ended relative to the time he wakes up.

We then mapped these out visually on a Gannt chart.

I asked him to look for any critical paths i.e. any activity that needs to be completed in sequential order. Once he had identified these, we could look to see if there were any activities that could be completed whilst he was busy with other parts of his routine.

Unbelievably, we found he took his shower, prepared his lunch and then put the coffee machine on to boil. So we looked at how we could reduce the time spent on this sequence and identified an easy 8 minutes he could get back…

By putting the coffee machine to automatically boil ready for the time he finishes his shower, he could shave a vital 3 minutes from his morning routine. Fixing his lunch and packing his bag the night before would save another 5 minutes.

Making these small alterations (and a few others) to his process, our delegate was able to arrive early every day for the rest of the Workshops.

CTR can be used on any manufacturing process (continuous or non-continuous) to reduce the amount of time taken for that process to be completed. For example, it might be used to reduce the time taken for a case packer to complete its cycle or reduce the time taken for a plant to changeover between products. Applying CTR on your production line can provide significant throughput improvements.

It is a simple 3 step process

  1. Define the current cycle
  2. Map the current cycle
  3. Optimise the current cycle

For more on this tool and how to apply it, check out our Improvement Toolkit >