Shop floor questions find the right answers
But sometimes you have to accept that problem solving is not the sole preserve of the management team and that good ideas can come from anyone in a business, at any time; all you have to do is ask. It is an approach we adopted many years ago, but we were recently reminded of the benefits.
We compiled and distributed a questionnaire to everyone in our mould shop, to try and understand what was working well, what wasn’t and what improvements we could make. The mould shop team was polled because of the significant increase in the number and variety of components it is now expected to produce.
The mould shop was almost at capacity and so we recently installed another new Engel Victory 300, tie-bar-less injection moulding machine, to allow for more growth and greater efficiency. We have several and expected this new machine, coupled to its Viper 20 robot would slot straight in, with the mould shop team at full throttle from the start.
We quickly learnt from the questionnaire that no two machines are exactly the same, even from the same manufacturers. So, knowing we need to deliver more parts, more quickly, some for chrome plating and some to add to assemblies, the team wanted specific training by Engel engineers, so they could understand the machines in more detail and operate at optimum efficiency.
The new machines take bigger tools and thanks to our jib crane servicing these machines, these can be changed within 45 minutes. This represents half the previous best, using a portable A-frame to change tools on our older machines.
The training delivered by the Engel team was first class and instilled a great deal of confidence in our mould shop team. They learnt a lot of small adjustments can be made to fine-tune the production programmes, to ensure mouldings are of the highest quality, whether they go on to be chrome plated or not.
This valuable training ensures we not only have the additional capacity our growth requires, but our mould shop is working at optimal efficiency. And we reached this new peak thanks to asking the right questions, of the right people; those doing the work.
Admittedly we had to ignore the suggestions about adding a leisure club, bar and restaurant to our facility, but the suggestions that have helped us increase production efficiency proved worthwhile in the extreme.