So I have to apologize: I got so excited with the experience I had earlier this week with brewing my first beer batch and how helpful Matt was that I forgot to mention my thoughts on manufacturing concepts from that experience! Once you’ve forgiven me, I have to tell you that not only was I thrilled about all the new things I was learning in that experience, but I also felt relief from coming across a familiar environment that I had grown nostalgic for since my last production position. The moment I was around the stainless steel equipment with the familiar steam lightly grazing my skin and the hum of motors fighting to be heard over the radio playing on the intercom system I knew I was back in my element, true element, (yes, I’ll take that shaken, not stirred. Thank you).
Something I’m also not a stranger to, though I wouldn’t say it was “missed,” is the initially perceived chaos known as inventory control. Pallets, bags, notebooks, ingredients, cooking equipment, and indescribable objects all tossed together in what appears to be complete disarray on the factory floor! And that’s saying something, especially from a not-so-organized person who can never hope to achieve the greatness of their parent’s pinnacle “neat freak” status. Unfortunately, this is a fairly standard problem across most manufacturers, especially those who can’t afford a warehouse management system with barcode or RFQ scanning. It’s bound to happen that something is going to get misplaced, and fast!
Normally, this is where all manufacturing professionals pipe up with the phrases, “5S”, “6-sigma”, and “LEAN.” Even if you’re not in the industry, I’m sure most business professionals have at least heard of this and have a general idea of what it’s about: efficiency improvements and waste elimination, (a.k.a. a never-ending process). All of these tools are incredibly powerful, useful, and I recommend that everyone take at least a couple classes in the topics even if you don’t have any inclination to become certified. These tools can be used in every industry, every department, every job, every task, and every process to make our lives easier; you can even take the concepts home, but as I mentioned previously sometimes it sticks (my parent) aaand sometimes it doesn’t (me).
So where do most manufacturers fail at effectively integrating organized working (or home) environments and processes? My understanding through my experiences so far is that the discipline to be persistent and consistent with the new practices fails to make the new behaviors become habits. This is true across both new and well-established companies. It may be easier for new companies to set the record straight from the beginning through the initial culture development, but that doesn’t mean older companies are written off just yet. By constantly having the desired behavior encouraged and built-up through message signals, positive reinforcement, and leader demonstration the new habit will start to form throughout the organization. Behavior Science 101.
I understand there is a much deeper and more-detailed explanation to how greater efficiency can be achieved in manufacturing using the tools mentioned, (I mean there are degree programs on these topics!). But, like with any change it takes one step at a time and (in my opinion) the first step comes by understanding the internal needs (a.k.a. YOUR requirements) necessary. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” –Mahatma Gandhi
Please let me know your thoughts on forming good habits or tell me a time when you broke a bad habit, how you did it, and how you felt afterwards.
Photo Credit: http://www.trendkite.com/blog/6-bad-habits-of-pr-professionals-and-how-to-break-them