Production Machining

MAY 2016

Production Machining - Your access to the precision machining industrial buyer.

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Find Five Ways to Solve a Problem Problems present themselves in any business, and our ability to anticipate them and solve them quickly is a signifcant diferentiator between average and world class. By Matt Kirchner CONTRIBUTOR Matt Kirchner is managing director of Proft360, LLC, a Wisconsin-based strategic advisor to U.S. Manufacturers; and is CEO of American Finishing Resources, LLC. Contact :: As I lamented my fatigue resulting from dealing with business problems, a mentor once asked me why I didn't apply for a job delivering pizzas. Responding to my quizzical expression, he said, "Problems are a normal part of business. If you don't want to deal with problems, fnd a job delivering pizzas." (Note: Please don't send me emails defending pizza delivery people. If you feel the need to rise to their defense, you've missed the point of the story.) Indeed, problems present themselves in any business, and our ability to anticipate them and solve them quickly can be a signifcant diferentiator between average and world class. With regard to their solutions, a tool I have used success- fully in the brainstorming phase of Kaizen and Continuous Improvement events can also be an efective method to fnd problem solutions. Te tool begins with the premise that the frst suggested solution to a problem is often not the best. Many times, when a problem presents itself, a team adopts the solution that is voiced by the frst team member to suggest one or by the team member with the most forceful sugges- tion, losing the oppor- tunity to consider other, possibly better, solutions. Rather than jumping to the frst or most force- fully suggested solution, I encourage my teams to "fnd fve ways" to solve the problem. Take a signifcant order for a challenging part that has been expedited late in the day by a major customer who insists that the order must be available by noon the following day. Te frst recommendation is that meeting the request is "impossible," and that the customer should be contacted and the expedite request denied. Te potential downside of this suggestion is likely angering a valuable customer. A second suggestion is to break into an order currently running on the machine on which the expedite would be run and to process the expedite and meet the customer request. Tis has the clear beneft of satisfying the customer whose order has been expedited, though with the risk of missing the due date of the customer whose product is currently running and with added cost. Perhaps a third suggestion is to keep several frst-shift team members for several hours past their scheduled shift to run the order. Tis option meets the new lead time, but requires several employees to work a long day on short notice and on overtime wage rates. A fourth suggestion is to run the high stakes, challenging expedite order on third shift so that it will be ready the following morning. Tis solution adds the risk that a less experienced, less supported third-shift operator could make an error and compound the problem. A ffth and fnal idea is to run the order on a less efcient piece of equipment that would facilitate meeting the expedite, albeit at higher cost or perhaps even negative margin. None of these fve suggestions is perfect, though most business leaders would agree that suggestions two through fve are preferable to the frst one. With all fve on the table, the team is in a position to make a much better decision than if it had simply accepted the frst suggestion. Perhaps the benefts of several suggestions could be combined into a course of action that is better than any of the fve individually. In our scenario, the best aspects of two ideas might be combined into a separate solution with one volunteer from frst shift agreeing to work with the third shift team to ensure that a more experienced team member is on hand while it is running. Tis solution reduces the risk of a quality issue, and since only one team member is working extra time, the fnancial overtime impact is reduced. Here again, this option would never have been considered had the team stopped at the frst option. Problems are a normal part of leading and managing any business, and solving them quickly and efectively can make a diference between an average and high performing organi- zation. Te next time a problem comes the way of your team, "fnd fve ways" to solve it, and pick the best solution(s). Once the problem is resolved, don't forget to throw a pizza party to celebrate. ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS 24 PRODUCTION MACHINING :: MAY 2016

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