Category “Lean Systems”

History of Setpoint Ammunition Manufacturing Equipment

May 28, 2014 by Nick

Ammo Case Forming MachineIn the early 1940s, mass-production ammunition manufacturing systems were complex assembly lines of crank presses, leather-belt driven lathes, batch processing, and loose tolerances. Quality was literally “inspected into the product” by humans sorting through all the finished cartridges, gauging and measuring to determine if a given part was “within spec” and then discarding the ones that fell outside of the established ranges. Sixty five years later, by 2007, this antiquated manufacturing process…….was exactly the same.

In 2008 the US Army commissioned Setpoint Systems to look at the entire process of case manufacturing from a whole new perspective. Utilizing lean manufacturing principles and over 20 years of automation experience, Setpoint Systems developed an automated case manufacturing system that has finally ushered the ancient art of case forming into the 21st century. By combining key principles of renowned lean manufacturing principles with our extensive automation experience in aerospace, automotive, and medical industries, Setpoint Systems has now set the bar to an unprecedented level for precision case manufacturing. And not only are the cases that come out of the Setpoint system more precise and consistent, they’re cheaper to make too. And the benefits don’t stop there.

By design, the case line equipment is able to produce parts at whatever rate of demand that the market currently dictates. This allows you to quickly eliminate all those nasty hidden inventory costs and the space required to store it. Think of it as “Just In Time Ammo”.

The Setpoint case forming system is controlled with industrial Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), consequently, modifications to processing parameters such as changing pocket depth, head diameter, and/or Case Cell Electrical Paneloverall length (OAL) of the cases can be achieved with mere computer key strokes rather than specialty tools, skilled labor, and a week of down time. Sounds more like a true 21st century process now, doesn’t it?

By integrating all the case forming processes into one machine, a whole litany of product inspections are also able to be integrated into the process. This eliminates the need for human inspections after the processes are complete, and consequently provides a level of quality assurance never before realized in the industry. Because these automated inspections are completed in real-time, during the process, the chance of passing inferior parts downstream is virtually eliminated. Setpoint’s proprietary in-process tracking logic ensures that every part meets or exceeds quality standards after each step of the process, and that non-conforming material is immediately recognized and properly dispositioned out of the system. The end result is a higher level of quality and consistency and therefore, more cost effective manufacturing.

Benefits of Setpoint Ammunition Manufacturing Equipment

 

Throughout the engineering and design process, Setpoint thoroughly examined every step of the legacy case forming process. Each individual sub-process was completely dissected and examined in great detail. The team was looking for ways to improve on the existing methods, as well as ways to integrate all of the processes together in a single-part flow process. The results of this effort were all of the aforementioned process enhancements, as well as a dramatic decrease in the amount of space required for a case line system.
Some of the specific improvements of the Setpoint case forming system worth noting are:

  • Reduced scrap production
  • Reduced labor requirementsFinished Brass Cases
  • Reduced inventory expensesFinished Brass Cases
  • Increase in product quality
  • 70% reduction in floor space requirements
  • Increased equipment up time
  • Increased flexibility in production and planning
  • 3 washes eliminated
  • 97% reduction of manual transportation
  • In-process automated quality inspection

 

Setpoint has taken lessons learned from the LCAAP project and refined each process for our second generation case manufacturing equipment, to consistently manufacture brass cartridge cases to an even higher quality standard than current Mil-Std.  In addition to case manufacturing, Setpoint has taken the time to understand and refine the process for taking the finished case to fully loaded ammunition in the development of the ammo primer and ammo loader.  Now you can set up your ammunition production from start to finish with Setpoint.

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The 80-20 Pareto Principle

June 26, 2013 by Clark

Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? It is a term used to describe the 80-20 rule. The 80-20 rule can be applied to every manufacturing process (make to order, make to stock, engineer to order, assemble to order, etc. Applying the 80-20 rule to the 5M’s of manufacturing will maximize your company’s success and profitability.

MAN (Labor)
The 80-20 rule suggests that 20% of our labor contributes 80% of your company’s success. If this is true, your focus needs to be on getting the other 80% of your labor to perform as competently or efficiently as those who are showing to be high level performers.

This could simply be a matter of training to bring skill sets up to par, or managing your labor better so everyone knows what is expected and they are held accountable to perform their assigned tasks on time and to the level of completeness the company expects.

It may be required to implement a better hiring procedure to ensure the labor being hired has the skill set or ability to learn and perform at the level that is expected and ultimately demands.

Methods (Processes)
The 80-20 rule suggests that 20% of your methods and processes are solid and robust while 80% of them may not be providing the level of results you expect or require. If this is the case, your focus might turn toward analyzing the methods and processes used in your company and finding out which methods need to be overhauled or modified to allow a higher percentage of success in your business.

Machines (Equipment)
The 80-20 rule suggests that 20% of your machines are responsible for 80% of the value added content of producing your product. Another possibility is that 20% of your machines are producing 80% of your overall scrap.

In both situations, your goal should be to standardize your machines/equipment, as much as possible to remove any variation in quality, throughput, up time, floor space, etc. Monitoring and tracking the overall performance of each of your machines will allow you to better understand which machines are contributing positively or negatively. Once this is known, your action plan of attack to solve machine issues will be much more guided and effective in making the improvements necessary to realize the continuous improvement you desire.

Materials
The 80-20 rule suggests that 20% of your material accounts for 80% of the cost of your product. Or that 20% of your materials cause 80% of your quality defect issues. Another may be that 20% of your material costs 80% of the overall shipping costs for inbound products.

In all of these examples, understanding which materials fall into an 80-20 category will allow you to further investigate what can be done to improve your overall variances in your raw materials.

Money
The 80-20 rule suggests that 20% of your products contribute 80% of your profits or sales or growth. Whatever it is, the goal would be to find ways to increase the sales, production and distribution of your top money making products.

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The Toyota Production System – Why Does it Work?

March 13, 2013 by Roger

The Japanese are legendary for efficiency and quality standards, and Toyota has been a global leader in these areas for decades. Their “Toyota Production System” (TPS) principles have fostered manufacturing efficiency and quality standards that far exceed the average.

So what is it that has made Toyota so successful? How does their style and system promote the innovation and consistency that have becomes Toyota’s unofficial trademark?

The truth is that the TPS system is much more than just a manufacturing “system”. It’s actually a complex core business culture. And Toyota immerses their people with their culture and it’s principles at every possible opportunity. 

Rather than try to analyze all of the relevant TPS principles here, instead let’s focus on just two of the keys that I think are absolutely essential to the program:

  1. Encouraging and allowing ideas to bubble up from the bottom. Supervisors listen to what the line workers are saying, and good ideas from employees get implemented quickly. 
  2. Empowering ALL workers to stop production at any time if there’s a perceived problem. If a worker sees something that doesn’t look right, they have the power and the responsibility to stop the line so the problem can be addressed. This empowerment actually runs counter to some of the popular thinking of a few decades ago. Not that long ago the prevailing wisdom was that you needed to eliminate as much human influence from manufacturing as possible. The thinking was that humans introduced too many variables, so minimizing that influence would make for more consistent manufacturing. For the most part, that sort of thinking hasn’t been real successful. 

 

The Toyota Way requires more dependence on people, not less. TPS depends heavily on the workers to identify hidden problems and to fix those problems. Engineers, quality people, vendors, management, and (most importantly) operators are all involved in continuous problem solving and improvement, which over time encourages everyone to become better problem solvers. It’s truly the people who bring the TPS system to life. It’s a system designed to provide the tools and environment for people to continually improve their work and the products that result from their work. The workers within a TPS system have an innate sense of urgency, purpose, and teamwork, and those things almost always translate into pride and craftsmanship in one’s work.

In the end, it’s ALWAYS the people that make or break any system. Toyota figured that out, built a culture around it, and made it work for them. Empower the people and let them improve the process on a daily basis. Pretty crazy concept, huh?

Kudos to Toyota for cutting against the grain on this one!

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Productivity

January 16, 2013 by MarkC

Throughout history, free societies have enjoyed remarkable progress in living standards. In the United States, advances in medicine have improved life expediency from 49 years in 1900, to 77 years at the end of the century. Modern conveniences in our homes such as electricity, indoor plumbing, refrigeration for perishable foods, as well as heating and air-conditioning have brought unforeseen comfort to our lives. Conveniences in travel with cars, aircraft and interstate highways have made it possible to be anywhere in the world in less than a day.

Imagine what someone from the mid-eighteenth century would think if he could observe life today. Aside from his astonishment of the technological advances that provide convenience to life, he would marvel at the availability of the products today. Not just to the wealthy or an exclusive class of aristocracy, these goods and services are available to everyone. As an example, as of year 2000, 92% of the households in America had color televisions.

The instrument making this possible is a free market, and serving as a catalyst are entrepreneurs with new ideas for improved products and services. Of course none of this would be possible without consumers and their continual demand for better, faster and cheaper. Henry Ford’s story provides a good example. Ford didn’t provide a grand revolutionary leap in technology, the model T was a simple car, easy to maintain. His role in history was the development of mass production, making the car affordable for the common man. In some respects his efforts to lower production costs were as dramatic as the invention of the automobile. He did it by developing the assembly line and vertical integration, which in turn dramatically improved labor efficiency. Between 1910 and 1914 Ford was able to reduce the average time to build a Model T from 12.5 hours to 93 minutes, an 800% improvement in productivity.

Productivity is defined as a ratio of production output, compared with a critical input. Typically, but not always, the critical input is labor hours or minutes. In Ford’s Model T example above, productivity changed from 12.5 hours/car to 1.55 hours/car. Companies with high product variety, such as fast food restaurants or job shops, may measure it as revenue/hour. Factories with standard costing techniques may measure productivity as a percentage of actual labor hours compared with a standard or estimate. An employee that takes .9 hours to finish a job estimated at 1.0 hour is 111% productive.

An opportunity for aggressive productivity metrics is with companies seeking low cost labor solutions to compete in price sensitive markets. Before making the costly step of moving overseas, try measuring productivity and drive the organization for “step change” improvement. There are organic options for reducing labor costs. Some possibilities include: product redesign, consolidating products into a standard model, lean manufacturing techniques and equipment automation. Opening and maintaining a plant in another country is not a painless undertaking. The costs are significantly higher than expected, and companies end up losing valuable agility.

No matter the company or business category, every company can and should measure productivity. First is to identify the output, most importantly identify an output the customer views as value added. If the company makes widgets, then the output is widgets. Revenue works for some businesses, we know customers value money. Second, compare it with direct time. It’s advisable to exclude G&A hours; direct employees responsible for completing tasks need to know how they are performing. And third, chart productivity in a trend chart with time (weeks, months or years) as the x axis. We motivate what we measure. Everyone wants to improve; companies need to show the score to employees.

Setpoint Systems is in the business of providing productivity improvement through automation solutions. For twenty years their strong team of engineers and experienced technicians has supported a sophisticated customer base with cost effective results. We understand that at the end of each project our customers demand equipment that pays for itself. Gains in productivity provide this payback.

What are you doing to be more productive at your company?  How are you measuring your success?

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The Discipline of Sustaining Lean Principles

July 13, 2012 by Roger

You and your company have just taken the big leap into the alluring land of lean manufacturing. You’ve spent some big money on developing your plan, training your people, redesigning your workstations, and implementing Kaizan, kanban and quality improvement programs. Now you can just sit back and watch it all happen in a ‘lean manner’ while the money rolls in, right? Ummmmm, no……that’s not quite how it works. Once you’ve got your lean system in place, the real work has just begun. Sustaining all of the newly implemented rules, guidelines and procedures over the long run is where you’ll really earn your keep. Or not earn your keep, such as the case may be.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen companies spend hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars converting their world over to a lean environment only to have it stumble and sometimes even fail during the first year or two of implementation. Why does this happen? Well, sometimes it’s the oldest reason in the book: human nature. Just because the physical tools, policies and procedures are in place for a lean manufacturing paradise doesn’t mean that it’s just going to chug on to victory on its own. Before that’ll happen you’ll need to make sure that you’ve got this tricky human nature part fully covered (if that’s even possible).

The most preventable failures that I’ve encountered on lean implementation efforts over the years have all been directly attributable to a lack of discipline in sustaining the program and its procedures. Oftentimes people and companies can quickly become less than diligent in following the core principles and guidelines of their lean manufacturing plan, and their products and profits almost always pay the price when this happens. If you think about it this way, it’s actually quite simple: How can you expect to consistently control the quality of your product if your processes are inconsistent? How can you expect consistent performance from your team if you don’t consistently maintain their working environment? If you set the rules and then nobody follows them, are they really even rules? This sort of nasty bug can debilitate an infant lean company in the blink off an eye.

During the first year of a lean implementation program there is invariably a large amount of pain and discomfort for the people working within the system. Some of it is real and tangible pain, as new skill requirements and streamlined processes usually require all personnel to “step up their game a notch”. And some of it is classic imaginary pain of the “who moved my cheese?” variety that humans often experience when faced with change. Whether it be real or imagined, when this pain becomes more and more palpable for the rank and file team members, newly implemented processes can often become compromised.

When a dramatic process change happens, some experienced personnel tend to think along the lines of “well, this new step is a pain in the butt. I think I’ll leave that part out of our process. This is much more efficient if we do it the old way.” And sometimes, on some specific processes, they may even be technically correct. The old way may be faster and/or more efficient. But what are often lost during these “process adaptations on the fly” are steps that were implemented by a manufacturing engineer in order to support or integrate with another part of the lean process. A step that may seem meaningless, redundant or irrelevant to one phase of a process may actually be critical to another phase. If given too much latitude, well-meaning employees have been known to “tweak” the new process so much that it actually damages the lean implementation effort. And within a year, they’re back to doing everything the old way. After all, who wants to spend every day looking for their cheese, right?

I ran across a good example of this phenomenon a few years ago while working on a new production line at a company that was new to the concepts of lean thinking. The customer had brought us in to consult on lean process development, as well as to build some new lean workstations for the assembly of their product. One of the workstations had a complex set of chemical dispensers that would digitally measure very precise amounts of certain compounds to get an exact mixture of a volatile component. The whole idea of this workstation was to take the inconsistent human element out of the mixing process, thereby making the compounds more consistent.

Once the compounds were metered and dispensed, a high-resolution scale would cross-check the weight to the amount that was metered. The new process required exact weights every time, or the logic would shut down the machine and reject the batch. The process was very reliable, and the logic appeared foolproof. The workstation was quickly put into service with the highest of hopes for instant process quality improvement. After the first week of production, it appeared that the new process was a raging success. The precision dispensing and weighing of the materials was delivering a more consistent performing compound than the customer had ever produced previously. Everyone was ecstatic.

Within a few weeks, things began to change. The product slipped back to similar levels of inconsistency that had been measured from the old process. The ‘great solution’ had belly-flopped, and nobody understood why. After a lengthy investigation it was discovered that the lead operator (who, not coincidentally was always considered the old process “expert”) had decided that he could tell with his eye what mixtures were required better than any fancy dispensers and scales could ever know. From the very beginning this well-meaning expert had felt that the machine-mixed compound was incorrectly configured. “It just wasn’t the right color”, is what he later told us. So after a week or so of painfully watching the ‘incorrect’ new compound ship out, he took matters into his own hands. After a machine-mixed batch of the compound was completed, our expert would carry it to a workbench and mix in additional amounts of components to get the color of the compound back to what he considered correct. Once again, consistency met an agonizing death at the brutal hands of the human well-meaner. Unfortunately, it’s an all too common tale.

How can you and your company avoid this sort of disastrous outcome? Setup your lean practices in great detail from day one. Document the procedures that you expect your team to follow and then stick to the established procedures faithfully. Enforce equal faithfulness to the procedures from everyone on the team. If you have a commitment to complete a 5S walkthrough of your shop every day at quitting time, then make sure you do it EVERY SINGLE DAY. If your lean plan calls for a Quality Improvement meeting every week, then make sure you hold that meeting EVERY SINGLE WEEK. This level of discipline in the system is extremely important for management people to embrace. As soon as team members see someone from the leadership team slack off on the procedures, they automatically give themselves permission to do the same. Be careful what examples you set. Don’t let apathy or “expertise” destroy all your hard work. It’s a very slippery slope when we start picking and choosing which procedures we feel like following and which we don’t.

So am I saying that every lean process ever invented should be locked in stone and never changed or evolved? No, of course not. Constant process improvement and enhancement are a big part of a developing lean organization. But changes and improvements must be made systematically. All potentially impacted areas of the process must be represented and considered before any changes are actually implemented. The changes must be well-documented, properly published in all applicable manuals or work orders, and presented to the team in a formal training environment. If you deploy your process enhancements in this manner every time, everyone on the team will always implement the changes in the same way. This will give the much sought-after consistency a fighting chance at a sustained life. If you count on ‘word of mouth’ training to officially deploy your changes, your precious consistency will surely be compromised.

Once you and your company make it down that long road of lean implementation, don’t let your guard down! There is no such thing as ‘arrived’ in the lean world. It’s a constant journey that needs to be navigated carefully at all times. Remain diligent and disciplined and your product and company will consistently reap the benefits that come from a great plan that’s been well-executed. Stick to the plan.

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What it means to be a Setpoint Strategic Partner

August 12, 2010 by Setpoint

By John Lennox-Gentle – L-GA

For many years we at Lennox-Gentle Automation in Golden, Colorado, have held a special relationship with Setpoint Systems of Ogden, Utah, we are a proud Setpoint Systems Strategic Partner.

In our Strategic Partner role we assist Setpoint during their “capacity shortage” periods by providing the Lennox-Gentle Automation teams engineering and manufacturing expertise at special “trade” rates.  This synergistic relationship has certainly profited Lennox-Gentle Automation, and we hope it has also profited Setpoint.

From our first meeting with Setpoint, many years ago we have been impressed with the Setpoint Systems philosophy.  This philosophy sprang from a vision laid out by the Setpoint founding partners.  It is a simple yet profoundly effective outlook.  They just maintain an “open and honest” relationship with their employees, associates, vendors and most important, their customers.   I hail from the “old school” of management which taught us “tell your people (staff and customers) nothing but good news or you will loose them” so the first “open” step I took was more of a “leap of faith” for me.   I threw all cares aside and engaged the Lennox-Gentle Automation team in the Setpoint “open” policy.

My first cautious step was made easier by my main contact with Setpoint, my “Project Manager”, my “Mentor”, and now my dear friend, Roger Thomas.  Roger, with his avuncular attitude, genial manner and inherent wit, places his personal stamp on the relationships he develops with his people, his vendors and his customers.  Rogers’ honesty is contagious, and each member of his team has the same “tell me the full scoop, no filters, no holding back” attitude.  Roger is the epitome of “open”.  Not just by his “open” policy, but also by his “full frontal”, “show it how it is”, “open toga” policy of true, honest project reporting, “pimples, warts and all”.

Working with Roger, Clark, Bob, Ken, John, Scott, Steve, Joe and the rest of the Setpoint team is a joy for us.  Each of their attitudes naturally promotes the entire team to get involved, and this combined energy is focused on the fight with the delinquent project issues, rather than in, the other company, who lull each other into a false sense of accomplishment or security.

I know that Roger and the Setpoint team has our six, they have proved it time and again, and I am sure they know that we have theirs.  We hold no project “secrets”, we share all the project problems, as well as the project progress with the entire Project Team.  (The “Project Team” being the L-GA and Setpoint project staff, company staff, vendors and most important, project customers).

I have now modeled my company on the Setpoint, “open” policy.  I recently remodeled my engineering offices by knocking down all the office physical and psychological walls and was pleasantly surprised how this has positively affected the Lennox-Gentle Automation team morale.

The team members can hear each of the other members’ project interaction with vendors, other team players and customers.  Now there is no need for any “pat each other on the back” meetings, and the progress and “status” meetings have shortened from hours to minutes because of this “open office” and “open policy”.  Team communication is almost subliminal.  We inherently know each others problems so we can be immediately ready to assist with their resolution.

Being a Setpoint Strategic partner means much more to us than sharing a mountain range, albeit when visiting us the Setpoint team retains an odd sense of “direction” as their mountains are in the East.  It is sharing the project responsibilities, sharing the project pains and project glories with a trusted companion who is as eager as you are in bringing it to a successful conclusion.

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An Industry Stuck in the Past

July 29, 2010 by Clark

Over the past two years I’ve had the opportunity to visit an industry that has some of the largest manufacturing facilities in the United States. There were five distinct things about each one of the facilities that I noticed the second I walked out onto the manufacturing floor:

  1. The equipment was very old, typically 1940’s vintage
  2. The equipment was very dirty and well worn
  3. The air smelled of machine lubrication
  4. The sound level in each facility was very loud and the floor shook as the machines processed their components
  5. There were massive amounts of inventory everywhere representing the many different stages of the process

With my background in manufacturing and lean automated equipment, I was overwhelmed at the opportunity for improvement and waste elimination associated with this industry.

In many of the facilities, I noticed lots of manual labor sorting components.  After asking why, the pat answer was, “This is how we ensure a quality part makes it to our customers.”  My immediate thought was, “ARE YOU SERIOUS?”  After probing a bit I found that there were very few, if any, in-process inspections to ensure quality product was coming off the end of the manufacturing line.

The level of NCM (Non Compliant Material) throughout the plants was out of control.  I found bins of parts with NCM tags as old as 2 years in one facility.  Again, “ARE YOU SERIOUS?” popped into my mind.

I’ve spent much of my past 20 years in the Aerospace, Automotive and Medical device industries.  In each of these industries, modern equipment and processes as well as lean manufacturing techniques were employed to ensure the products being produced were of the most high quality and reliability.

So what has kept this industry from stepping up and joining the ranks of world class manufacturers and what can be done to break this cycle of inefficient manufacturing?  I don’t know but am confident that someday, some company will break the mold and embrace lean thinking.  When that happens all the other companies in this industry will have no choice but to follow or be left behind.

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Continually Implementing the 5 S System

June 3, 2010 by Kara

After working for Setpoint for almost 4 years now I have come to expect the continual 5 S clean up around the office and the shop floor.  This year I was tasked with cleaning up our internal Company Intranet site and no sooner had I started that when I was tasked with going through the 5 S’s of sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain of our website.  After we found so much unneeded stuff on our Intranet we wanted to make sure our website wasn’t filled with a bunch of old or outdated information.

Sorting though and looking at what you have on a website seems to take a while because not only are you cataloging what is there, you’re making decisions on its importance.  Working at a custom automation company there have been many projects that we have done over the years, and from a marketing standpoint I wanted to emphasize all the capabilities that we possess.  However, from a company standpoint I had to consider which capability was a critical core competence that we wanted our potential customers to understand vs. a capability that is more of a commodity that most automation companies possess.

Straightening up the site required that I carefully go though the website and make sure everything had a consistent look, feel, and were in the same places.  For instance the lead generation form was important.  I know that I don’t like it when I go to websites and struggle to find the lead generation form or even to find my way back to where I came from so in straightening the information I have tried to make sure everything is set up the same.  I also felt that it makes it easier to go to various web pages if there is some similarity in where to go to find certain things.  For instance, under the about section there better be information about the company like their history, management, and press releases.  That’s what I have come to expect on other sites so I made sure it was the same for mine.

Shine is a little different on a website since you don’t have floors to sweep and polish, but it is no less important.  In shining the site I looked at the feeling or look of each page.  Does it have a clean look to it?  Is it really crowded or is it empty?  Shining for the website became the overall look and feel.  It’s hard to find your way around a site that is crowded and has a lot of extra stuff shoved into every corner.

Standardize came easily after sorting and straightening.  Once the importance of items had been established, the standardization of placing the content onto the website in a consistent way leads to a standard look and feel on each page.  Because each item had been sorted and straightened and the website “shined” the standardization fell easily into place.

Now comes the time of sustaining the changes made as well as sustaining the standardized process of placing new items onto the website.  It would be all too easy to just say whew we made it through that, but that’s not what the Toyota Production System (TPS) is all about.  TPS is all about continual change, making changes all the time to add value, continue to learn, grow and get better at what you’re doing.  That’s why continually running through the 5 S’s of sort, straighten, shine, standardize & sustain is so important.  Each time you go through the steps there will be new items to look at and work on.

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5 S Lean Intranet Cleanup

April 15, 2010 by Kara

As a follow up to our 5 S Lean of the Intranet following the Toyota Production System’s lean philosophy, I finished cleaning up and redesigning our Intranet here at Setpoint.  We replaced the old Intranet with the new design a few weeks ago and so far it’s running smoothly.  After sorting through the more than 500 items we ended up with only 75 that we actually needed to keep.  Of those 30 are sales training audio files.  We found that in all there were 10 documents that were used the most and decided that we wanted to group them all together.

Figuring out the right headings took a few iterations.  For those 10 documents we started with Commonly Used but then when testing it no one thought it was a link to the documents they wanted, they thought it was some type of header above the other categories.  So I changed it to Frequently Used and still it was seen as a header when I presented it to everyone.  During that meeting they said why don’t you call it Stuff You Actually Care About, so we did.  Now all documents are only 2 clicks away, a far cry from the previous version.

Now comes the sustaining.  Every time we add a document we are going to verify if we really need it on the Intranet or if another location is the right place for it.

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Our Annual 5 S Lean Cleanup

February 18, 2010 by Kara

Each year at Setpoint as we begin the New Year we go through the 5 S process in our office.  We sort through everything at our desks, the shop, closets, and in the office in general to clear out those things that we no longer need or use.  Then we straighten everything up and rearrange stuff to clean things out and make it easier to find items that we use. 

This year as I was preparing to lead the 5 S cleanup the decision was made to cleanup our Intranet instead.  We got rid of so much over the last few years and hadn’t really accumulated much since our last cleanup.  However, our Intranet is about 5 or 6 years old and instead of cleaning old files off as they were no longer needed and keeping the architecture up to date as we went along, new links and pages were added instead.

If you ask the CEO to find a document on the Intranet he won’t be able to.  He tells me all the time that it’s confusing and that it takes too many clicks to find anything.  How in the world do you start sorting through the Intranet?  I started by making a list of every page and document that we had on there.  We have over 500 items on our Intranet, I had no idea.  Some of those items were duplicates where the same document was added into two different sections.  At least I knew what I needed to sort through.  It just goes to show that when you don’t pay attention to something, it can get totally out of hand as everyone keeps adding things that are not necessary.

The next thing I did was to ask everyone what documents they actually use from our Intranet.  For the most part, there were four documents that most people use.  The rest are either once in a while or they are not used at all.  That was an eye opener, why do we have so many documents available if no one ever even looks at them. 

Now it is time to straighten everything up.  Those items that are used will need to be grouped with like items so that within three clicks you can find any document on our Intranet.  I also need to come up with better category names so that by looking at it you will know what is included, rather than generic terms like “Forms”.

So I’m off to get these items straightened up.  Hopefully the next stage in this process will be easy.

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