By Ray Morris, Director of Sales Training, Ansell® Protective Products
No one would argue that a high level of productivity is essential to survival in today’s competitive manufacturing environment. The question becomes what can a company do to boost productivity? How can we ensure workers and processes operate as efficiently and effectively as possible to compete in a global economy?
Six Sigma focuses on improving process performance to ensure quality productivity and ultimately satisfy customer demands and reduce costs. Quality productivity often hinges on three factors: parts made, worker safety and employee morale.
Many companies measure productivity based on how many finished products meet quality specifications and go out the door. Others gauge productivity by the amount of waste their facility produces.
In the past, employee paychecks were often determined by piecework and how many units a worker produced within a certain period of time. If a house wares manufacturer, for example, decided a worker should be able to attach 33 skillet handles in an hour, the worker who attached 37 handles received a financial bonus.
Piece price jobs still exist but productivity often relies on the efficiency of an entire process. When a portion of the process breaks down, fewer parts are made.
If a facility, for example, does not receive the raw materials needed, employees who work with raw materials will not be able to perform their jobs. The situation will impact other processes down the line and productivity will suffer.
Likewise, failing to provide workers the right hand protection can affect process efficiency and the number of parts made. Assembly line workers at an electronics manufacturing facility used air drills to insert screws into products. Each work station had a bucket of screws and the worker picked the screws up one by one to assemble components.
Because the gloves workers wore failed to provide the dexterity and tactile sensitivity needed, workers dropped dozens of screws each hour in their quest to quickly perform their jobs. The number of screws that fell to the floor was so great the company employed a full time person to sweep them up and return them to the line.
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