Kaizen Example (Motion Economy)

Part of an assembly process was to attach a plastic strap to a spring clip. The clip was strong and difficult to open, so engineers provided a pair of pliers which would open the clip. Operators didn't like this as it involved picking up and putting down the pliers.

They also found it easier, and quicker, to make piles of assembled straps/clips as sub-assemblies. This avoided too many pick-ups and put-downs.

However - the piles of WIP themselves needed to be boxed up, moved around, etc. which created extra work!

The engineers had a think about this. They came up with a fixed modified clamp which would force the clip open - no need to pick up a tool! The job still had several wasteful steps in it:

  • pick up clip and set to clamp

  • operate clamp

  • attach strap

  • open clamp

  • aside assembly

...and the operators were not too impressed!

One of the operators experimented for a while and devised a new method: all it required was a bolt inserted through the bench from below to form a small post.

  • strap is offered to clip

  • clip pressed with palm against bolt to open it and strap pulled along

...it was all too quick to photograph clearly!

This illustrates a couple of points about kaizen:

  • by all means highlight problems, but solutions are more welcome; even 'suggestions' are 'jobs for other people
  • keep it simple - don't substitute gadgetry for method and technique
  • make use of operators' expertise
  • make us of available resources (nut & bolt rather than something out of a catalogue)

The next step was to introduce 1 X 1 production!


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