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When I first started in the industry the focus was on cycle time.

Cycle-time dictated how many parts you could make, that told you how much money you could make.

Pretty clear.

As a foreman and later as plant manager, I focused on eliminating down-time.

Down-time dictated how many parts I couldn’t make, and that told me how much money I would lose off plan.

As our sales increased, I learned that up-time was probably more important than cycle-time, as with no up-time, cycle-time just didn’t matter.

When lean -six- sigma became the fashion, all of us found out that it was SET-UP time where we could identify our next great contributions to eliminating waste and increasing profits.

So my question to you is about time- which aspect of time do you think is the most important to your competitiveness? Sustainability? Profitability?

What we really sell is the time on our machines.

It’s about time.

Really. Our business is really about time.

May I have your ideas please?

3 thoughts on “It’s Really About Time

  1. I agree.

    I have seen many companies claim they have 90 or 95% efficiency, as measured by the actual time it takes to make (machine, bend, drill, tap, etc.) a part as compared to what the engineer says it should take. Obviously, one question here is, is the industrial engineer doing an accurate job of setting rates?

    Let’s set that minor (?) question aside for the moment, and address the biggie — productivity is total output (measured in finished parts in a certain operation) divided by total input (measured in the hours it takes to make the finished parts).

    What many companies do is forget the set-up times. If the IE says the standard is 60 parts per hr, and I run 120 in two hours, then I am at 100% efficiency. Goody for me! What is left out of the equation here is that it took me an hour to set up the machine. That means I run the 120 parts in three hours, or a 66% overall efficiency.
    And obviously, if I cut my set up time to 30 minutes, my overall efficiency rises to 80%…which is a little more like it!

    This leads us to figuring run times, set-up times, and thus batch sizes.

    What is also forgotten is “internal” vs. “external” set-up times. If I get my tools, jaws, inserts, etc. all lined up while the previous job is running, when it stops, I can immediately set up the new job rather than going on an Easter Egg hunt for the stuff I need. Not that many people do that.

    “Internal” set up is installing the tools, jaws, etc. Nothing much can be done about that, I suppose (unless we combine operations and do a better set-up), but a great deal of time can be saved cutting “external” set-up times.

    Next, one not only has to figure the productivity of the direct employees, one has to figure the productivity of a) those other employees related to production — the indirects — as well as b) all employees — those in the office.

    When one factors all those different employee segments into the equation, overall productivity obviously falls.

    The lesson here: figure the productivity in all ways, look for the weak points, and create a system to motivate the employees to WANT to eliminate wasted time.

    That’s working smarter, not working harder. That’s what we do for clients.

    That’s where senior managers should be spending their time, not picking on the poor SOBs just operating the machines.

  2. speakingofprecision says:

    Thank you for amplifying our thinking in this post, Woodruff.

  3. It is, no doubt, both uptime and process time. Lean is all about uptime, but you have to pay atttention to optimizing tool paths, tool changes and machining strategies. Wasted uptime is still wasted-

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