Training assures our shops will be sustainable and that all are operating at their highest and best use. Scheduling does that for all the resources in our shops in light of market demand.

Last August we ran a post asking what was a company’s most important job?

Ford says Quality is Job 1...
Ford says Quality is Job 1…

It caused quite a stir on the many LinkedIn Forums and attracted a number of thoughtful comments.

The economy and markets for our precision machined products have changed since then, thanks to all the shenanigans in Washington D.C. involving the election and the fiscal cliff. Not to mention whatever is going on with the currencies  and economies  affecting imports and exports all around the world.

Based on comments from recent visits with members I think it is time to reconsider that question  in light of circumstances today.

What is the most important job in our shops- today?

most-important-job-everToday we do not seem to have the flexibility to grow our way out of our limits by adding new technology ( takes new employees ) or adding people ( we can’t find skilled people and with housing still underwater, even we did find them they won’t move). So we have to maximize (not just optimize) what we can produce with what we have. Adding more of either just doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

To me that means two things-

  1.  We need to upgrade cross training for our people, 
  2.  We need our schedulers to do the impossible. 

Cross training increases our teams’ ability to be agile, flexibile, and competent.

To meet challenges after a key team member is lost due to illness, retirement or accident. Cross training upgrades the value of each employee. It makes our shop more sustainable, by increasing the odds that our equipment will be operating. So the trainers and mentors play a key role in keeping our production and talent aligned. How is that going in your shop?

Scheduling is how we assure the greatest return for the resources deployed in our shop.

Scheduling is where all the assets and tools that we have can be applied to meet the market’s needs for our services and products. Assuring that all of our equipment and people are operating at their highest and best use is what the savvy scheduler is doing- to maximize the dollar throughput collected for each hour of shoptime from our customers.

You can rely on software for schedulingif you are, I sure hope that someone has done some reality checking recently on the factors that your program uses for availability, prtoductivity and cost.

You can rely on the inside sales department to schedule your shop. If so I hope that “my inside sales rep” is the loudest and most obnoxious to assure that “my job” gets to the fron t of the line. I hope that is not the system at your company.

Or you can rely on a professional who works as part of a team- to understand the demands of the market, the limits of the equipment, and the abilities of the folks on the floor to assure that every thing is running at its “highest and best use” to assure the flow of product out the door and cash reciepts from the customers is a steady and growing stream.

Once the right folks have been hired, I’m thinking the most important job is having a schedule that assures that they and the equipment resources at their disposal are operating at their highest and best use.

What do you think?

Job 1 Clock


Setup reduction is the one discipline that every precision machining shop must master.

Complete changeover and setup in under an hour is old news at Vanamatic.
Complete changeover and setup in under an hour is old news at Vanamatic.

Here are 8 positive impacts of a setup reduction for your precision machining shop from PMPA member company Vanamatic, who created the Vanamatic Lean Setup Reduction Video to show you the way…

1. Manufacturing Capacity. Setup reduction increases manufacturing capacity without adding people or machines. Doing more with less is the essential lesson of lean.

2. Scheduling. Standard (8-hour) setups are notorious for ending up at 20 hours, which puts the machine in the hole before it starts. Setup reduction programs compress the bad setup times significantly, which also helps scheduling. Setup reduction increases on-time performance and builds customer loyalty.

3. Premium Time/Overtime. Setups gone wrong often require overtime hours to catch up.  Additional premium time is seldom required with a good setup reduction program.

4. Setup Skills. Good setups from scratch require the highest skilled setup personnel; interchangeable tooling setups can be performed by operators.

5. Scrap and Defects. Setup scrap can be limited to a few pieces and bar ends. Ideal setup reduction programs generate a good piece on the first piece.

6. Machine Maintenance. Machine problems after setups from scratch occur frequently. Setup reduction programs with interchangeable tooling reduce the number of machine component adjustments, thus eliminating breakage caused by improper adjustment.

7. Tool Breakage. How often have you heard, “The tool broke because it was set wrong”? Quick-change/interchangeable setups eliminate breakage. They use tools that drop in or are preset outside the machine, resulting in setups and normal tool changes that seldom result in breakage because of improper settings.

8. Down and Waiting for Machine/Tool Components. Good setup reduction systems require that all tool and machine components be ready prior to the setup beginning. The best setup reduction programs store all tools and components in the machine area (not a crib) so the operator/setup people can prep for the next setup while the machine is running.

PMPA  offers the Vanamtic Setup Reduction Case Study slides and Video (via CD-R with paper master handouts) for a $500 donation to the PMPA Educational Foundation. The PMPA Educational Foundation awards grants to applying companies and individuals to further their skills training in the precision machining area.

These materials provide convincing evidence that Lean Setups are not just wishful thinking by showing actual people actually performing.

Contact Jeff Remaley  for an order form and we will also include a copy of the Micron Manufacturing Case study as well…

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