Friday, September 3, 2010

Using Lighting Systems to Guide Standard Work

Several years ago I was working with a supplier to help them reduce the rate of defects to their customer. One of the specific defects was the parts packed on the pallet out of sequence. Their customer assembles products on a line where each product on the line is a different part number. The supplier’s objective was to pack the subassemblies on pallets in a sequence synchronized with the order their customer was building their product.

To make matters worse, each of the supplier’s customers worked in a different sequenced order when taking the components out of the pallets. Some customers took the subassemblies off the pallet in a counter-clockwise direction, others clockwise, or in a z-pattern. This made it too easy for the supplier line workers to accidentally pack the parts out of sequence. One misplaced part could cause a lot of expensive downtime to investigate and resolve.

I proposed a process at the supplier’s packing station that projected light into the correct position in the pallet to place the next subassembly (based each customer’s specifications) in the correct sequence order. It was a system similar to the one in the video - but they weren’t making mixed drinks.

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