Tuesday, March 13, 2007

6S in Rough Plumbing (Part 1)

We are in the process of making improvements in our Rough Plumbing area, where we pre-build water lines assemblies and drain-lines that the Floor Department installs in the floor cavity. This area is located on a second level mezzanine adjacent to the Floor Department. When we first assessed this area, we saw some obvious issues:

1) There was no good way to stock long material (i.e. 20' water lines) due to the lack of forklift access. The installer had to carry the unwieldy material upstairs by hand and lay it on the ground haphazardly.

2) Due to all of this material laying around and a large work table sitting in a poor spot, the large space felt cramped.

3) The stairway location was a safety hazard because visibility was always blocked at the bottom of the stairs by material being used by the Floor Department.

4) Material was disorganized and poorly labeled, and there was a lot of overstock.

5) The tables, walls, and flooring needed refurbishing.

Before we could do a typical 6S event, we needed to make some changes to the layout of the area:

1) We tore out the two old work tables and rebuilt them. This time, the table that had been in an inconvenient location was located against the wall (like the other table) instead of in the middle of the floor. This created a lot of space for working, walking, and delivering finished plumbing sub-assemblies to the Floor Department.

2) We repaired a damaged and uneven area of the floor.

3) We relocated the stairway to a safer location. As a side-effect, this freed up a lot of room for the Floor Department below to store material underneath the stairs. Also, by moving the stairs we were able to create an access for pulling long-stock material out of a rack (see #4 below).

4) We fabricated a storage rack for the long-stock material. Its location is forklift accessible, which means that the installer no longer has to spend time and energy moving this awkward material upstairs. The end of the rack is butted against an access window leading to the Rough Plumbing area, so the installer can easily pull the material from the end and take it to his work tables.

Now that we have made the necessary changes to the layout of the area, we are ready to do a 6S event. As with all 6S projects, our goal will be to stabilize the process and make waste visible. I will provide details in upcoming posts.

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