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Post 4: A Deep Look into Productivity

Manufacturers in the past often measured productivity by the volume of product that went out the door. Today, productivity is typically gauged by waste and practices that eliminate waste.

During a PAA, three types of waste are considered: defects, transportation and waiting, and motion. All are primary elements in lean manufacturing.

Defects

Defects are any imperfections that require a product to be reworked or discarded. Fingerprints on glass, lint in a newly painted surface or silicone contamination are examples of defects that may require costly rework. Defects may also occur if a worker drops an object because he or she cannot maintain a secure grip.

Depending on the type of defect, companies may select gloves that do not produce lint or those that are coated to prevent fingerprints. If silicone contamination is a problem, hand protection products are available with alternative materials that do not contain silicone.

Some glove manufacturers offer products with enhanced grip so workers can maintain a firm grasp on wet and slippery objects.

Transportation and Waiting

Transportation and waiting include the time and cost to move people and material. A PAA, for example, showed employees were obtaining PPE from a central store located 15 minutes from their work stations. The manufacturer significantly reduced this time by installing an equipment dispenser near the work location and assigning a non production employee to deliver PPE and other materials.

In another situation, workers were wasting time because they relied on a PPE dispenser that was often empty. The company solved the problem by installing a light that went on whenever the dispenser is empty.

Even though a 15 or 20 minute wait may not seem significant for a single employee, this time will be multiplied many times in a facility that employs many workers.

Motion

Motion relates to ergonomics and movement at the work station, including bending, stretching and donning and removing PPE. The goal is to minimize any movement that may take workers away from their task. Reducing movement is especially important on an assembly line.

A worker, for example, may waste time by constantly adjusting his or her gloves because they are too large and will not remain in place. This extra motion may be eliminated by providing workers with gloves that fit properly.

Many companies are reducing motion by incorporating ergonomic design into the work stations. Work stations may include slots for tools or may be designed to improve posture, which can reduce back injuries. Most Japanese-owned companies emphasize efficiency and organization and design work stations that have a place for everything and require workers to keep tools, PPE and other items in the correct place.

Providing workers with the right PPE can also reduce worker motion. An employee working on a line, for example, may constantly remove his or her gloves to record figures and other information. Providing the worker with gloves that enhance dexterity will allow the person to write with a pen or type on a computer without removing his or her gloves.

Stay tuned for parts 5-6 of this Personal Apparel Assessment series, or visit Ansell Guardian for more information.

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