Manual Manufacturing Work

Manual Manufacturing and Assembly

We take time to ensure the product is able to be built consistently.  We do our best to make the manual work as infrequent as possible and where we are unable to eliminate manual work, we design the product in ways to ensure a repeatable and reliable outcome from the work.   For example, we need an LED to have a certain defined distance from the printed circuit board to allow the LED to protrude just right through the enclosure lid.  To get that defined stand off, we use…a……standoff.  The problem comes when that effort does not produce the results we wish.

Error in Manufacturing

In this case the first production run produces the product with this installed spacer in the desired way that meets the fit needs. The problem comes when the next batch is run on the manufacturing line. The errors that came from the first batch production run, were not found in the … Continue reading

Manchester TQM for Project Management

I recently had a phone call from the acquisition editor at Taylor and Francis, John Wyzalek.  He informed me that a book we wrote a couple of years back (Total Quality Management for Project Management), is being used at Manchester Metropolitan University, and gave me the contact information of the lady creating and teaching the class, Maria.  I have had a few calls with Maria Kapsali since then that have been very interesting.

We discussed how the Total Quality Management tools can help us avoid deluding ourselves.  However, at least equally important if not more so, is having a team come to some common understanding of what is being witnessed.  The discussion pointed us to how to evoke ideas of the source of some of the issues being witnessed.  For example, we explored starting with the brainstorming tool often associated with Total Quality Management, the Ishikawa Diagram or fishbone diagram.  The students had a project associated … Continue reading

Muri – Overburden

Muri is waste associated with pushing people, processes and equipment beyond the limits or overburdening. An organization may be enamored of working large numbers of overtime hours, but any benefit for such some at a cost, and this is an example of overburdening.

I once worked at a place in which the employees averaged being at the organization for between 10 – 20 years, and had vacation time commensurate with being within the organization per the company benefits manual. The people that had been with the company that long had more than 4 weeks of vacation, which is 160 hours off of the 2000 hours or total work hours approximates 1840.  On top of this time off, the company also offered special days that it gave off to everybody – think Thanksgiving and Christmas for example.  Yet when it came to calculate the work the organization could undertake, the organization used 1980 per person to estimate the total amount of … Continue reading

Muda – Waste

For those familiar with the lean approach to the work or the Toyota Way, you my already know about the concept of Muda. Muda is one of the three categories associated with lean that impact performance and costs to the organization.  Muda is regarded to have seven waste types or areas or actions that cause waste.

Over Production

Just like it sounds, making more of something than the need for that something.  This does not just mean parts, but also extends to work product deliveries throughout the work pipeline. Think SIPOC (Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer), in this case any output from a process (P) delivered before the depending process (C) or work can start, leaving the work product just sitting there.  Another variant of this waste would be working on products that are not for the next work process, but some prioritized work that is further down or upstream.  When this is not coordinated well, we end up with rework, and if changes are required … Continue reading

Starting a Fire

Do you know how to start a fire?  I am not talking about charcoal briquettes, or the use of combustion material such as  lighter fluid, gasoline, or those special wax products that can be used in your fireplace, no propane or gas used either.

I’m talking about the fires we make in the woods when we go camping. It is okay if you do not know how, in fact my life as had quite a few times when my boy scout experiences have been a benefit to more than my family or those with whom I am camping.  My son and I have made many campfires for cooking out or roasting marsh mellows. Before this, I had camped out without a tent and used the fire for warmth (and to keep away the vermin while we slept).  We have started fires when the material may be damp, but that is not to suggest that it is easy to start a fire … Continue reading

Tools and Teams

I recently saw a post on Twitter from the Great John Cutler on allow the team to pick the tools that they use to do the work.  Generally, this is not a bad idea, but not necessarily a great idea either.  It sort of depends.

 

 

My experience in companies that also have hardware parts associated with the software, each group selecting their tools comes at a great disadvantage when it comes to understanding the various work products as it moves through the organization.  It is not possible for one team to see what the other team has done, when the tools are not connected, or each group selects what that individual group needs without consideration of the departments that are depending or associated with the work.  In these cases, a product life cycle management tool that connects the various work departments and work packages can help tie all of these together. Consider a vehicle manufacturer that develops … Continue reading

Project Organization Structure

If you have been a project manager for any time at all, you probably have experienced competing demands from the sponsors for the project.  The sponsor is the person(s) who drive the scope of the project in conventional projects.  In some instances, the project manager may find that there are in fact multiple sponsors and the respective priorities of those sponsors may be at odds.  This is not the only difficulty to which the project manager must respond.

From the CHAOS study by the Standish Group, on project failures and success factors, we find the results below. This study analyzed 23,000 projects in 1998[i], of the factors that enable project success and failure.

Success Factor Influence User involvement 20 Executive support 15 Clear business objectives 15 Experienced project manager 15 Small milestones 10

 

A list of the top 5 factors from this study, demonstrate that importance of the interface between the project, the executives that are supporting … Continue reading

Product Development – what does not work.

What does not work -duration

Besides wasting time planning out many months into the future as if we could see and control that far ahead, there have been studies over the years that have established an inverse correlation between the length of time a project runs and project success rate.  Perhaps this does not sound so odd, given the more tasks we have or the more work we must do, the greater the risks. Consider a product and the opportunities for failure, the more parts, the more opportunities for failure or more failure points.

There is no silver bullet when it comes to product development. However, there are some things that studies tell us what does not work.

Duration

First, the planning and long-term project or treating the job like we know the details 6 months to 3 years in the future.  There are studies from the Standish group that illustrates the project s longer than 6 months in duration have … Continue reading

Common Cause and Special Cause Variation

Variation!

Though sometimes we may refuse to recognize it, the world is a full of variation, even in the things we think or believe are constant. For example, my wife has been known to say, “you always do…” or “you never do…”, to which I retort, I am human and I am not that repeatable.  I say that, but it is not just humans that are not so repeatable.  Everything has variation, and understanding this variation, is important for product development, project management, manufacturing, product testing and so much more.  To master this work, we need to understand this variation as completely as possible.

Common and Special Cause Variation

Shewart is credited for developing the concepts of special and common cause [1].  Special cause variation, are variations that are outside of the expected (intermittent) range of possibilities. Common cause variation, are the variation expected, we know about these, these are predictable, provided we have put some effort into learning about … Continue reading

Soft Skills and Training

Are we starting to believe and behave as if all conflict is bad? Not just bad, but something to be avoided at all costs. There are upsides to conflict, that we may be forgetting.  For example, the tension between what I wanted to be able to do with my life outside of employment at the time, created a tension that got me off my duff and go back to school. The tension within a team working on a development project, can deliver a better quality product, as with each perspective or potential design solution presented, there is a vigorous attack and defense on the technical merits.  Note the attack is on the idea, nothing personal, just working to find the best solution given the resources, talent and constraints.

Even companies that provide training in the soft skills, in my experience, expect this training to be some sort of weird cure all to avoid conflict, and not necessarily constructive conflict resolution.  In our modern work spaces with psychological safety, we … Continue reading

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to our Newsletter
Name
Email *
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO