The issue of whether one piece flow or batch work is best has been an issue much debated here at Stokes & Rowe! When we first set up our assembly department we instinctively started assembling our products using batch work. It made sense to us and seemed like the obvious way to do things. And funnily enough, every new member of staff who has started has automatically veered towards doing batch work too! The reasoning was that we’d be more efficient completing all of one process before moving onto the next. For example, putting all the o rings in all the filter housings, then moving onto all the collets, then putting in all the springs… you get my drift. And we did this for quite a while. But then we started seeing it’s flaws…
As a company manufacturing a wide range of components, we have lots of different types of tooling in our factory. But we don’t want unnecessary tooling crowding our work space as this just leads to waste. The same goes for the components we make. Like all companies, we occasionally get parts that are not quite right and are rejected during our quality control processes. A lot of these can be reworked so we don’t want to throw them away. But how do we manage this so that we don’t have rejected parts piling up over time and tooling that ‘might get used for something in the future’ taking over? That is where setting up a red tag system will help.
Something that has always been a bit of a pain for us is ordering material. The responsibility for looking at the technical drawings and working out what was required has always fallen solely on Rob’s shoulders. But this just added to his already-bursting-at-the-seams workload! We knew there had to be an easier way to work out our material requirements based on our orders. And it also had to be done in a way that anyone could take charge of it, not just Rob. But we also didn’t want to have to start spending out on computer software. So we set out to come up with a really simple, free, Lean ordering system.
Well, it’s been just over three months into our Journey to Lean in 2017! Time is really flying! You’ve seen our recent post on how we’ve taken our inspiration from Fastcap and how important we feel it is to share Lean ideas and inspire each other. So it has been wonderful to share what we’ve been doing with you all. And it’s even nicer when you also get in touch! And in that vein, we want to share with you a few of the Lean ideas and experiences that have been shared with us so far!
If you’ve read our previous post on 3s, you’ll know that after you’ve sorted and swept, it’s all about sustaining what you’ve put in place. We’ve all been working really hard to implement lots of Lean techniques and don’t want that to go to waste. So we’ve put some measures in place to help us sustain the clean, Lean environment we’re creating and we’d like to share them with you.
We’ve been keeping you up to date with the Lean improvements we’ve been making here at Stokes & Rowe but we also want to share with you all where our Lean inspiration has come from. We really believe that an important part of ‘going Lean’ is the sharing and exchange of ideas.
Here is the youtube video showing an improvement we’ve made in the assembly department. Here Nicola is demonstrating how we have made the process of inserting brass inserts into filter heads much quicker and easier by incorporating a jig and an air tool. Subscribe to our youtube channel for more videos.
We recently showed you some of the process improvements we’ve been making in the machine shop. But we haven’t stopped there! We have been improving lots of our processes in the assembly shop too. These improvements are saving us such a lot of time as well as making jobs simpler and more manageable for the team.