September '15

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114 • RV PRO • SEPTEMBER 2015 rv-pro.com wise long-term solution (unless the product demand increases). Sometimes good things are found and corrected this way, but it usually does not take long for these attempts to play out without significant long-term solutions. After attempting to use your in-house resources, I would recommend looking out- side for help. The old cliché "a fresh set of eyes" is still true. Bringing in someone from outside of your facility usually will not be influenced by in-house politics, biases, friendships, operations-familiarity, or repercussion fears. I would offer the following suggestions: Corporate or Sister Facilities Larger companies that have a "corporate office" or those that may have several manu- facturing facilities located away from each other can be a great resource to draw from. The corporate office may have corporate engineers or other expert resources (mate- rials/supply chain, quality, accounting pro- fessionals) that can be dispatched to the manufacturing plants to act as internal con- sultants to help identify problems and offer corrective actions. This is good because they may have seen and fixed the same problem you have at one of the other plants. If there is no corporate structure to draw from, many times sister facilities can share their employees much in the same way. For example, one facility may send a manu- facturing engineer to another facility for a week to provide a fresh set of eyes to help the resident manufacturing engineer see and correct problems. This process can be repeated as needed from one plant to another using any of the existing employed professionals. This can be a very low cost way to go. College Students or Co-ops Many companies use paid co-ops or col- lege interns much in the same way. These folks can be found through the colleges and universities and can be a win-win for both the students and the companies that employ them. Usually, with students, there are little to no preconceived notions or manufacturing history to pull from, so there are no biases to cloud their thinking. However, for the same reason, they may accept the way you are doing things as the way it is supposed to be and not recognize the poor methods, bad layouts, and inefficient process flow for what they really are. Careful selection and hiring of these students will improve your odds. They also typically need heavy supervisory oversight or the assignment of simple tasks in order to achieve the benefit from their employment. Once in a while you can find a real gem, someone who you will want to hire full time. Contractors/ Temps Contractors and temps can be a good option, as they are typically seasoned pro- fessionals who have been around the block a few times and can hit the ground running, requiring very little supervision or orientation. What we are talking about here includes pro- fessionals such as quality engineers, industrial engineers, production supervisors, manufac- turing engineers, materials/ purchasing folks and others. You hire them for a fixed hourly rate for short-term requirements, interim or special projects, such as investigating and identifying your plants problems and offering viable solutions. The advantage is there are no benefits to pay and they can be released or replaced at will with no obligation. Consulting Companies The use of a consulting company may be the best of all worlds. Although there may be a bit higher initial cost, there is more obligation to show improvement and more incentive to provide real cost reduc- tions and savings to you, the client com- pany. Typically, the initial consulting costs are paid back in spades over the next year, making it a very good financial investment. Employees from a sister facility will still be employees when they return home; co-op students have no real stake in anything because they will not be back " Many times, the true manufacturing problems are indeed hidden from view due to the manager's constant familiarity with their processes, or lack of experience/ training in the principles of problem identification and process improvement. Sometimes the real issues may be intentionally unacknowledged simply due to the fear that any changes will mess up what operations they have going on now. "

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