Epic Consultants

Got Time? Value-added Tools that you can Implement

by | Jan 4, 2020 | Articles

Most companies are going through rough patches: difficulties with their payroll, forecasting customer orders, uncertainty with suppliers, keeping key personnel; the list goes on.
In our last article, we shared tips on how to create a Crisis Management Strategy and asked readers to share any topics of interest.
First and foremost, thank you for your great feedback! One of the main themes that came up was: “What value-added tools could we implement with limited resources and while respecting government protocols?
So, we went into our toolbox and picked a few tools to share with you:
Equipment Maintenance (reducing / eliminating downtime)
If you have the time and manpower available, then there is an opportunity to improve your maintenance program. There are 3 main types of equipment maintenance programs: REACTIVE, PREVENTIVE AND PREDICTIVE:
1. Reactive Maintenance is unfortunately, the most common type of maintenance executed by companies. This type of maintenance only occurs when equipment breaks or fails.
2. Preventive Maintenance is when company executes maintenance periodically in order to prevent downtime. There are many ways that a maintenance schedule can be setup:

  • based on the equipment manual
  • based on downtime history
  • usage-based
  • time-based

3. Predictive Maintenance is when companies utilize condition-monitoring tools and techniques based on vibration, temperature, noise and other factors to predict when an equipment is about to fail.
Right now, there is a perfect opportunity to “move up” on your maintenance level. If you find yourself only doing reactive maintenance, take initial steps towards preventive maintenance: identify critical equipment (the ones necessary for your operation not to stop), and develop preventive maintenance procedures / checklists / frequency per equipment based on existing manuals.
If you already have a preventive maintenance plan in place, evaluate it. What pieces of equipment have a higher maintenance cost? How can you move into predictive maintenance with these?
5S is a famed tool of workplace organization. It consists of 5 steps for creating a culture of cleanliness and organization with three main objectives: “Improve Productivity”, “Reduce Accidentality” and “Generate a World Class Environment”:
1. Sort consists of identifying everything that is present in the workplace, as well as its usage (hourly, daily, weekly, …) and creating an inventory. This step is sometimes called “red-tagging” because it is common to use a red tag to identify each of the inventoried items.
2. Setting in Order consists of defining what stays in the workplace and what should be relocated, based on usage. For every item that stays, a clear position should be defined, with items with greater use closer to the point of use than the ones that are used less frequently. At the end of this phase you will have a place for everything, and everything will be in its proper place.
3. Shine: Clean everything inside and out. The workplace, equipment as well as everything in the area should look as if it just came out of the package. This is also where you demarcate the area, draw flow lines, workstations, material position and everything that can support what was defined I the “Set in Order” stage.
4. Standardize: Define standards (audits, cleaning schedules, area pictures, etc.) that, if followed, will guarantee everything is maintained as defined in steps 1-3.
5. Sustain: The toughest of the steps. It consists of creating a culture to repeat steps 1-4 properly in order to maintain areas clean and organized — PLANT TOUR READY.
Many companies have complex and automated systems for controlling inventory – others have simpler controls like excel sheets. Whatever system you have in place, now is a great time to perform physical inventory; counting and accounting for every single item in the inventory.
Keeping your inventory under control can have a huge impact on costs by not purchasing unnecessary items, and not stopping operation due to lack of materials. Also, performing a physical inventory is a great way to audit whatever processes and systems you have in place for inventory control. If your inventory accuracy (the difference between your physical inventory and the system value) is substantial, it means that your current process is not efficient and thus it needs to be improved.