Figuring out how to improve the use of our time is an industry in and of itself, generating lots of self-help books, TED talks and studies on workplace management strategies. What most experts have found, however, that there are huge gains to be made in the margins of change. How can this impact your manufacturing practices?
By looking outside of our core activities, we can often find many opportunities for improvement. Our core activities tend to be where we focus the majority of our attention. This makes sense, but often looking around the edges leads us to easier findings. Take the example of a meeting. No doubt you have prepared the agenda and expect to keep the members on track. But have you accounted for the ten or so minutes everyone will spend socializing, waiting for the meeting to start or other wastes of time? This is a marginal gain that could result in accumulated hours of real productivity. Manufacturing practices are no different.
For example, a small change such as a static mixer, can make a tremendous impact over time on your factory floor. Old-style mixing units that utilize movement to mix additives into a streamline do not always provide the most efficient way of mixing. In fact, the results on sampling tend to be very inconsistent. Additionally, the tanks and pipelines frequently experience downtime from clogging and fouling.
But a small change with a static mixer can eliminate many if not all of the problems experienced in the mixing process. Because the mixer takes up very little space and can be customized to the factory floor plan, manufacturers often find they have also saved on space as well as energy. Physics provides the energy for the low-pressure drop and industry leaders experience double-digit savings on energy costs or wasted additive like polymer loss in water treatment. You don’t have to replace the whole system – just the most effective pieces!
Building new habits, whether personal ones or larger, industry-related ones, involves many of the same principles. Full-tilt change is difficult to sustain and even harder to get started. However, working in the margins of our activities, little changes can really add up to big differences.