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Archive for June, 2012

Capture “know-how” before it walks out the door

How valuable is the (JI) Job Instruction Breakdown in capturing employee skill and knowledge before your most skilled and experienced people, the ones  that actually make a process work, walk out the door when they retire or move on to other jobs?

The following true incident clearly demonstrates the value of having  JI Breakdowns for all jobs.

The most experienced operator on the complex chucking machines (Frenchie was his nickname) was about to retire after about 40 years on the job. This chucking operation was used to make internal configurations in the end of heavy walled tubes. The process record (work instructions) for this chucking operation was about 30 pages in length and included several tables listing different adjustments for each of several models and configurations of product. In a bit of a panic, knowing that Frenchie was about to retire, the Chief Supervisor of the area directed the department Foreman to spend all day of Frenchie’s last week on the job in the break room buying Frenchie all the coffee he could drink and writing down everything Frenchie knew about running the chucking operation.

Frenchie had a little brown notebook that he carried in his back pocket with his notes on how to adjust the machine or cutters, etc. in order to avoid or eliminate various problems on each product model. The 30 pages of information in the work instructions were variously incorrect or incomplete and did not contain any of the tricks that Frenchie had hit onto over the years. The Chief Supervisor knew that each day, during normal operation of the process, Frenchie would pull his oil-stained notebook from his back pocket during machine change overs or when looking to reduce runout, eliminate rings or whips, etc. in the complex internal geometry.

In the above case, at least the Chief Supervisor knew that the way that work was done (in order to avoid or correct problems) was different than what was written in the work instructions. This gave the company a chance, albeit a last minute chance, to capture the “one best way” before it walked out the door with Frenchie. How many cases exist in every company in which they don’t know how work is really done on critical jobs? They only find out that they don’t know when their real subject matter experts have left and their Quality, Cost, Production and/or Safety performance has fallen off the shelf.

When making a Job Instruction Breakdown, we work with the people who actually do the job, while they are doing the job. We identify and capture those tricks or knacks that have been learned through years of trial and error, so that others don’t have to go through more years of trial and error with resulting wastes of scrap, rework, delays, injuries, etc. Once we have a good Job Instruction Breakdown, we have the “one-best-way” to do a job in a simple, teachable format. This can then be used to get new operators to quickly have the skill and understanding required to do the job correctly, safely, and conscientiously.

Another TWI/JI success story:

This was part of one company’s experience when they first started to “do” JI. Their initial approach was to create 100+ Job Instruction Breakdowns (JIBs) to cover the 100+ different jaw sets to be inserted into their chucks. In thinking about all this work, they asked themselves if they really needed 100 JIBs …. Which led to the question “Why do we need 100 different sets of jaws …. Which led to this company standardizing their jaw sets (they now have 30 to cover the same workload) …. And they have 1 JIB which covers the insertion of any of the 30 jaw sets.

Indirectly, JI changed their whole way of thinking. They improved from both ends!

100 chuck jaw sets     –>     30 jaw sets                            1 JIB     <–     100 JIBs

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