On Workplace Safety

Injury Fork LiftIn my last post I looked in detail at an example of a workplace accident with Alec Baldwin, where a misfire in a gun killed a coworker. It seems quite a few failures and oversights had to come together to result in the accident. This is the same in industry. A major injury is rarely the result of a single mistake. Modern industry has plenty and often redundant safety mechanisms to prevent accidents. Yet accidents do happen. Let’s look deeper into workplace safety!

Read more

Alec Baldwin and Workplace Safety

On October 21, 2021, actor Alec Baldwin handled a prop gun on a movie set that fired and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza. And, as far as I know, it was not even Alec Baldwin’s fault. While the investigation is still ongoing, it looks like a lot of safety regulations were ignored or applied sloppily. Accidents in manufacturing and other industry also often have not a single cause, but multiple points of failure, before somebody gets hurt. A good reason to look deeper at workplace safety. This first post looks in more detail at the events on the film set, and a second post looks generally at workplace safety.

Read more

50 Years after the Death of Lillian Evelyn Gilbreth

Lillian Moller Gilbreth
Lillian Moller Gilbreth in 1921

Fifty years ago today, Lillian Evelyn Gilbreth (May 24, 1878 – January 2, 1972) passed away. She was an early pioneer in optimizing and streamlining work, which is especially remarkable in a time when women were supposed to be at home in the kitchen instead of pursuing science and engineering. I already wrote briefly about her, her husband, and Frederick Winslow Taylor in my post The Tale of Taylor and Gilbreth. I also have her portrait, among other key people in the history of manufacturing, hanging in my office. Let’s have a look at the life of this very remarkable and outstanding woman!

Read more

Changeover Sequencing under Duress: Problems with Make and Deliver

In my last post I looked at strategies to manage changeover sequencing if your supplier gives you trouble. Basically, you can sometimes reduce the damage by fine-tuning the prioritization (i.e., by using the limited raw materials to make the most important parts). This second post in this series looks at similar situations if your customer acts up, or if your own system makes problems. In other words, after discussing “source” in the last article, we now look at the “make” and “deliver” part. Admittedly, some of the approaches are similar to the problems with “source.”

Read more

Changeover Sequencing under Duress: Problems with Source

Changeover sequencing helps you to produce more efficiently with smaller lot sizes, less inventory, and/or less changeovers. But despite a good changeover sequence, sometimes things blow up in your face. Your supplier does not deliver, your customer wants more than you planned, or your main process went belly-up and is waiting for repairs. In any case, something is forcing your hand and messing up your changeover sequence, or more generally your entire production sequence. What do you do? Well, depending on what happened, you may have options to mitigate the damage. This first post will look at mishaps originating from your supplier, and the next post will look at difficulties originating from your customer or even from your own system.

Read more

The Benefits of Mass Production

Mass production makes items faster, better, and cheaper. The larger your production volume, the lower your cost and, subsequently, your product prices. This is common knowledge, but what is not well known is the magnitude of this effect. In this post I would like to show you a few comparable products, albeit with vastly different production volumes, and hence different prices.

Read more

Make-to-Order vs Make-to-Stock: Additional Decision Factors

For all your products, you have to decide between make-to-order and make-to-stock. A similar decision is needed for components or raw materials that you produce or purchase. As described in my precious posts, the key criteria is the quantity and the fluctuation. In this last post in this small series I will look at where to make the cut, and what other factory play a secondary role for your production system.

Read more

Make-to-Order vs Make-to-Stock: The ABC XYZ Analysis

In my last post I started to look at when to produce make-to-stock and when to produce make-to-order. There are quite a few factors that influence this decision (more on this in my next post), but the most important ones are the total sales or production volume as well as the fluctuations thereof. To understand these, you could use a Pareto analysis, an ABC analysis, or an ABC-XYZ analysis. I do like to include not only quantity but also fluctuations, but usually I need to divide this into only two groups, and the three groups of ABC or nine groups of ABC-XYZ is, in my view, a bit of an overkill. Anyway, let’s have a look:

Read more