Due to the popularity of my lean tool kit, I present you here my extended lean tool kit. These are items and tools that I frequently use for lean manufacturing on the shop floor, but as opposed to the items from the lean tool kit, I bring these along only if I know I will need them.
Long Measuring Tape
One of my more common lean projects is to optimize a shop floor. In this case it may help to measure longer distances more accurately than by counting steps. For this I use a 100-foot measuring tape. I find that 100 feet (or 30 meters) is a good compromise between the size of the wheel and length of the tape. If I ever need to measure more (hasn’t happened yet), I would just have to measure twice.
However, I am also toying with the idea of getting a laser distance measuring tool. Haven’t tried this yet. If you have used a laser tool for shop floor optimization, please let me know. I would love to hear about your experience with it.
Yet another tool that has helped me to optimize a shop floor is chalk. This is an excellent aide to mark positions on the shop floor and to help visualize the layout. Whenever I do shop floor optimization, I bring some chalk along. At first I used simply used common blackboard chalk, but these were not strong enough and I ended up with lots of broken chalk.
I soon found the solution: Sidewalk Chalk. Designed for children and lean experts of all ages, they are able to resist quite some abuse and rough treatment before breaking. Additionally, they make nice, strong lines that are visible even from a distance. They even work on less-than-clean floors, as long as the surface is not completely covered with dirt, water, or oil. Naturally, they must not be used in a clean-room environment such as a semiconductor plant, but other than that, they are extremely helpful for shop floor layout optimization. I find that a small box lasts me quite some time. After all – different from kids – I do not need to paint the entire factory floor in different colors but merely add lines and markings. However – similar to kids – I still lose them every now and then. 😉
Post-it Notes of All Sizes
Yes, I know. I already mentioned these in my first post about my lean tool kit. However, I use way more than just the simple 3×3-inch Post-its. I love to use self-adhesive cards of all types for presentations and workshop management. Besides the already mentioned 3×3-inch Post-it, I also use larger 4 x 6-inch notes, or even full-size Post-it flip charts. Using these, I often cover all walls and windows with notes and create a workshop war room. I also experiment with different shapes, sizes, colors, and stiffnesses; printed lines vs. blank; squared paper; and other variables to find the perfect Post-it for the specific tasks.
It is a versatile product that I use for markings on the floor, tables, or machines; attaching notes and flip charts to walls and machines; and attaching things while building a mock-up of an assembly station or production line. For me, the one-inch-wide tape works best and has the most uses. It also is a cheaper alternative to the admittedly rather pricey Post-it flip charts.
Camera and Tripod
For many workshops, it helps to take videos of the shop floor. It is much easier to optimize change-over processes and assembly processes by looking at videos. To take good videos that don’t look like an earthquake is in process, you need a camera tripod. Any reasonably good product will do here, as long as it is high enough to be used while standing on the floor.
As for the camera, any current camera is equipped with HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels), so a camera you already have would probably be fine. You may even be able to mount your smartphone on a tripod. Just have a backup plan ready in case you get a phone call. For that particular reason I prefer a separate dedicated camera.
Of course, taking videos of workers should be done only after clearing this with workers, management, and unions. Similar to stopwatch timing, workers are allergic to being videoed. If you (and plant management) want their cooperation, I strongly recommend discussing taking videos with them before actually taking videos.
If you plan to take more extensive notes on the shop floor, I suggest using a clipboard. Having a firm writing surface makes this task much easier, especially if you use the excellent Uni-ball Jetstream Retractable Roller Ball Pens. As for the clipboard, any reasonably good product will do.
I hope this list helps you with your lean implementation. Now go out and organize your industry!