Editor’s note: Indium Corporation’s Ron Lasky continues this series of columns about Maggie Benson, a fictional character, to demonstrate continuous improvement and education in SMT assembly.
Maggie was working in her office, deep in concentration, when she was startled by the phone ringing. It was her mentor, Professor Patty Coleman from Ivy University. Maggie reached to answer the phone.
“Hi Prof…,” Maggie started, “Patty.”
“Well, Maggie, we still need a little work on you calling me Patty,” Patty said, chuckling. “I am calling to thank you again for taking my family to Mount Ascutney to view the Milky Way. Rob, our boys, and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t consider that the new moon might be the best time for viewing. It was also neat to see Venus. I was unaware that Venus is in the Western sky after sundown because it is closer to the sun than the earth.”
Maggie was beaming. At last, she knew something Professor Coleman didn’t!
Patty continued, “We brought binoculars to Ascutney, but you suggested a telescope instead if it’s one that you don’t have to lug up a mountain. I was hoping to get one for our sons. Could you recommend one?”
“I think a scope like mine is ideal. It has a six-inch mirror which allows serious viewing yet is small enough to handle. Also, the cost is less than $1,000,” Maggie explained.
Maggie sent Patty a link to the telescope (Figure 1) and to some astrophotos that a scope like this could take.
Three days later…
Maggie, John, Frank Emory, and Chuck Tower sat in Patty Coleman’s spacious university office with plans to review their progress in keeping the lines running during lunch hour.
“So, what’s the scoop?” Patty asked.
“Well, it was a resounding success,” Maggie stated. “John and Chuck will explain.”
Chuck, feeling a little uncertain and after a short awkward silence, let John begin.
“We had an all-hands meeting and announced that everyone would get a $3 per hour raise if the company could keep the lines running during the lunch half-hour,” John said. “Frank explained how we lost much more than a half-hour of production time during lunch. It was actually closer to an hour and 15 minutes.”
“How was it accepted?” Patty asked.
“At first, we received a lot of skepticism, but as people offered suggestions, the meeting became more and more positive,” John continued.
“Let me guess. The first complaint was that the workers wanted to eat lunch together?” Patty asked.
John whispered into Chuck’s ear to answer a “yes” to Patty’s question.
“As the meeting went on, more suggestions were offered as to how to keep the line running during lunch with the fewest people. One big breakthrough happened when staff who do not work on the line offered to pitch in and help during the lunch hour,” Chuck began, hesitatingly.
“What I think is really great is that you let the workers offer suggestions, instead of telling them what to do,” Patty said in a complimentary tone.
“It gets better; let Chuck continue,” Maggie suggested.
“At the meeting, we organized a group of people to set up a plan, and within a week it was implemented,” Chuck said.
“And the results were?” Patty asked.
“We set up a skeleton crew for each line to keep it running during lunch hour. With the staff who don’t normally run the line volunteering now, each worker only misses lunch with their friends about once every other week. In addition to the focus on uptime, many people offered helpful suggestions on how to improve uptime in general,” Chuck elaborated.
“So how is it working?” Patty asked.
“Let me take this one,” Frank said. “Uptime skyrocketed to just over 45%. The financials are mind-blowing. As a reminder, with uptime at 30%, we were at a little less than $2.8 million profit per line. With our plan to get uptime to 40% with the line running during lunch and give the workers a $3 per hour raise, we went to about $5.3 million per line (Table 1). We took a gamble and told everyone, not just the line workers, that we will give them a $3 per hour raise if they can keep the line running during lunch. So, with the uptime at 45% and the $3 raise, the profits went up to over $5.8 million per line.”
Maggie added, “Having the staff work on the line and offer suggestions was tremendous for bonding and was a great morale booster. In addition, we increased our Christmas bonus program and made it strongly dependent on profitability. So, all the workers now look at the company financials, which are posted monthly. In addition, lunchtime is still a fulfilling social experience.”
As the group walked out of the office, Patty’s smile disappeared, only to be replaced with a scowl.
Why is Patty scowling? And what is your process uptime improvement plan? Do you keep your lines up during lunch?
Cheers, Dr. Ron
This column originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of SMT007 Magazine.