During a recent kaizen event at our Chihuahua, Mexico plant, the team observed one of our interior associates repeatedly walking back and forth from her sewing station to a line side station to check on material levels. She walked over 30 steps one way and was responsible for sewing and delivering these parts along with sewing parts for the cell next to her. She was given this added sewing operation to fill in some of her available time but the process was not set up to make it easy for her to do both.
Seeing the opportunity for improvement, several of the kaizen team members worked with this associate and the line side associate to come up with a better process. The result was a simple flag made from paper and scrap wood.
The new process is simple. When the material level reached a pre-determined point, the line side associate would raise this flag to signal the need for more parts. From her sewing station, the associate can easily see the flag prompting her to sew the parts and deliver them. Once the parts are delivered, the flag is taken down.
This is another example of simple visual management to make jobs easier and better.