Tool control is the measure of ensuring productivity, efficiency, safety and cost savings within a factory or workplace. Originally introduced by an American engineer, Bill Smith, the Six Sigma is a range of five techniques and tools for improvement in production processes.
The Six Sigma focuses on sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain. These strategies are designed to improve the manufacturing output with the use of quality management measures, to minimise impact in the workplace.
As a designer, manufacturer and supplier of protective presentation cases and foam packaging, PottertonPacs enlists tool control within our factory environment to remain environmentally friendly and efficient, specialising in custom made tool cases.
In this article, we explain some of the processes from the Six Sigma strategies that we have adopted within our factories and workplace.
Choosing between what you need and what you don’t need is critical to keep the workplace tidy.
It’s worth removing things that are no longer needed in order to decrease clutter and keep the workplace safe. Some ideas are to remove items that aren’t used in that area of the workplace, keep them to their own zones or in storage.
You can optimise how you sort items, ask staff to flag up unneeded items – which not only allows you to sort them but also gives staff the ability to think for themselves regarding what is used and what is needed.
Another method of sorting the workplace is to identify which equipment and materials are used on a high – medium – low basis. This means that you should keep the highly used items in the work area, and then decide whether or not the medium or low basis items are really needed in that area or if they can be moved elsewhere.
The last tip for sorting is to make sure you always have a ‘holding area’ for those miscellaneous items that have been moved around, in order to clear up workspaces you will always need a storage area.
To straighten is to make sure that each item has their own home, somewhere it can easily be picked, identified and is accessible to everyone. This is why you should identify each item and material in the workplace, give it its own space and create a system so that staff can easily find and pick these items without wasting time.
To better straighten a work-area you can identify and assign fixed areas for certain types of materials (i.e. wood, plastic, metal) and give each type its own area. Assign fixed quantities in these areas and always make sure that quantity is always replenished when it’s starting to run low.
Compact your storage areas – be sure to organise and keep items in compact areas to save space – this will also benefit staff as it will be easier to look over and search a small space.
Be sure to place heavy items at appropriate heights on shelves and make sure that they are easily accessible to pick.
Make sure that your work area is always clean and clutter-free. In doing so, you can improve safety and also identify problems easier (any damage or liquids that have spilt).
You can also put in place easy to follow and correct procedures to identify causes of uncleanliness and mess – whether this is spills from equipment and items or members of staff that are leaving items in places they shouldn’t be.
Always keep tools operable and in good condition. This means that when they are needed they will always be readily available. This should be a daily exercise and although easy to forget about, it is one of the most crucial to have a clean and safe workplace.
Track the cleanliness of your workspace by using charts and action sheets that staff can sign off or note their progress on – this keeps a record of what’s been done and where. By doing this, you can notice trends and patterns.
By standardising you are keeping track of your best practices and making sure that they are enforced. This is done via visual management which allows you to keep an eye on work areas and staff to make sure that both are operating at peak efficiency.
Make sure that each area of the workplace is relevant and consistent with other areas, by keeping your work-flow at a high standard. Create processes to make sure that standards are kept in place and followed through all areas of the workplace.
By keeping standards this allows you to move staff into different areas that share the same standards without having to alter how they work. Make sure that staff report abnormalities to the management at all times so work-flow is always high and problems are resolved quickly.
You can place reminders in the work-place to ensure that employees are always aware of the standards that should be followed. These could be visual reminders such as diagrams or text.
Once the workplace is up to high standards, clean and everything is being sorted correctly and has its own place, it’s time to ensure that these are maintained and encouraged. By sustaining these conditions you will be able to follow them through to the long term and making a successful workplace.
Make sure that responsibilities are identified and assigned to appropriate staff – this could be management or supervisors. By passing down these rules to all staff, it will ensure that they make it a habit.
Another method to make sure that you are correctly sustaining the workplace is by doing regular audits and making sure that the conditions are being followed correctly and safely.
Finally, by following a long-term structure using the above methods it will ensure that you are continuously improving the organisation and that deadlines are met in an efficient and effective way.
How can PottertonPacs help you?
Get in touch with a member of our team to discuss how we can help you to create your ideal equipment case with custom foam padding inserts. We will be able to talk you through the process, whilst helping you find the perfect case and customising options that suit you and your specific business needs.
With one of the broadest ranges of bespoke interior solutions on the market, PottertonPacs are confident we will be able to propose a custom interior solution to suit your needs. We also offer custom fabricated, stitched, moulded and fabricated interior solutions too.
Get started on protecting your valuables today!