Author Archives: Richard Herget

About Richard Herget

A lean leader and former plant manager, Rich Herget came to TBM in 2004 with nearly three decades experience in manufacturing. He brings to TBM expertise in Design for LeanSigma, specifically in the areas of plant layout, work cell design, and production preparation (2P). Prior to joining TBM, Rich served as plant manager for the Batesville Casket Company, where he led two of the company’s plants. At Batesville, he also served as KPO manager, area manager, materials manager and production supervisor. Rich was instrumental in implementing one-piece flow in most areas, eliminating paper schedules and creating a pull system from shipping through raw-materials replenishment. Rich began his lean education in the mid 1990s working with TBM, and has studied lean principles in Japan. He is especially sought after for his skills in leading 5S implementation and shop floor kaizen events, as well as mentoring and coaching KPO personnel.

Adherence Ensures Hour-by-Hour Boards Facilitate Teamwork, Rapid Problem Solving

Today’s plant floors are full of computers and other electronics, but my observation is when it comes to rapid problem solving, none of these can match the effectiveness of an hour-by-hour board. This visual tool enables tracking of planned versus actual output each hour at the cell/line level, as well as accurate and immediate documentation of reasons for not meeting goals. Sure they are low-tech and not as attractive as a colorful, high-definition display, but the effectiveness of hour-by-hour boards lies in this simplicity. They focus attention on the most important thing operators need to know: The score. Are we winning or losing? And if we are losing, why?

Hour-by-hour boards ensure that operators are taking ownership of their problems and solving them because they convey an indisputable account of performance. Hence, they support teamwork and break down silos. They instill accountability and stop guessing and finger pointing when things don’t go as planned. And they provide immediate feedback on what’s happening in the operation, which is essential for identifying improvement opportunities over the short and long terms.

To sustain a continuously improving production floor, interaction among machine operators, cell operators and supervisors must happen daily. An hour-by-hour board ensures this happens by focusing input from operators, maintenance personnel and support functions on the line/cell level or machine; and enabling any solution that is implemented to be evaluated the very next hour.

If an hour-by-hour board doesn’t return these benefits, chances are it is not being correctly and/or consistently used.

If you decide you want to use an hour-by-hour board, the first step is to pick a line, cell or machine that has an impact on your business and then train and educate employees on why you are implementing it, how it is going to affect them, what is expected of them, and the benefits that will be realized for them and the company.

Once the board is posted and ready to use, supervisors must ensure that operators correctly fill in performance data every hour. In the beginning, this requires coaching and mentoring, just as any other organizational change. Supervisors, managers and support group members should review the board frequently to make sure it is being used as required. At first you might get some resistance; however, if you stay on course, you’ll soon be able to show operators how using the board benefits them.

Generally people like to be part of the solution. When they can see that the board is there to help them solve their problems, they become excited and take ownership. Consider it a low-cost, high-return path to hourly engagement and long-term sustainability.

For a more detailed description of how hour-by-hour boards support ongoing problem solving and process improvement on plant floors, read Rich Herget’s briefing “Hour-by-Hour Boards: Faster Problem Solving the “Old School” Way.”