Jul 11, 2006

String-savin' granddad

Granddaddy ran a tool crib at a Chrysler assembly plant back in the day. Here's what he had to say about some tough times and cut-backs...

“The white collar experts decree that our main cribs of supplies maintain stock on a 30-day basis. Anything not called for in 30 days is gone, so as it falls to all of us accumulators, I have more and more visitors as perfectly good tools and equipment are taken away.

“A sample – I take a rec to tool crib for 50 3/8-in. dia steel balls. They have been sent to storage because they were not needed in the last 30 days. I go to Storage, but not knowing the Commodity Number, perhaps something like QST 795-6021-5 LA, I refrain from raising the roof and get a couple of new ball bearings and wreck them for the needed balls. Soon there will be more new bearings bought for me to bust.

“Often though, they ask me what I want with certain items and I will not tell them so am refused. This conjures up a bit of doing but like the bearings, there are always things to break up and the scrap pile about a mile out in the back is not closed to me.

“Two guys who repair the portable tools have to get recs signed by three people before they can use the dowels, gears, etc, that they already have in their cribs. When they run out, due to ordering delay and summary cancellations, they come to me for things.

“An old garbage-scanner and string-saver like me must constantly look over his properties so that when the other departments send their men on emergency errands to me they get quick and agreeable service." - J .R. McWhorter, December 4, 1960

Sounds absurd, but if you did some close observation in your plant, would you find similar hoards and workarounds? What about the beautiful red tool chests the shop-floor people don’t want to give up? When people can count on getting what they need quickly, there’s no need for storage.

When “white-collar” guys and gals make “decrees” about things like how much stock to keep and how to control decisions about what gets released to those who need it, they frustrate and demean people who know what they need to get the job done. Yes, everyone wants to save money and get to zero inventory, but some situations call for buffers and back-ups until the reasons for them have been cleared up.

In the office too. Dianna and Faith, along with some other SME folks, have been clearing out those departmental office-supply stashes - there are enough staples, paper clips and sundry other items to supply the Army for a year. Hmm...the Army? More like a couple of hours - but you get the drift. Staples (the store) or Office Depot can get you anything you need the next day, so you don't need much of a buffer. No kanbans for the supplies yet, but they'll be introduced soon.

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