Apr 25, 2012

How long has it been since you painted?


Blue Opal
I painted my kitchen yesterday. Why is that worth writing about? We have been working on this house for a year. It was owned by an elderly couple who had not painted in 20 years, so the kitchen had accumulated a film of cooking grease and paint degradation. It was depressing. Gloomy. Dark.

I was reminded of the lean implementations we started hearing about 20 years ago. Painting everything in the plant was one of the first things that people did, often as part of 5S, often believed to be right place to start. Many people still believe that. Sometimes it's true. Regardless, there are undeniable benefits to painting. Brighter, cleaner surroundings may improve employee morale and make defects more easily noticed. Some people actually understand that the purpose of painting a machine is to make problems visible to operators, who are trained to diagnose it or make a prompt call for maintenance.

How many of those plants are like my kitchen? Could it really have been 20 years since that plant-wide cleanup? How discolored and beat up have the walls, floor, and equipment become? Can you still see the yellow lines? How much STUFF has accumulated? If you thought a makeover was a one-time thing, you are probably in one of those organizations that never really figured out what lean is.

My kitchen's much improved, and I don't have that subliminal
Mystic Harbor
feeling of oppression when I'm in it. Unfortunately, I don't think I got the right shade of blue. I even bought samples and studied them for days, but Blue Opal looks too gray. (Not as gray as the image above, though.) Was Mystic Harbor really too intense? Live with it, or try again? Would one coat be enough to cover the Blue Opal? Even if my work's wasted, I thought lean when I bought my paint and got one gallon rather than two. My just-in-time purchasing plan means I only lost $23, not $46.

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