Assembly Productivity Rate Improvements

B

Bob Stevens

#1
I have been assigned the task in my company's Continuous Improvement meeting to improve productivity throughput based on implementing process improvements. My team and I have developed several ideas on changes we could make to which could improve out throughput but before we start, we are uncomfortable with how the productivity rates were originally established.

The assembly operations are all Manual using lightweight components such as applying and o-ring to a pipe thread or applying sealant to the threads on a small vent. My predessor decided the best way to establish the productivity rates was to have three seperate operators assemble product for 1 hour each. Then he used the total number of assemblies built, divided that number by three a decided that would be the hourly rate for that operation. My group & I do not think that was the best way to determine a manual assembly production rate.

Does anyone have a suggestion on how to develop a manual productivity rate my team and I could revew?

Please advise.
 
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CarolX

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#2
best way

Hi Bob,

Just a little brainstorming....

Why does your group not feel this was the best way?
Do you think the current rates are inaccurate?
What other ideas have they come up with for measuring productivity?
What would be gained by re-establishing the assembly rates?

Just thinking out loud.

CarolX
 
B

Bob Stevens

#3
Hi Carol,

Thank you for your response.

The problem we are running into is some of the assembly operators are able to perform the job at 120% to 180%, while others are only obtaining 70% to 100%. Manufacturing rates have always been easy because a machine will produce repetitive hourly rates as manned but when dealing with people, you introduce more variation. If I look at the factors on who is able to meet established rates, age is definately a contributing factor. With the current down trend in the automotive industry, I am beed directed to use productivity rates as one of the criteria's when downsizing. Additionally, operators have the possibility to earn a $50.00 productivity Bonus coupled with a $100.00 defect Free Bonus on a monthly basis. If I was to only keep and/or reward the younger operators, it becomes a discrimination issue

If possible, I'm looking for a system that will make the productivity requirement a challange for all operators. If the best way to establish these rates is taking an average of 3 operators, that is what we will continue to do. I will appreciate any additional thoughts you have.

Thank you

Bob Stevens
 
E

energy

#4
Ut Oh!

Originally posted by Bob Stevens
If I look at the factors on who is able to meet established rates, age is definately a contributing factor. With the current down trend in the automotive industry, I am been directed to use productivity rates as one of the criteria's when downsizing. If I was to only keep and/or reward the younger operators, it becomes a discrimination issue If possible, I'm looking for a system that will make the productivity requirement a challange for all operators.
What a dilema:eek: Sounds like you are trying to be fair. With you being directed to use the rates as established, you can become of one "down sizing" casualties if you try to "curve" the rate to protect the senior citizens. Profit, not people is what you are being told. Good Luck.

An "Old Man"
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#5
Bob,

To establish a fair production rate, you must do a careful study of the process itself. From my perspective, throughput needs to be determined through no fewer than 25 data points, perhaps 25 days of production on a run chart. What were the yields each day? What is the average? What are the upper and lower control limits? Your daily throughput will be in between the limits. What does the chart look like? Do we have trends, shifts, and instability of any type? For instability or outliers, have you made notes recording their causes? Once you have determined the upper and lower controls and the average, you can make some inferences in regards to the arbitrarily established production rates or the rates determined by a 3 data point average (not very likely to be of significant use as is evident with the wide range of efficiencies). Often times, you are either too hard on Production workers, or you create unnecessary idle time. Sometimes you guessed right.

When setting targets, you must work within the limits themselves. Any goal established outside of the limits is not only unfair, it will lead to trouble elsewhere in the system. Many believe that continuous improvement can only be achieved through stable and predictable process (controlled processes). I agree with this statement. However, improvement itself (not of the continuous improvement variety) can be achieved through corrective action to unstable process (processes out of control).

I would also totally eliminate the bonus program. Lots of inherent assumptions about the use of these tactics that are just plain false. People need to find joy in their work. You can help them best by eliminating the factors that rob them of this pride and joy. Make sure that Herzberg’s hygiene factors are satisfied and work to help workers find their masked intrinsic motivation. A motivated and satisfied worker is more likely to show up for work and out produce those who require incentives and bribes to do their work. Using incentives leads to the use of more and larger incentives. What will happen when your organization hits hard times and can no longer afford such luxuries?

Just some thoughts…

Kevin
 
Last edited:

CarolX

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#6
ouch!!!!

Bob,

Definetly a tough one!


Kevin has some great points. Looks like you do need to do some more detailed studies of your assembly rates.




With the current down trend in the automotive industry, I am beed directed to use productivity rates as one of the criteria's when downsizing.
You definitely don't want to use this as your only criteria if downsizing becomes neccessary. For yourself, why don't you develope a matrix for the department. You can list out other attributes for the assemblers. Things such as attendance, attitude, adaptability, leadership skills. Many time the older workers are the most knowledgable about the product line, can work with a VERY minimum of supervision and are dependable. If you develope your matrix now, you will have a tool to justify your recomendations at downsizing time.

Good Luck!!!!!

CarolX
 
A

Al Dyer

#8
Bob,

Were there rates established during the quoting process and contract review.

A machine has an output limit that cannot usually be met because of preventive maintenance, tool wear/breakage, bathroom breaks etc... These are all excuses that should be defined before the process goes into production.

A: The campany has to have a minimum production rate to be profitable.

B: This needs to be determined during product realization as a part of the quoting and feasibility process.

C: If a production rate is set then all employees should meet that requirement.

D: If need be, employees need to be re-trained and if that doesn't work they need to be disciplined in some manner.

E: If an employee receives enough write-ups there needs to be a process of getting rid of the employee or re-assigning them.

By all means keep as much documentation as possible to back your future position.

As a personal note I would say that any type of study should include as many employees as possible. Put the Qualitty or Production Managers on the line and see what they do. At the very least I think that any such study should cover at least a months worth of data. 1 man with a stop clock watching an 8 hour shift is surely not enough to get a full picture of the process.:bigwave:
 
H

HFowler

#9
Bob,

I've heard of some companies publishing the "Best Rate Achieved" instead of an established production rate. This "sets the bar" for others to attain equal or better results.

Just a thought.

Good Luck!
Hank Fowler
:)
 
G

Greg M

#10
If you want to be fair with the process you need to do an element breakdown. A time study that would include quality checks. This is called "JIDOKA" build in quality at the process.
This element study will help you line balance to whole process.
As well as point out the bottle necks in the current system. You should invest in a "KAIZEN" program continuous improvement.
 
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