It's All About the Details

Here are a few examples of improvements resulting from this mold manufacturer's drive to weed out even seemingly minor inefficiencies.

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Attention to detail helps ensure a clean, orderly shop floor. (This and all subsequent images courtesy of Creative Technology Corp.)    

Look hard enough, and even the most seemingly peripheral processes and activities can reveal opportunities for time and cost savings. Likewise, even the most seemingly insignificant gains can add up to something greater.

That’s the prevailing view at A1 Tool Corporation, a Chicago-area mold manufacturer we covered in an August-issue feature article. Indeed, Geoff Luther, company president, says attention to detail deserves as much credit as any new technology for setting the shop apart. Here are just a few examples of recent changes driven by that attention:  

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“Cleaning pods” like this one ensure employees never have to waste time searching for cleaning products. Scattered strategically throughout the 90,000-square-foot facility, the pods offer Chicago-area facility, the pods contain all the equipment required to clean up a mess or just to maintain a tidy workspace.   

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These vertical racks conserve floor space compared to the previous strategy of storing ejector plates on flat skids.

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One key to facilitating attention to detail is ensuring everyone has a clear, accurate picture of the overall operation and their role within it. A1 accomplishes this by sharing critical information, such as process instructions, schedules, CAD models and more via workstation computers. This is also a two-way street: Having employees enter reasons for periods of downtime can add critical insight to reports generated in Pulse spindle-monitoring software. 

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In previous years, supervisors on the floor were often called away from whatever they were doing over the loudspeaker to answer urgent questions. Now, all use cell phones that double as two-way radios. This ensures those questions get answers while also minimizing distractions and interruptions. 

The aforementioned article offers three more specific examples, including new ways to cut waterline baffles, create grease grooves and handle larger blocks. Yet, the improvements themselves don’t tell the whole story. Just as critical are the strategies that facilitate the kind of attention to detail that drives them. Indeed, without the right culture, the right information, and a systems approach to every operation, these changes may never have come about in the first place. Read the article to learn more. 

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