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Speaking of Precision

Speaking of Precision is a knowledge preservation and thought leadership blog covering the precision machining industry, its materials and services. With over 36 years of hands on experience in steelmaking, manufacturing, quality, and management, Miles Free (Milo) Director of Industry Research and Technology at PMPA helps answer "How?" "With what?" and occasionally "Really?"

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4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

Posted August 31, 2010 12:01 AM by Milo

When you have been in manufacturing long enough, you begin to recognize a few common themes. Four buckets, if you will, for the problems to collect in.

When it comes to Engineering Changes or Process Changes, here are the 4 buckets that come to my mind.



























Bucket Number 1
- Claiming savings that don't really exist. I also call this Green Belt Fantasy #1, and Boss Delusion # 1. Typically the savings or "improved performance" aren't sustained if they show up at all. The academic name for this bucket is the Hawthorne Effect, or the "Observers Paradox."

Bucket Number 2- Ignoring labor fringe benefits (and overhead.) This can easily be 20% or more per labor dollar and just because the accountants claim they have it figured in doesn't mean they do. Overhead is a dumpster itself of hidden problems, buried corpses -err, costs- that always has its own persistent odor.

The fraternal twin of this is failing to account for unanticipated maintenance costs. I call this bucket the Iceberg Bucket because you only see a tiny part of the real problem.




















Bucket Number 3
- Using production time estimates that reflect substantially different rates of work. The best example of this that I can recall was in a movie where the producer had a time study of how a chair was being painted (by brush) so he could low ball the quote. (He needed a bunch of chairs for his production.) After the producer got his lowball price accepted, the painting contractor picked up his signed copy of the contract and hollered to his crew "SPRAY EM!" In our industry we wouldn't dream of using setup time estimates for a cam machine on a CNC machine, but…

I call this Bucket Number 3 the Apples to Oranges Bucket

















Bucket Number 4
is the most trying of all. We all like to think that we make decisions on the basis of cold hard facts and rational decision making. But research with people whose brains have been injured have shown that their purely cold hard rational decisions with no emotional inputs almost always tend to be poor ones. Our mental processes have a lot more adrenalin and other "chemical inputs" than we will admit. If we really want to make a project happen, we somehow manage to ignore, under weigh, or fail to consider unquantifiable critieria, especially relating to human performance issues of those affected. Employee fatigue, effort required, distractions effect on performance, and job disatisfaction. I call this bucket The Invisible Bucket because it holds the costs of change that you cannot see and cannot measure- disruption, resistance to change, adjustment time, learning curve issues etc… All of these are invisible at the time when you most need to see them.
















Worker acceptance of change is difficult to predict
. It is even more difficult to manage.

But the key in my experience to eliminating all of these buckets is to get the employees that have to do the work a contributing role on the team to implement the change.

"Become the change you wish to see" and "The easiest way to deal with change is to help create it" are 2 truisms that can help your people get involved and so avoid dealing with the 4 ugly buckets described above.

How do you avoid tripping over these buckets in your operations?

Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Milo for sharing this blog entry, which originally appeared here.

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#1

Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

08/31/2010 11:49 AM

Bucket #5 : The law of unintended consequences.

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Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

09/01/2010 9:23 AM

That's the invisible bucket.

The four buckets is a great analogy and a great tool to use to encourage making a risk assessment before following through with any new change.

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#2

Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

08/31/2010 2:06 PM

interesting......are some of the descriptors personal labels?

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#3

Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

09/01/2010 2:39 AM

Is this a description of office engineering without pertinent field experience?

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#5

Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

09/01/2010 3:19 PM

Be the empty bucket!

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Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

09/01/2010 4:18 PM

you have learned quickly........grass hopper..

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Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

09/01/2010 4:25 PM

that is the cheapest ga I've ever gotten..

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Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

09/01/2010 4:26 PM

you sure complain alot

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Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

09/01/2010 4:39 PM

I have certain skills, but with them comes certain foibles and neuroses.

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Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

09/01/2010 4:43 PM

Laziness does pay off then????

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Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

09/01/2010 4:59 PM

word has it he's going to write a book on the subject......And his going to include a chapter about Procrastination. Word also has it, he's going to start it tomorrow.

Remember you heard it here first.

p911

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#14
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Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

09/01/2010 5:08 PM

I'm going to record it as an audio book, so that my big mouth can solve my laziness problem...

I'm just not sure how to solve the big mouth problem with laziness...

"Work fascinates me... I could watch it for hours"

"I had a strong motivation to work.. but I just laid down till the feeling went away"

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#15
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Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

09/01/2010 5:18 PM

How did you know? Here is the last message I received from him

At least he doesn't waste any time on bad humor. It was bloody empty! Sorry we ended up in the kitty litter so early Milo. It's all good now, Ky.

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#6

Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

09/01/2010 3:33 PM

You guys Rock!

Thanks for the interest and support.

Milo

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Re: 4 Mistakes When Making Engineering Or Process Changes

09/01/2010 3:44 PM

Good to have you around Milo.

One downside of the presentation is, that from the very beginning, I am humming away the melody from

"There's a hole in the bucket oh Henry, oh Henry".

I'll fix that, just you wait and see, Ky

Still humming

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