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Set the Pace for Your Factory

Pace is not about stride length. Pace is used as a measurement of work rate. Studying pace allows you to know how your operators are doing and how they are affecting the production. Pace does not mean moving slow or fast. Pace is comparing their speed to a standard to guide you in determining if they are working at an acceptable pace. You can determine pace by studying videos of pace set by MODAPTS standards. The MODAPTS Manual states, “Pace does not mean a consciously measured tread, but one which is naturally taken”. This is helpful to understand when watching the videos. In MODAPTS, movement is measured by counting repetitions and distance travelled during natural movements. Pace is a work rate. Pace is not a "Fair Day's Work" because the operations need to allow operators to work at a natural, steady pace. Pace is merely a measurement of a rate, not the goal rate. Working at an inconsistent pace can cause bottlenecks, increase errors, and decrease quality.

The factory manager needs to know pace because they need to determine a pace for the line that reduces bottleneck time. If an operator is having to work very fast or very slow, the operator’s assignment may need more or less work. Some assignments may be better suited for slower operators. After finding these indications, you can make adjustments. Adjustments to the workload for each operator can help productivity. Adjustments may look like taking tasks of one operator and giving it to the other or adding operators to the floor to take on tasks that were overwhelming the staff.

An overwhelmed operator may be moving too quickly to do the job correctly and may make errors. Pace allows for an operator to do the job correctly the first time. Adequate time given to the operator allows them to stay focused and relaxed which would lead to less errors. When an error occurs, a major bottleneck can occur because the operator might need to fix that error, slowing the process. Another result of errors is losing a product which would hurt output and profits. When the operator is working at a natural rate, it should mean they perform without error.

When quality or “… satisfying customers was in the hands of the people who actually did the work of making the product or providing the service”, managers are responsible that operators have the proper environment to make quality products. The production needs a maintainable pace. If every operator can do their job without error, then the entirety of the floor will be a well-integrated system. Every operator would be a link in the chain; with every strong link, a quality product will be the outcome.

Proper pace will help production goals and employee job satisfaction. Determining the correct amount of work for the operator allows for the production to flow and not have a bottleneck. Pace would also help operators to focus, keeping them able to make products without errors. A product is the result of an entire line having the correct environment. The environment being one with a pace that works for the operators making the quality products.

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