When you and I were kids, we would think of things like “I wish I could just fly over there” or “I’m going to get that object with my mind!”. Then, we would try to move things telepathically, and it would not work – at least it never did for me. Our reason for not walking could have been laziness but also unknowingly we evaluated the time and effort it would take to get to where we wanted. In a production factory, there is often plenty of wasted space, long aisles to walk down and mazes to walk through to get where we need. This is a tragic result of busy owners who have too much other important stuff to deal with. The wasted space is important, though. With precise planning, wasted space can be optimized for better organization, less effort, and more efficiency.
You should start with organizing the physical resources you have. List your needed materials; you will need something to write on. You can do this in your own house (i.e., tackling the living room). What are some of the limitations of your space? For example, the walls are stationary. What are several possibilities, something crazy you have not tried considering before? For example, if you put the couch cattycorner instead of against the wall; that’s weird, right? But you never know when something crazy might work for you or your situation so explore strange ideas. Next, you can use trial-and-error in your approach to get organized. Alternatively, a different approach is to draw up a layout with labels for each section, accounting for space needed and limitations. Double check that you have given everything a spot. Organizing is an important concept to grasp because you will have to come back to this step if your next steps do not work out.
Working the process, you will need to evaluate the tasks in the new layout. If you position the couch cattycorner, how does that work out? You may have found that the effort to get to the couch is high, and there is a better solution. In production, a great way to quantify effort is by weight of the object being manipulated. If that object is heavy, there is a large amount of effort being used to move it. Especially if walking and carrying the heavy object, the operator is being worn down, and this may lead to injury. You can interview your operators to find out what difficulty they rank the tasks, respectively. Also, ascertain that your operators are not experiencing muscle fatigue or pain. This is extremely important to correct in your process. In the living room example, the problem of your maze-like furniture is excessive walking. Your space creates this disadvantage, but you can plan an effortless space. You need to eliminate the walking involved as this is additional effort required by your operator.
To plan your most efficient space, you need to use visualization. How often do you walk to the other side of the room; do you have to walk around movable objects; how does each object need to be manipulated in the space that you have? To plan for an optimized space, you want to re-imagine it whilst moving imaginary objects. Efficiency can be measured with steps, taking more steps is less efficient. Efficiency would be greater is there no need to walk at all. How is it easiest to get to the couch; do you have to push an ottoman around? If the ottoman is wasting space, you could get an ottoman of smaller size, one that rolls, or one that also performs as another necessity. Efficient space can be accomplished with smaller, faster, and higher capacity tools. “Typical non-value-added operations include part movement through the plant; part storage in a queue waiting for work to be performed; lifting, positioning or locating a part in a work area; wrapping or packing a part for protection during in-plant movement or storage; and marking or engraving a part for identification purposes (unless specifically required by the customer).” Opening your eyes to this waste, you can start solving problems that are now clear.
There is a solution to your walking waste – better utilized space. You can make a plan and account for everything you need. Elimination of walking is a great way to ease the effort needed for tasks. Visualize what will make this the job more efficient. Your problem is solved, and you have a well-planned, more effortless, and highly efficient space.