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Contributing Millicent Gilmore

CHALLENGE Sometimes, when a solution is needed, engineers can run towards the Cadillac when a Corolla will do!  In my experience, improvements start with ideas but the ability to implement those ideas, tend to be driven by budget.  This is why I advise the engineers who work for me to use Apollo Root Cause and when they are working on a sustainable engineering project, offer an ideal and a practical solution. When I say practical, I mean what can you do right now to achieve the goal using little to no money at all.  Recently, there was a need to improve how we manage key fobs.  There were elaborate ideas and some really simple ideas that were painful to manage.  Key fobs had been getting misplaced or taken home mistakenly, leaving the site unable to restart our coater machines.  It’s a new Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) safety project that has been implemented but no one realized that the keys would become an issue.  Some of the ideas were to use a vending machine, RFID tags, using a sign in and out form with supervisors managing this from their offices while the key box was next to the coater, etc.

SOLUTION I asked everyone to think of our processes surrounding the coater and the access to the keys.  Instead of making something new, let’s try to use something we have in a new way, even modify it if need be.  The brainstorming session started to go downhill so I laid the following out of them:

  1.  People forget the key is in their pocket and once their shift ends, they go home leaving the machinery locked out.

  2. It takes about an hour to track down the fob keys and if the key is discovered offsite, it’s another 30 minutes to disable that key and reprogram another key.  This is 90 minutes of unplanned downtime with ever occurrence.  That means lost production and decreased productivity.

  3. We go through 2 scanners to get in and out of our site.

  4. Operators badge onto the system to begin using the coaters.

What can we do with what we have to ensure no one leaves the building with a fob key in their pocket? I’ve decided that the answer is to make it impossible to leave with a fob key.  So the I.D. cards we use to gain entry and exit to our site can be used to stop anyone with a fob key from exiting by always sound the security alarm and preventing the gate from opening. Just takes programming and using what we already have in place.  Those cards affixed to the fob keys will be programmed to always refuse exit and sound the alarm.  Great way to manage the keys without spending much money!

RESULT Results: ​We have eliminated downtime altogether from fob keys…we usually have over 28 hours of downtime each month and one hour of missed production costs the site $20k, yes $20k!  So were are saving $560k monthly!! Impact: $560,000 per month

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