August 3rd, 2021
Our challenges are many, but our focus is clear: We must continue our quest to keep our teams safe and our customers supplied with essential doors and windows. The strange concurrence of low labor availability with a high unemployment rate and high product demand are at best difficult. There are some innovative basics that will help, and these ideas should guide your quest.
The concept and depth of Reliability is one of the most important foundations you can build into your company. Reliability is the basis for resilience in your ability to keep your promises for product delivery and service delivery. What is foundational reliability? It is the following.
- Safety above all to respect everyone on every team;
- Machinery that is maintained to better than original operation with zero downtime;
- Processes that produce exceptionally low defect rates and quickly flex to demand changes;
- People who are invested through training and incentives;
- Facilities that are world class, and that remain clean, safe and bright;
- Products that are innovative, easy to build, designed to last, and eliminate field failure; and
- Vendors that are partners, completely aligning with your reliability.
The implementation of these programs is a long-term project and an extensive rebuilding effort for most companies. The value that can be gained from a reliability program is justification for the effort. The effort can take 48 to 60 months to implement. My experience advises that an executive team that champions working with an outside consultant provides the most effective and efficient route to implementation. The starting point is a frank and clear analysis of where you are in comparison to what is reasonable and possible for your business.
Many times, the analogy of learning to block and tackle before running a double reverse is appropriate. The many inefficiencies of normal business operations are often buried under levels of habits. If your machines are breaking down, you typically find a way to run more overtime or buy backup machines. If your safety programs are failing, you typically find a way to add more slogans and programs. You see the point, I’m sure, that covering over the symptoms won’t provide long term value. We must pursue the basics – the blocking and tackling of business, which is foundational reliability.
Rest assured that if we stay on the path to reliability, we will be rewarded. To be effective also requires solid buy in from the team. To accomplish this, full sharing of the benefits must be embodied. This can be done through profit sharing, impro-sharing, or ESOP plans. I cannot emphasize how important this can be!