It is reassuring in operations when the probability of a negative event occurring is limited. In reality though many small problems recur and cause significant problems, because they are not properly addressed, often creating significant production and financial loss. Such lack of operational efficiency is often hidden in the finances of an operation, to eventually show up unexpectedly.
It is common cause that using proper logical thinking combined with sound technical knowledge, we can curb the probability of recurring problems, often though …, we err!
Seeing the wood for the trees, in the haze of high volume production targets and technological complexity, is vital. Our thinking should be efficient and we should have the skill to break down the multitude of problems experienced in to logical components, separate these in terms of priorities and systematically solve them.
In the face of stakeholder pressure, priorities may be affected, but the logic is that priority determination needs to be done to ensure that we do not neglect attending to recurring problems. Clearly visible prioritization of recurring problems, on an ongoing basis, reduces the prospect of these problems falling by the wayside.
Operations Managers and key technical staff should have as a Key Performance Indicator the resolution of recurring problems. Fundamentally, this assists in the control and stability of the production process. Typically it should aim to address issues being experienced on an ongoing basis, such as:
- Quality Defects
- Rework Activity
- Machine Setup
- Machine Downtime
- Minor Safety Incidents that does not result in losses
The above shall be possible if all operations staff has a good understanding and competence in respect of basic and advanced technical trouble shooting. This competence should enable them to answer questions such as:
- Which recurring problems should be considered?
- To what extent will these recurring problems cause losses?
- What solutions will be helpful?
- How do we ensure these a problem do not recur?
The result is in an operations workforce that thinks and who has the ability to identify and troubleshoot problems proactively. This will enable operations management to allow problem solving to take place at the coalface where it matters most reducing frustrations for all stakeholders.