Just wait a second...

By Joe Torrago on April 5, 2017

When someone says this, they don't literally mean one second. After all, what could possibly happen in one second? Well, think about this. I was looking at the results of this year's Daytona 500 race held in February. The difference between the first place finisher and the 3rd place finisher was less than 1 second. As a matter of fact, the difference between the 1st place finisher and the 7th place finisher was less than 2 1/2 seconds. So what can happen in 1 second? In the race car world, a whole lot. This whole lot adds up to lots of money for the winner and a lot less for the runner ups, even though six of them were less than 3 seconds behind in a race that took between 3 and 4 hours.

So why do I bring up car racing in a blog I usually talk about manufacturing? Because the parallels are striking. The pit stop is basically a make ready and the time on the track is basically machine run time. The objectives in both cases are the same. Minimize make ready, and keep the machine running to meet the demand.

Pit time is measured in seconds. Pit crews assemble their tools and prep work and determine a choreography of people, equipment and materials to minimize the time in the pit. A reduction of fractions of seconds in the pit can mean the difference between winning and losing. No matter how fast the car runs, it cannot make up the loss of time in the pit.

Same goes for manufacturing. Make ready time should be quick, well-choreographed and planned the same way a car in the pit is. Reductions of seconds or fractions of seconds can make all the difference between meeting customer demand or not meeting it.

I work with many clients who are intent on running machines faster or buying machines because they can run faster than the ones currently owned. However, as shown on the track in Daytona, the race is won and lost in the pit. Similarly, the race to meet the customer demand, is won and lost in make ready. Yet many companies believe the path to success is to run equipment faster, and to look for newer equipment that can out run their current machines.

In the world of Lean, there is a tool called Quick Changeover (QCO) that focuses on the make ready, the pit crew of the manufacturing world. I would be happy to discuss how to apply this tool to your work place.