By Christian Green, Kepner-Tregoe

Your operations staff knows how your equipment and processes are performing daily. They also know how your manufacturing and operations processes are supposed to work. When these aren’t in alignment, something is awry in your operations and someone must act. Unfortunately, most operations staff members aren’t formally trained in the tools and process of problem solving and won’t be able to see an issue through to a resolution. However, recognizing an issue is at hand and knowing what to do next is almost as crucial as knowing how to solve it.

Problem solving at the operational level before large scale problems happen

Often people on the front lines of operations, such as maintenance technicians and machine operators, notice performance trends indicating there is a potential issue brewing such as; lower output rates, increased defects and/or declining trends in machine performance that indicate something is wrong. The closer one can get to the source of the issue, the better. This combined with good situational knowledge will go far to address a potential calamity quickly and inexpensively before big problems hit the fan. 

You don’t have to be an expert to be a part of the problem-solving team

As mentioned, not everyone on the front lines is well versed and trained in formal problem-solving methods and that’s okay. Operators with years of experience from being in the trenches every day often possess solid ability for resolving baseline issues, are great at collecting details to help investigations, and understand when to escalate to a formal problem solving effort. The key is to utilize knowledge across your team so that issues are resolved quickly and correctly to avoid an escalation that will have major operational impacts.

A little structure can go a long way

KT Frontline is a one-day workshop developed specifically for manufacturing and operations staff. During this condensed workshop, your employees will learn how to use the KT method to solve day-to-day operational problems. They will also learn how to identify bigger problems that must be reported, so specialists can resolve them. Not everyone will become KT problem-solving experts, but that’s okay. They don’t have to be an expert to be a valuable member of the problem-solving team – with some basic training, all your ops staff members can contribute to keeping your equipment and processes running smoothly and effectively.

Simulation and applied training are essential

KT Frontline isn’t a boring lecture where an instructor talks endlessly about theory and conceptual process. It is a practical workshop designed to give operations employees a basic understanding of the KT method, but, more importantly, to provide them with the tools and skills they need to apply problem-solving techniques in their day-to-day work environment. Employees learn through simulation, working with their peers to understand how problem-solving works at your company and how to identify new problems, help identify root causes and determine what must be done to fix problems.

Applying problem-solving during the job

Operations staff members have two very important tasks during the problem-solving process. They help identify when a problem is occurring by understanding when equipment, systems, processes, etc. aren’t working as they should. They also capture data to support the problem-solving process. KT Frontline helps your employees perform these tasks more effectively. If they see a problem, should they try to fix it? Should they ignore it? Should they ask for help? Without understanding the options available to them, employees are left to guess and hope they are addressing problems correctly. Guessing and hoping typically result in missing problems that could easily be addressed and create lingering impacts to your operations.

Capturing data to support the problem-solving process is the second key task of your operations staff. The KT Frontline workshop helps employees understand what data to capture, what to do with that data and how to use it to solve the current problem. By understanding the end-to-end problem-solving process, employees will be better prepared to capture data that is useful for identifying the root cause of the issue, separating symptoms from underlying issues, understanding dependencies and interpreting the relevance of monitoring data and alerts.

Up-level team performance

A team is only effective if each of its members knows their individual tasks and how to interact with others in support of the common objective. KT Frontline for Operations provides your manufacturing employees the basics so they can be valuable contributors to your company’s problem-solving team. By working and learning together, your employees can become great problem-solving assets for your company. 

Find out about KT’s Workshop Frontline For Operations
 

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