QCO can prompt outstanding ingenuity and problem solving in teams. At the same time, major gains often come from simple, well-known measures. This is because people commonly know where waste is occurring in their team’s work, but can’t see the connection between that waste and its impact on the overall job, their workload and their frustrations. QCO is one of the most effective methods for revealing, visualising and giving understanding to that impact. In essence, it lowers the wall, makes waste visible, and provides a personal challenge connected with a bigger picture.

Our first blog looked at the general concept and benefits of QCO and our second blog looked at six keys to implementing QCO. Here, we are sharing a few quick wins for teams getting started.

Well-organised tooling and equipment

A classic example of linking waste with impact is well-organised tooling and equipment – our first quick win. Effective work area organisation and 5S principles are important to workgroup productivity. It would be difficult to find a team that doesn’t fully align to that idea. Yet, it is still fairly common to find teams managing their work without 5S in place.

In an ideal scenario, teams already have 5S driving their workshop set-up before beginning QCO. That way, it enables optimum results from QCO workshops and supports more advanced elements of an overall system work to full effect. However, not having 5S does not preclude you from getting full value out of QCO. It will simply become one of your first initiatives as a foundation for sustaining results from there.

Robust application of 5S techniques will help to identify tooling and equipment that is not available in the planning phase. If requirements are identified in advance, when a shutdown or daily maintenance starts, the team will avoid the time wasted trying to find and organise their tools and equipment. We have seen this add up to considerable lost time, especially if the work cannot continue without the specific tool or equipment. Purpose-built jigs and handling devices, and ready-made parts kits, are just some of the solutions that have really come into their own over the past few years to increase efficiency.

Team commitment to on-time handover

If the change over relates to another team, such as operations, all the hard work to reduce downtime can be lost if that handover isn’t streamlined. Overcoming this requires a two-way commitment to on-time handover. For example, a commitment from operations to ensure machinery is cleaned and ready for maintenance to begin without any obstruction from other teams, and a commitment from maintenance to ensure the team is focused on handing over the equipment ready for service (eg free from maintenance tooling and equipment, cleaned from all excess grease and lubricants, permits closed and machinery de-isolated) to support a fast restart to production.

Smart breaks and handover management

Poor break and shift handover management is a key contributing factor to idle time. This includes lack of consideration for environmental factors. For example, if a team is working in hot, humid conditions for extended periods, that will decrease their efficiency and productivity, in addition to presenting a very real safety hazard. Solutions such as rotating teams to keep up work momentum and reduce productivity loss, rotating short breaks to rehydrate and focus on the task ahead, and overlapping shifts when maintenance activities run over an extensive period of time (eg 24-hour work coverage) to permit a detailed handover and continuous work flow, are all ways to improve change-over time.

Ready-to-go permits and isolations

We often see valuable time lost when a plant is down while waiting for permits and isolations. With simple communication and preparation, this can be avoided. Prepare all permit and isolation documentation during the set-up/preparation period, prior to the equipment being taken offline. Also, ensure timings and requirements for permit issue and isolations are communicated with relevant parties. Because QCO frees up resources to add value elsewhere, we’ve often worked with teams to reallocate savings into a dedicated permit issuer/isolator for specific plant, taking those efficiencies even further.

Of course, these are just four of many time-saving, waste-removing solutions you can consider as part of your QCO process. The result always comes down to reducing the time between value-adding steps within a process. If you haven’t yet implemented QCO with your people, we encourage you to look into it. If you have any questions about where to start or how to deliver a robust QCO program, please get in touch with our team.