Monday, July 2, 2012

What can I do??

Shops can be messy. Even with the best of intentions and under the most disciplined care, the constant stream of inbound projects, mid-process detritus and outbound scrap can quickly become an ameobic force of nature, creeping into every nook and cranny and eventually spilling into areas that would be better used as work space.

 The psychological ramifications can be crippling. When constantly faced with pieces and parts of several jobs at once, I find it hard if not impossible to clear my head and find peace in the shop. Since my shop is also a factory floor and art studio, the problem is compounded and leads to sporadic cleaning frenzies during which valuable parts and pieces are often misplaced and sometimes lost forever.

 As a useful training tool for new people in the shop, I have developed a simple and effective tool to help answer the question of how to deal with order in the small shop environment. The basic concept is that You are always looking for ways to improve. Ways to improve the product, the profitability or in this case ways to improve the state of the shop as it relates to orderliness specifically.

 When faced with an object out of place take one of five actions:

 1. Put it away.

 If it has a home and you know where that home is, putting it away is your best bet.

 2. Get it closer.

 If you can't put it away now, for whatever reason*, Get it closer to where it goes.

3. Consolidate it.

Get it together with the other stuff like it.  Consolidation can be straightforward: "All the aluminum stock is over there now."  Or a little squishier: "I didn't know what this was, but it looked like a hammer so I put it with the hammers."

4. Move it.

If no other option exists, and you simply need something out of the way...

5. Leave it.

It's not in the way, and you can't help. Don't even try, just move on.  

Over the next few days, I will drill into these individually a bit more.

*There are a number of reasons you might not be able to put something away and I will talk about this later.  If you don't know where something goes, or if it has no home, then simply move on to #3.

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