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38 SMT Magazine • October 2014 habits, to better use the fundamental resources and experience that exists in the manufacturing team, and to deliver the performance needed to take advantage of business opportunities. A typical Mulder and Scully episode starts with something strange and mysterious. Simi- larly, here we are at the pro- duction site, dressed in white coats, puffy blue shoe covers, and peaked caps, looking as though we are about to per- form an alien autopsy. An ee- rie green glow greets us as we open the door to production, which is what you might ex- pect from light towers on top of the SMT machines; but, why are they shining green while the SMT machines are actually not producing? It's time we dig deeper and ask wit- nesses for their accounts. Pointing out a line of ma- chines, we are told that these are the very latest technology, the fastest, most accurate, and reli- able models available, a significant investment intended to enable the company to satisfy the most demanding of customer needs. So, I ask the obvious question about why the machines are not running. The answer is simply that the machines are fully set up and ready to run, but the next assembly process is running slower than expected, such that too much stock has built up in between. So the line has to wait. This surely was not a condition that was planned for. And it has been happening more frequently as customers try to streamline their stock-holding in between the factory and the final customers. It transpired that the current work order scheduled for this particular line, following the factory plan issued some weeks ago, had changed. A 20% reduction of the deliv- ery rate was requested, over a four-week period. The ability to provide this flexibility of out- put had been agreed upon by the factory and the customer as part of the deal negotiation. There was pride, as production managers had shown the customer their Lean assembly cell network, which could be tuned at short notice to provide ThE ESSEnTiAL piOnEEr'S SurvivAL guidE the delivery rate that the customer needed. This had been a critical factor in the factory's ability to win orders from this customer. As the delivery rate changes, certain cells are assigned to differ- ent tasks, ensuring maximum flex- ibility and productivity. It is the Lean manufacturing model. While showing the pro- duction area to the customer, at the last minute, the cus- tomer also requested a visit to the SMT area. Urgently, it was decided to adapt the light towers on the SMT machines to show green in all cases where the machines were ready, and not necessarily only when they were adding value actually making prod- ucts. The customer's impres- sion at a glance would be that the whole operation was Lean. The reality, however, was quite different. The change in the green light qualification also had to be reflected in the charts and dashboards of productivity. The cus- tomer would see these too. When there was a good reason that the machines were not expect- ed to work, the time was not included in the down-time reports. The resultant productivity levels looked very reasonable, nothing to cause concern from the customer. Inevitably, however, as the recorded down- time was reduced, according to data in the re- ports, the uptime, that is the runtime of the machines, was correspondingly increased. Here was the conspiracy, one in which, to satisfy the appearance of the factory to a customer, the reporting system had been compromised. The concerned production members thought that this was an internal issue within the control of production, without any effect on productiv- ity improvement programs because these proj- ects record relative improvement, whatever the baseline may be. No matter how accurate or inaccurate the base data were, the real perfor- mance trend was not going to be affected. The goal as set out by business management with this customer had been achieved, with little sense of collateral damage. A typical Mulder and Scully episode starts with something strange and mysterious. Similarly, here we are at the production site, dressed in white coats, puffy blue shoe covers, and peaked caps, looking as though we are about to perform an alien autopsy. " " stOP the smt cOnsPiracY: Part 1 continues

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