Giving employees on the working floor tasks and responsibilities that were only done by mangers in the past. It is a technique that is used by many successful companies to increase employee productivity. Also in the logistical sector positive effects were measured. Employees are enabled to make decisions themselves in order to prevent delays, e.g. when receiving goods or when sending a shipment to an important customer.
‘Andon Cord’ at Toyota
The principle is based on the ‘Andon Cord’ idea. The car factories of Toyota are equipped with a so called ‘Andon Cord’. This is a physical cord at the production line which an employee can pull when he sees that something does not go as it should. The production line stops and the team leader fixes the problem together with the employee so the production line can move on. Next to that they look if the problem can be (structurally) improved or prevented so it will not happen again.
‘I know a better package’-button in PackAssist
We applied the same way of thinking in PackAssist with the ‘I know a better package’-button. In this way PackAssist enables employees to indicate that according to them a product is packed in the wrong box. This can be about a too large or too small box, but also a too fragile box or too much protection. It is very valuable to use the “eyes on the floor” in this way. After all, the one that first notices a possible improvement is often on the warehouse floor.
That the button in PackAssist is a success became clear very quickly. A few months after implementation one of our customers received thousands of reports in no-time. Engineers design a box for a product, but they often miss the know how that is built by working in the warehouse every day.
“Engineers design a box for a product, but they often miss the know how that is built by working in the warehouse every day.”
Successfully collecting information from the working floor
The main reason that this way of gathering “improvement ideas” is successful, is because PackAssist is approachable, unambiguous and easy to use. The operator does not need to go through long lists of data of which at least half of the questions is not relevant. PackAssist is intelligent: when you give a certain answer you get the right follow up question. On top of that it uses visuals to get questions even more clear. In short, PackAssist is user friendly and easy to use.
This way of information gathering brings a couple of advantages. Employees who report that products are not in the correct box save a lot of money for the company. By suggesting a smaller box less air is being shipped. Adding extra protection reduces the number of DOAs.
Next to that people often have a lot of ideas to increase productivity and save costs, but they don’t have the confidence to share these ideas with their manager. The button removes this boundary. Moreover, the positive feedback gives an extra pat on the back. They are proud of their job, have more responsibility and know they can make the difference. In this way they can lift the company to a higher level.
Do you want to know more about the functionalities of PackAssist?
Bart van Dijck
Project Manager FPC