Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Control of production at I. Technical Services

Managing operations can be as simple as ringing a bell. That’s the philosophy that I. Technical Services has taken in Alpharetta, Georgia. I. Technical Services (www.itechserv.com) performs electronic manufacturing services, including PCB assembly, system assembly, test engineering, repair, and logistics. They compete against low-cost companies in Asia and elsewhere, so they have to be as efficient and lean as possible. One of their most efficient processes for managing production is their “bell meeting.” At 9 AM every morning, their production supervisor rings a ship’s bell mounted on the wall. All the managers and supervisors assemble under the bell for a stand-up meeting that lasts about 15 minutes. They discuss what is running that day, what needs to be shipped, and any obstacles or concerns. Important notes are recorded on a white dry-erase board right below the bell. “Everybody leaves that meeting knowing exactly what needs to happen,” Quality Manager, Hector Rivera, stated. “It’s the best investment of 15 minutes you can imagine.” Throughout the day, employees refer to the production notes on the white board, keeping themselves focused on what was agreed to. They ring the bell again at 3 PM every day, and the key players once more gather around the bell. The focus of this later meeting is to get everybody caught up on the current status of production. Where are we right now? What is left to be done? Will we meet all of our commitments today? Resources are re-arranged, as needed, and last minute roadblocks are removed. The General Manager, Lauren Thompson, summarized the process by saying, “When we come together under the bell, we’re not managers of different departments. We’re a single team working to wow the customer. It reminds us why we’re there in the first place.” I. Technical Services has conducted their bell meeting twice a day for years. It’s a very simple, yet powerful process for controlling production. 

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