‘Lean’ wagons through the workshop

‘Standardised Work’, one of the foundations of Lean, has been employed in the Rail Division for the first time — and the positive results are already starting to show.

Process experts Herb Burchard from B panel and John Magerl from A panel used the technique to identify more than 35 “Kaizen,” or small improvement ideas to help improve the flow of wagons through the workshop.

Eight of the improvement suggestions are being implemented and 12 have received management’s support and will be reviewed again next month.

John, who presented the suggestions to management recently, said the exercise was about working “smarter” instead of “harder” with the equipment already available.

“All of the ideas have come from the teams which means the guys actually doing the tasks have been asked how to make the workshop run better,” he said.

“While some of the ideas require significant capital and planning, others simply require a change management.”

Some of the ideas already put in place include fitting video cameras to the Unimog (trackmobile) for better vision of wheels and improved communication with shunters, the transfer of tasks along the line to help improve workshop flow, and locking a separate set of points so staff do not have to work off the derailers.

In addition, all staff are being trained in the standardised work process and its theory.

Business Improvement Specialist Tina Busellato said workshop teams have embraced the standardised work process and have been positive in trying to improve wagon numbers through the shops.

“There is so much knowledge in the teams and history on why we do things the way we do them,” she said.

“Without the assistance of all the wagon crew and supervisors, this process would be very difficult to deploy. This success is theirs.”

This article was first published in Coastal News [September 2007, Issue No. 3] – Rio Tinto’s Coastal Division Newsletter.

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