Volume 6 Issue 4 May 2005
Slaying the Ones in your IG Department
by Mike Burk
The book, Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers, deals with developing change-ready people and organizations. The authors describe the sacred cow of business as “An outmoded belief, assumption, practice, policy, system, or strategy, generally invisible that inhibits change and prevents responsiveness to new opportunities.”
“They’re out there. Herds of sacred cows grazing on your profits and choking off your productivity.” Most likely there are a few grazing in your IG department.
Confessions of a Sacred Cow
Before I go any further, I must admit my guilt. Not only have I acted as a sacred cow in the IG department, I have promoted sacred cow practices believing that they were in the interest of building the best IG unit. Under the guise of quality, I was reluctant to change ideas and processes that had proven successful over the years.
One of the biggest changes I resisted involved the stacking and assembly of the IG unit. I have always been adamant that the top lite needed to be flipped or turned. It was commonly believed that the glass surface that had contact with the glass washer conveyor would be dirty or marked. The top lite needed to be flipped so that these marks could be cleaned after the unit was assembled. A manufacturer of triple units took issue with my logic since the middle or internal lite had to be cleaned on both sides. His argument was that a glass washer that is maintained properly would supply glass that was clean on both surfaces. He was right. The majority of manufacturers that I have visited recently have stopped manually turning the top lite. Under the correct conditions, this can be a significant improvement to the IG manufacturing process.
The most important condition necessary to achieve this is that the lites exiting the washer are clean and dry on both surfaces. To achieve this required level of cleanliness the glass washer must be set up and maintained for optimal performance.
This level can only be reached through active preventive maintenance and maintenance technician training.
The significant improvements may include increased levels of production, improved quality, reduced repetitive motion injuries and fewer accidents. The process of flipping large lites manually slows the production line as the operators handle the lites. The maneuvering by the operators can also result in breakage, edge damage and fingerprint contamination. After the lite has been turned the operators often rush the stacking process in order to keep up with glass washer output or normal production demands. This reduces the amount of time required for proper alignment and unit inspection.
There are a number of changes that may be required to make these improvements. The impact of these changes should be reviewed before implementing them.
If the units include glass with low-E coatings, the glass should be processed through the washer with the low-E surface facing up. If the top lite is not flipped, the low-E lite must be processed first. In some cases this may effect the order entry system or the cutting/edge deletion operating system. The sorting method must be reviewed to ensure that the washer loader loads the low-E lite first.
The operator’s habit of dragging the lites across the conveyor drive wheels should also be reviewed. If the bottom surface of the lite exiting the washer is to be sealed inside the unit, extra care is needed to prevent marking from the conveyor wheels. In many instances these marks are caused by operators dragging or pulling the lites toward the stacking table. It is important to allow the conveyor system to deliver the lite to the stackers.
Are you a sacred cow or are you ready to address what may be an “outmoded practice” in your IG department? Look for other “sacred cows grazing on your profits and choking off your productivity.”
Mike Burk serves as training manager for GED Integrated Solutions in Twinsburg, Ohio.
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