Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Are You Messy?

Keeping things in order comes naturally to many people. For the rest of us, this is baffling. I'm naturally an extremely messy person. Here is my desk at the end of a long week of work:

But here is part of our production floor, taken at the same time. Note the production area is organized, but my desk area in the background is....not.

How do you keep your studio clean when you personally are fighting towards entropy? One way most of the studio stays clean is that I have a limited amount of space I allow myself to work. The Red Tag area, (aka my Zone of Disarray) is the formal spot that items go when they aren't needed in their particular space. My own desk is not quite so straightforward to organize since my normal rule of "will you use this item in the next month?" means I would answer YES to everything that's sitting on my desk. Keeping all these items in some kind of order is a challenge for a naturally messy person. That's one reason 5S and other Lean Manufacturing tools are all about continuous improvement, not immediate perfection.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

What's your inventory style? JIT vs Doomsday Prepper

Lean Manufacturing consultants talk about "Just in Time" inventory but never define what that is. If you push for a definition they will say "all inventory is bad". I like to call this Abstinence-Only inventory education.

Doomsday Preppers have enough items on hand so they can start a new life without any input from others. This might mean food stores, or equipment to rebuild a whole society.

Which of these suits you more closely? The best answer is probably somewhere in the middle.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Short Runs and Low Inventory

Sometimes you'll notice breweries using plastic can wraps, or stickers/labels around an aluminum can. This seems silly at first - there doesn't seem to be any reasonable explanation; a can plus a sticker is surely massively more expensive than just a can.

Using a stock item (a plain can) plus a short-run custom item (stickers or shrink wrap) is a quick way to get product out and see whether investing in fully custom packaging makes sense. Custom packaging is a way to tie up tons of cash and is risky if you aren't sure a product will sell. Keep an eye out for this type of packaging: it's a pretty reliable way to tell which brands and products are new to the market.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

What haven't you cleaned in a year?

When your 5S walk gets stale, this is a fun challenge: what's something in your studio you haven't cleaned in the past entire year? Clean it today.

Today, mine was the wheels of our pallet jack.