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Office/Desks Located on the Plant Floor

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This topic contains 18 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Marlon Brando 12 years, 8 months ago.

Viewing 19 posts - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)
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  • #44880

    Jered Horn
    Participant

    Was just wondering if anyone has experience with this advancement in ideas coming from the ivory tower…
    What are (or can be) the effects of moving office locations of all engineering support personnel from the typical cubical office environment out to the plant floor (presumably closer to the equipment/operations/processes they are providing support for)?
    I have some STRONG opinions of this myself, but I will refrain from sharing them at the moment…more interested in hearing opinions and experiences from others.

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    #144689

    Ovidiu Contras
    Participant

    HornJM,
    When we did this, the ivory tower moved closer to the shop floor, too.
    In short term you’ll get frustrated office people, but in the long term you’ll have office people more aware of what happens on the shop floor.
    The biggest problem we had was the noise – quite annoying when you talk on the phone – but we look at it as an opportunity for noise reduction (usually noise being always last on the improvements to do list).
    Hope this helps

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    #144700

    Robert Butler
    Participant

    One of the best situations I ever had in this regard was a place on the floor called “the ranch”.  It was the offices for engineering and statistical support.  It was a building within a building. It allowed immediate access to the floor and it also provided enough of a sound barrier between floor and office so that those office functions needing a lower level of noise were not made more difficult. 
      I liked it because the guys/gals on the floor could bring a problem to me directly and just as soon as I had an answer I could go out on the floor and discuss it with them. 
      Some people don’t like this kind of immediate interaction and there are always those who think people will abuse the quick access. For the vast majority of my co-workers this has not been the case.  True there is always someone who will be a non-productive pest but most people go to work with the intention of doing the best they can and those intentions usually include an ability to limit “interruptions” to things that really matter.
      I’ve never liked being too far from the action and on more than one occasion I turned down a very nice but distant office for something less comfortable but closer to the work.

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    #144711

    Jered Horn
    Participant

    I agree with all that’s been said.
    The gesture of moving the “ivory tower” closer to the shop floor as well would send a powerful message.  I like this because…who really are the people in the office that generally have NO IDEA of what’s happening on the shop floor?
    A “ranch” or bullpen located out where the action is is fantastic.  I like what Robert B. said about interaction and unnecessary interruptions probably being the exception rather than the rule.  A key here, though, would be the “construction” of the space.  Sound barriers, a raised floor, …something to define the space.  Without that…it’s like Milton down in the basement with all the boxes and NO Swingline stapler!

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    #144715

    OLD
    Participant

    HornJM:
     
    Interesting topic and some great feedback from RB and OC! The times are definitely changing and there are some interesting dynamics taking place today in the plant/office.
     
    I wonder if some of the younger, Gen X and Gen Y employees in the workforce share your thoughts? There has been some interesting research pertaining to Gen X’ers and Gen Y’ers as to what makes them tick. Combine that research with the Boomers, and the Silent Majority and I think you’ll find some interesting reading.
     
    Here is a somewhat dated link to some background information on the evolving office:
     
    http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/nov00/wallace.htm
     
    If you go with a bullpen style of office, companies like Herman Miller and Steelcase have done some interesting studies as to what does/does not work. Yes, they are probably biased to support their business but I think the background information may be of some help.
     Good Luck! OLD

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    #144722

    Bleotu
    Participant

    Hi all,
    I have experienced both situation with same engineers (from shop floor to the ivory tower) and there is a huge difference as support for production (better ofcourse first time). Team work was realy happening.
    I am convinced that the best solution process engineers on the shop floor and only the dedicated engineers for the new projects to have the chairs in the office.
     
     
     

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    #144729

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    HornJM,
    The factory described In Mario Perez-Wilson’s book Six Sigma was an actual Motorola factory and my dest was in the middle of the production floor (no walls or sound supression). Actually the Production Supervisors sat next to the rework area so they had no excuse for not realizing how much material was tied up in rework.
    The noise was never an issue (it was a bomb fuse so it was electronics which isn’t particularly noisy). Once we had line balance it was actually beneficial. You knew something was wrong by the sound long before anyone turned on a red light.
    The Motorola Automotive plant in Elma, New York has bull pens with walls (with windows) and no ceilings. No issue there either.
    Borg Warner was a stamping house. Much different story. The bull pens there had walls and ceilings and big windows.
    How effective is probably more of an issue of the noise level and what you do to control it. There seems to be this spike of activity when you first move to the floor but that passes. personally I like it.
    Just my opinion.
    Regards
    PS someone told me you were from Allied Automotive is that correct?

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    #144770

    Jered Horn
    Participant

    Thanks for the book reference, Mike. I’ll check it out.Nope…not from Allied Automotive. GenCorp, should provide a clue for you.

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    #144778

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Not cous’ from Aerojet?

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    #144786

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    Horn,
    Do we know each other?  My handle ought to tell you if you know me.  Ex GenCorp here although only had pleasure of being to Azusa and Sacramento once each.
    Is this Janine?…..

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    #144862

    Jered Horn
    Participant

    Here are some more clues…
    Automotive, Wabash, Six Sigma Consultants, Inc., Wave 2, Brue, Cone, Lambert, Effective Use of Power.

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    #144863

    Jered Horn
    Participant

    Your handle’s not ringing a bell (no pun intended).
    Miller?…she was in my wave.

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    #144870

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    HornJM,
    I am in South Africa so I cannot cheat and use my files. The only project that sticks out from Vehicle Sealing was the plant in Arkansas where we made a lot of scrap in a bout 2 minutes running a DOE and found out the cutter couldn’t keep up.
    Regards

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    #144946

    Sparhawk
    Member

    As a 28 year old (I guess that makes me a GenX?), I very much like working close to the action. I recently had to move desks from the production office to the “front” office. I’ve lost the ability to easily monitor what is happing in the production area just by looking at the engineers or out the window to the production floor. The operators have also noticed that I don’t visit them as much (although I still try to go out a couple of times a day).
    As a Quality Assurance Engineer, I also feel that a lot of import information that I would catch just by “eaves dropping” is being missed, and I now have to work harder to usderstand what is really happening on the plant floor.

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    #145010

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    That makes you Wave I?

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    #145049

    Jered Horn
    Participant

    I was in wave 2.  I believe wave 1 Blackbelt candidates at GenCorp were mostly managers.  For certification, they were required to complete 1 project and setup plant-level metrics.  From wave 2 on, 2 completed projects were required for certification.

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    #145222

    NCMBB JD
    Participant

    I cam from a company several years ago from the Southwaest in which at in the early 90’s the President of company of about 1500 employees moved his office to the middle of the production/assembly floor with an adjacent glass soudproof conference room.  The product design engineering group was moved also to the floor along the outside perimeter.  The president’ philosphy was the core of the business was “assembly and shipping the assembly out the door”.
    He also had an open-door poilcy with the shop personnel.  He felt the company’s goal was to build and ship quality product – anything that stood in that way was a process in need of improvement.  His philosophy was that the most qualified personnel to judge quality were the assembly personnel and the customer.  Everybody else worked for these people.
    Design Engineering hated the new location.  Program management, and other support operations were still in the ivory tower.  But when customers came in – they met with the president “on the floor.”
    My opinion is that some people will resist this concept, and some may think it’s better.  In reality I believe it imporves the communications between design engineers and the shop floor; and improves the “hands-on” producibility knowledge of design engineers.
    The company has changed presidents now, due to the previous president moving to a higher position.  The new president is back in the ivory tower and so is Engineering.  The engineers I keep in touch with say there is more disconnect between the shop floor and engineering, and therefore more producibility problems.
    I don’t think there is any one answer, it may depend more on the culture and nature of problems that need to be addressed.
    The company I work for now, just completed moving their Engineering department from another state to within 20 miles of the production facility.  Productive communications have increased significantly between engineering and production.  Meeting face-to-face on a regualr basis is much better than only being to talk over the phone.
    NCMBB-JD

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    #145343

    Jonathon Andell
    Participant

    Other than some noise issues, it seldom hurts to have people closer to the work they impact. However, being physically close means less if the departments operate like silos. All things considered, I’d rather have top management break down the relationship walls first. Once departments start acting like a team, co-locating has much more impact.

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    #145355

    Marlon Brando
    Participant

    Agree :It is  becoming  like  :One  Piece  Flow

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