About three years ago, CMP realized that it had the development muscle and the information technology architecture to begin working on software that would allow it to share work instructions with its shop floor via computers. Since then the virtual work instructions have moved beyond simply replicating word directions to now including pictures and video. The job details, called up when an employee scans a bar code, are delivered over the Internet.
To prove the concept, CMP implemented it in its hardware insertion department at its Chateauguay fabricating facility. As any metal fabricating company can attest, hardware insertion is a necessary, but sometimes troubling, activity. In CMP’s case, the difficulty was having the correct inserts placed in the correct holes. Some of the more complex hardware insertion jobs had as many as 20 different holes with a slightly different piece of hardware being inserted into each individual hole. Even complete drawings were difficult to understand with so much insertion activity taking place.
The first step in the quality improvement exercise was building visual instructions for the most challenging hardware insertion jobs. CMP personnel snapped photos of the correct sequence of insertion actions and then included them on the internally developed knowledge-sharing architecture it had developed. The development team also connected the software to the hardware insertion equipment, which meant the machine operator couldn’t progress until the right insert was placed in the right hole.