The Andon is Alive and Well

The Andon is Alive and Well

Jerry Rosenthal started on his process improvement journey where he entered the world of medical device and worked with such companies like Cardinal Health. Jerry’s expertise is primarily in regulated environments such as food, beverage and pharmaceutical production and packaging. Jerry has been successful at taking principles and tools from manufacturing and applying them to a commercial business practice, and he does that at Rosenthal & Associates Consulting.  Jerry Rosenthal

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Note: This is a transcription of an interview. It has not gone through a professional editing process and may contain grammatical errors or incorrect formatting.

An excerpt from the interview: 

Joe: When I think about using Lean tools, one of the things I of course think about is visibility but even more especially in food compliance, I think at the point of work is the person needs to be entering the data. Are people driving towards that in food processing?

Jerry: Absolutely.  Certainly the days of entering things after the end of the shift is long gone. That’s something that is a huge no-no in pharmaceutical, medical device manufacturing. You enter data at the time of the occurrence. It’s always done in real time. I have seen in the food industry, where it’s been a little bit lax.  “Great, we made a batch of some product. Yup, we put in X number of pounds of this, X number of gallons of that. We heated it up. We did X to it for an hour and what, I’ll write it all down at the end of the shift.” That really is not acceptable, for companies are doing much, much better about getting away from that. Exactly, entering things in real time and being able to have, if you’ve got for example, a 5-step process, how do you have visibility on all the other steps, so that when you get to the next step and there’s a problem, you identify it much quicker, then all of a sudden you’ve got a product that’s been completed. It’s on a truck. It’s out the door. But then, you look at your documentation and say, “Oh, what, we missed something. We missed a step. We need to bring it back. We need to quarantine that product. We need to do an inspection. Obviously it’s costly, its delay, and it’s all those things in your various sources of ways, those people that are familiar with TIMWOOD, the traditional acronym for your different sources of ways. It can be catastrophic.  yeah, to your point,  getting things in real time and having complete visibility and transparency is really the way companies need to be and there’s been a tremendous shift in having that available, in many, many of the big producers across the country.

Joe:  The Andon cord is alive and well?

Jerry: Absolutely. It’s nice to do that. More and more companies are doing it, how do we make it visible?  If something is running, if it’s not running, red and green, “Hey, I need some help.” Let’s get some help and deal with the issue right now because it’s good for everybody. When you manufacture something and something goes wrong, you let it continue all the way down the production line and it’s bad, it’s poor quality or it’s inferior quality product, not only have you lost that product but you’ve lost the opportunity to make good product. If you’ve got a 1-hour, 2-hour, 3-hour process, that’s a lot of money you’re throwing out the door. Andon or whatever other tool or feature you want to put in, they really are great tools if used appropriately and the motto I like to use, “It’s the right tool for the right opportunity.” If you want to, bust somebody’s windshield, for an extreme example, you don’t use a screwdriver, you use a hammer. It’s having the right tool for the right job at the right time and if you can blend, not jamming Lean or Six Sigma tools down somebody’s throat just because you’re a master black belt and how to do it. It really is finding the right opportunity to say, “This is the right tool that’s going to help us get to a solution very quickly, very effectively to get a higher quality product out the door being profitable. Great comment.

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