Lean Life @ WNP

October 22, 2020


There is a group of employees that kick around a soccer ball during the two breaks and one lunch time. First, I had a flashback of grade school and playing at recess. It’s amazing how youthful you feel when playing an organized or disorganized sport in our case. One employee was smoking a butt and kicking the ball far and high. Another employee was wearing a leather jacket and jeans and retrieving the ball constantly while the other guys were laughing and stating he was the go-fer. Then the whole experience felt very European – smoking, kicking a soccer ball, wearing a leather jacket with jeans.

Then, that same day I was leaving work and noticed one employee with his trunk open and another employee crouched down near his tire. I stopped my car and asked if they needed help. These two employees were the ones from the soccer break.  They said they needed a better tire jack. I got my Volvo tire jack out struggling with all my excess stuff in my trunk and noticed standard work on the inside of the compartment. It was lacking a visual parts list.

I finally fumbled with the two-piece crank that kept coming apart with each twist. My jack was sturdier than the Chevy Malibu jack, but we had to use a screwdriver to turn the crank. I got the car raised enough for removing the tire. The lug nuts were removed by one employee telling another to take them off in the order of a star pattern – standard work. The tire wouldn’t budge. The tire was kicked constantly and still wouldn’t budge. There was a decorative center with a chevy logo on the rim, and we tried removing that until a passerby with a knife pried it off. There wasn’t another lug under that – the tire was stuck. An employee called her husband and he said to get a rubber mallet and hit the top and bottom of the tire. The passerby with the knife kicked the tire some more on the top and bottom and got the tire off. We finally got the donut on the Malibu. I’m glad we weren’t timing this process because it took longer than it should have. We were definitely in store for a 50% setup reduction here.

Some life lessons about this incident were to know your car and what it has for tire changing and other emergencies. I will now put my home power jack in the car and a rubber mallet. I already have a first aid kit, tire compressor, electric battery charger, and jumper cables. My truck and the employee with the flat tire both need to 6S our trunks. We had to sort and fumble with trying to find the jack parts. Time was wasted looking for all that stuff and then we had to figure out how it worked. I’m sure if we had better standard work, we could have used the jack the way it was intended, but instead we used a screwdriver to hoist the car up with the jack. Storing a small supply of screw drivers, vise grip, US/Metric socket wrenches, and a pocketknife wouldn’t hurt either. We needed six people to change a tire. You really only need one person for this process, but hey, it was teamwork and that is a positive thing and our work culture is a helpful bunch. If anyone wants to kick around a soccer ball, change a tire, or discuss lean thinking, come visit Willington Nameplate.