21 improvements you can make for 2021 - The EE

21 improvements you can make for 2021

2021 is a challenge for many people due to 2020’s attempt to turn us upside down. How do we improve our processes in 2021? Get back to fundamentals, leverage new technology, and develop your skills in new environments…says, Joseph Zulick of MRO Electric and Supply.

Here’s how:

  • Start measuring. Make sure that you start keeping a journal. I don’t care if you are trying to lose weight or reduce wasting time. It might be time in your plant or it might be time in your home. Start by creating a baseline for your numbers. The great part of this can be the opportunity that it creates. It’s the excitement of standing at the starting line or the foot of the summit.
  • Trust but Verify. As the old saying goes. This is the foundation of quality control. It’s why we use fixtures and test gauges to make sure that the parts are within tolerance. Don’t assume a tool or cutter that made a good part before, will still make a good part today. Just because we have good people doesn’t mean they can’t make mistakes.
  • Invest in technology. When you have the option to use a drone to inspect a confined space or on top of a machine, always choose this technology to reduce risk exposure. New technologies are flourishing and expanding daily. Exchange your risk for new technology.
  • Training is imperative for success. The last several years have been a nightmare for the HR department. The turnover rates have been horrific which means you need to retrain. Anything with “RE” as the prefix is going to be a cost for you. Rework, retrain, recalibrate, etc. all mean you will have to do something again.
  • Automate wherever possible. We have talked for too long about a paperless society and finding ways to electronically report and develop closed loops, make this part of your standard operating procedure.
  • Communicate the vision. If you have a vision, and I’m sure you do, make sure that your other team members know and understand this vision. This can include your metrics and a vision board or display. Verbal communication is great but it can take a while to disseminate the message.
  • Be safe- do all the things you know you should be doing. This means you should be proactive in your protection. Around your shop and throughout your home, don’t take shortcuts like standing on your chair to change a lightbulb. Turn the power off when working with circuits. Lock-out Tag-out, to save lives.
  • Time, tick tock, tick tock, no time to dilly dally! Make hay while the sun shines. Take advantage of the time you have. Don’t wait until the last minute. The road is paved with good intentions. All of these phrases and strategies boil down to the same thing, make the best use of your time.
  • Network, and I mean this in every way possible. Network to expand the people you can access for information and solutions. Network your computers so you have instantaneous access to information; This includes IoT. Network within your company and externally.
  • “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford. Confidence in your abilities will set the bar height for your success. If you don’t think you can fix that machine, you will find every excuse to not do it.
  • Leverage new things. Look at new ideas and understand the improvements that can be gained from new technology. If you are a proponent of continuous improvement you should not just look at improving your current ideas. As Henry Ford says, “ if I asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses.” This continues into the concept of not knowing what you don’t know. If someone is using a ball-peen hammer to contour a fabricated part and they become efficient at using that technology, they may be reluctant at using a drop hammer regardless of the time advantages and ease of work.
  • Embrace gamification. The use of gamification can extend into all parts of a business and home life. Parents may have their children execute chores for certain prizes or rewards. Maybe they use a whiteboard to show who is in the lead of tasks for the month. In business boards and stack lights are used to indicate if you’re on time, on pace, or falling off. This indication can be enough to produce progress and motivation. People want to be acknowledged.
  • Embrace social media. It can be tough to hear you should be on social media more but it can work if you think in terms of expanding your messaging. This doesn’t mean that you have to jump on every single option or platform but pick one or two that help you connect in a virtual format. Think about a large corporation, many have a corporate newsletter and most have a presence on social media to get out when they have a new model or a new flavour.
  • Be consistent. Whether you are a continuous improvement advocate or not, consistency helps you achieve your goals and allows a level of predictability. Look at your
  • Close the loop. Use a checks and balances system, or, perhaps a stage- gate system. The system should confirm that a process is complete, it can be as simple as a checklist where the checkmark confirms that the task has been completed. It would be preferred if it has an automatic method for this confirmation. Maybe you have a built-in shopping list on your echo or google device that helps with the shopping list.
  • Recognition. Maybe you tell your wife how beautiful she looks, perhaps you give someone a gift card for a job well done, or maybe you give someone their 10th anniversary day off to celebrate. Recognising hard work, accomplishments, and achievements can be extremely valuable.
  • Learn a new skill. This doesn’t need to occupy your life like brain surgery. It might be as simple as applying a new tool in your toolbox. Think about all of the things you’ve learned but didn’t apply. Maybe you just pick one item on this list or a couple of items. Practice them and turn them into a habit by utilising them for a few weeks.
  • Say No! Many of us repeat the phrase, “I’m too busy,” maybe, you even say it daily. If you don’t have the time to add something important to your life, you’re probably busy with the wrong things. Maybe you say yes too much and get volunteered to be a key person too often. Free up some time so you can do the important things in life.
  • Take time to think. With many people working from home their travel time used to be used to think or to formulate plans. Without that commute time, you may feel a bit unprepared because you go from call to call. You don’t network the same way, you don’t have those accidental or chance meetings that soaked new ideas. Everything requires planning now. Find that time to think, to network, to meditate.
Joseph Zulick
  • Set your expectations appropriately. Most times the attitude toward a project is built upon expectations. If the bar is too high, a sense of failure may be the result. If it’s too low, people will be glad they achieved it but will never extend themselves. It must balance like the phrase “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” If you’re not careful, you could have a lot more drowning victims.
  • Set the tone. No matter what your role is in a company, you will influence others. This can be positive or negative so consider your actions. Make a difference and be impactful. You might not even be aware of how much you can sway a company but you should know it’s more than you ever commented.

Take these 21 for 21 and change the world!

The author is Joseph Zulick is a manager at MRO Electric and Supply.

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