Magnatag Whiteboards Blog

Understanding How Transparency and Communication Are Improving The Healthcare Experience

About a month ago, I found myself alone in the ER on a Saturday night after an unfortunate encounter between my middle finger and a potato peeler. In reality, my injury was minor in comparison to what you would expect from a typical Saturday in the ER—or so every major medical drama on TV would lead you to believe. I expected some form of orderly chaos, an environment that seemed controlled yet ready to burst with commotion any second. Much to my surprise, the unit felt nothing like that. The emergency room was quite, both the nurses and doctors that attended to my injuries were prepared, etc. Outsiders to the healthcare industry (like myself) are under the impression that there’s supposed to be gunshot wounds and burn victims, turmoil at every corner as nurses and doctors sprint down the hallways—it’s not supposed to be just some 24-year-old guy who doesn’t know how to properly peel a potato! There seemed to be an order to everything, nearly the exact opposite of what you’d see on Greys Anatomy, Scrubs or E.R. Curious to see if this amount of traffic was normal for a Saturday night, I asked my nurse if the ER was usually this quiet. She informed me that they were actually quite busy, with the night’s census being at an all-time high for the week. It wasn’t that this unit was completely devoid of chaos or trauma, but it was clear that staff members knew how to manage their workload properly.

I’ll be the first to attribute the controlled nature of this unit to the hospital’s strategic planning committee. After all, they’re the people that set together plans and strategies to help facilitate leadership, advocacy and quality thought the hospital. It is also worth noting that over the past couple years, a big talking point for the healthcare industry has been the call for greater transparency, which means a collection of different things for different people. For some, this means assuring the best quality care is being provided through referral services and partners, while others seek greater transparency between payers and providers. Accomplishing this satisfactory level of transparency across the board is only possible with the efforts of an entire organization; it has to be a collective effort. Continue reading Understanding How Transparency and Communication Are Improving The Healthcare Experience

How One Factory is Using Equipment Maintenance to Promote Continuous Improvement

Maintaining a large factory is no easy job—and to put it simply—it’s downright frustrating to keep a team of 100+ employees on-task. But for Sandra Parker, the Process Improvement Manager at Sonoco packaging, increasing productivity and safety in her factory is more than just a menial task—it’s a commitment.

Not too long ago, Sonoco introduced a new brand of culture discipline into their factories: The Sonoco Performance System (SPS). Noted for increasing productivity and safety throughout manufacturing facilities, the system relies upon a high level of executive commitment, accurate metrics, and a drive for organizational learning.

Which is exactly where Ms. Parker’s role at Sonoco comes into play: working as the Process improvement Manger, her goal is to ensure that both employee training and development are exceeding expectations for the continuous improvement cycle.

Continue reading How One Factory is Using Equipment Maintenance to Promote Continuous Improvement

5 Lessons Every Manufacturer Can Learn From Taiichi Ohno

The name Taiichi Ohno is sure to raise a few eyebrows in a room full of engineers; after all, he is the co-creator of the Toyota Production System! Widely recognized as the father of both the Just-In-Time and Seven Wastes principals, Ohno’s teachings have shaped the pathway of modern manufacturing as it stands today. Over the past few decades, Tachii’s basic principals of manufacturing have undergone multiple transformations, influencing areas outside of manufacturing and making a larger impact in western business practices. Ohno unfortunately passed back in 1990, but not without revolutionizing the way organizations isolate wasteful components and draw focus to areas of improvement. In an effort to celebrate Ohno’s upcoming birthday (February 29th), we put together a list of some of our favorite lessons we can all take away from the father of lean manufacturing.

“No one has more trouble than the person who claims to have no trouble

This quote is reminiscent of the famous Toyota expression “No problems is a problem”—something should not be overlooked. The story goes that Ohno interpreted problems at Toyota as an opportunity for improvement as opposed to a moment of weakness. This philosophy later bled into the culture of the Toyota Production System, and more specifically, how management conducted root-cause analysis. When an issue would arise, Ohno would encourage his team to look at the situation without any preconceptions as to what may have gone wrong. By doing so, he hoped his team would search for multiple possibilities for improvement, as opposed to an isolated issue. You cannot move forward if you are unwilling to reflect upon both your successes and failures. There’s no single person that executes his or her job to perfection, and it’s under this belief that everyone can show some room for improvement if under the proper guidance. Continue reading 5 Lessons Every Manufacturer Can Learn From Taiichi Ohno

Q&A With a Visual Systems Specialist: Keeping Production on Track

Proper management of both employees and resources is a key component of running a successful manufacturing facility—and when you’re managing a factory of any size, it’s easy to let the little things slip under the radar. It’s not due to negligence or a lack of motivation, but a lack of proper tools. We caught up with one of Magnatag’s Visible Systems Specialists, Sue, to shed some light on how our systems can work for you.

Do customers ever come to you with a problem, hoping you will be able to direct them towards a solution?

Yes, absolutely! For instance, the minute someone says “I’m looking to target production”, I instantly direct that customer towards our Production Rate Tracker. Of course I’ll ask questions along the way in regards to what they’re looking to track and who they think will be using it the most, but I think we—as an entire sales force—have a good idea of where our products can make the biggest impact.

What makes the Production Rate Tracker different than traditional tracking tools? Continue reading Q&A With a Visual Systems Specialist: Keeping Production on Track

The Ultimate Guide To Lean Manufacturing Terms and Principals

If you’ve ever been in a meeting with a roomful of engineers discussing shop, you know how easy it is to get lost in the discussion. For anyone that’s trying to get a feel for the industry, there’s no easy way to decipher the many terms and principals that surround the manufacturing cycle; it’s as if there should be an entire section of the dictionary devoted solely to the industry. While we can’t offer you that concession—because let’s be honest, we don’t have time for that—we can offer you a place to start. We’ve put together the ultimate glossary, for the leading manufacturing philosophy in the world: Lean manufacturing.

5S: Believed by many to be a staple of the early Japanese Toyota Production System, the 5S process is an organizational method for the shop floor. Most factories commonly use the 5S process as a way to organize their workplace and expose any waste that may be counterintuitive to the continuous improvement process. The method is composed of a five-step process:

  1. Seiri (Organization): Eliminate any unnecessary items or tool that are not in use.
  2. Seiton (Set In Order): Bring order to your factory by assigning a set location for tools and equipment.
  3. Seiso (Shine): Make cleaning your factory a routine process to prevent material deterioration and act as a form of regular inspection.
  4. Seiketsu (Standardize): Establish a culture that reinforces a continuous development process.
  5. Shitsuke (Sustain): Apply standardization to your factory. Perform regular audits, create goals and milestones for workforce, and create a self-sufficient environment.

6S: An iteration of the 5S Process, 6S builds upon the previously established 5S process with the addition of a safety component.

Andon: A visual management system that notifies when issues arise in the production cycle. Traditionally used a system of light indicators, an andon system visually gives management the opportunity to identify abnormal situation in the production cycle. Continue reading The Ultimate Guide To Lean Manufacturing Terms and Principals

WhiteWalls Make Their Way Into The Classroom

A couple weeks back we received a picture of WhiteWalls being put to use in a local high school English classroom. This image is just one of the many we frequently receive from satisfied Magnatag customers on a regular basis. I recently followed up with the member of our sales team that  was responsible for the order in hopes to better understand what prompted the school’s interest in WhiteWalls.

As it turns out, the WhiteWalls purchase was prompted by a faculty member that was looking to maximize wall space in the classroom. If you’ve spent any about of time researching wall-sized whiteboard solutions, you’ve probably noticed that options outside of dry erase paint are extremely limited. As the Director of Buildings brainstormed options for a large-scale writing surface, he quickly encountered a few obstacles involving dry erase paint: Primarily, dry erase paint is more likely to present ghosting issues, leaving questions regarding durability after prolonged periods of use.  The second issue was that many school districts—including the one in question—have restrictions set in place for the types of paint used within their facilities. Given that the Director of Buildings oversees an entire district, this process of approving paint involves clearing the solution for multiple schools in the area. While manageable, this process would only prolong the search for a large-scale dry erase solution.

It’s also worth noting the placement of the WhiteWall panels. In this case the panels were sized to fit above data ports and electric outlets which saved the school money on materials and installation. Another common issue that comes into play when planning a classroom is the amount of vertical clearance available at the ceiling. Specially designed with the dimensions of the room in mind, our manufacturing team was able to create panels that fit within the school district’s pre-existing building codes and actually saved the school more money on materials. According to the OSHA, the minimum vertical clearance between sprinklers and material below shall be 18-inches. The 18-inch vertical clearance requirement is treated as a horizontal plane throughout the storage area or room, meaning that anything—regardless of where it lies in relation to the room’s sprinklers—must be below the 18-inch threshold.  With these restrictions in mind, our team of engineers were able to develop a dry erase surface that was able to meet a variety of government regulations while still maintaining a modern design.

Each WhiteWall panel mounts to an individual wall bracket, allowing panels to slide together to create a continuous workspace. As you can see, WhiteWalls gave this classroom the opportunity to work out an entire literature analysis without compromising any workspace. The panels are large enough to enable ideas to flow freely, allowing both students and teachers to work out concepts side-by-side without the hinderance of a board frame.

As you can see, we’re thrilled to see that our WhiteWall panels are making a difference in the classroom!If you’d like to learn more about our WhiteWall panels, visit our website.

Leaving Behind The Technological Barriers of Project Management

One of the biggest responsibilities Matthew White, Director of Programs at the Zygo Corporation, faces on a daily basis is the overseeing of extreme precision optical components from the early stages of development to the moment they are purchased by a customer.

As anyone with a background in project development knows, projects—especially in their early stages—undergo numerous iterations before reaching the final product. All the while, it’s the responsibility of people like Mr. White, to ensure important steps of the development process do not fall behind.

But the responsibility does not fall on Mr. White’s hands alone; in fact, his team consists of a number of Project Managers, Product Operators and Engineers that are in constant communication as they prepare their product for market.

Ensuring that every member of the team is on task and in the know with the latest project developments has been a priority for Mr. White since he took on the position in early 2016. Prior to assuming the role of Director of Programs, project management was handled primarily through the use of online spreadsheets; an element of the development process that was less efficient than you may assume: Continue reading Leaving Behind The Technological Barriers of Project Management

Schedule With Simplicity: The Magnatag Difference

Here at Magnatag, we frequently receive hundreds of emails looking for a better way to optimize scheduling systems. Take this whiteboard below for example:Makeshift BoardWhile it may be messy at first glance, to members of the Nursing unit at a Washington, DC hospital, this whiteboard provided an innate degree of order to the hospital staff. Created using a plain whiteboard paired with some black industrial tape, the dry erase board was used as a room/patient assignment board that detailed which patients were assigned to specific rooms, as well as the nurses and doctors assigned to their case. We often receive requests from users of industrial tape when it comes to issues maintaining a dry erase surface. Unfortunately, using thick industrial-strength tapes on any whiteboard can often leave behind residue that can be difficult to remove, causing permanent damage to the surface. Adopters of industrial strength tape often come to us looking for a quick fix for this issue, however in most cases, the damage has already been done. Unfortunately, whiteboard cleaning and conditioning solutions are not developed to combat tape residue, which leaves us with our hands tied . It’s a problem that’s not only inconvenient, but downright avoidable—which makes it all the more frustrating.

Continue reading Schedule With Simplicity: The Magnatag Difference

Fixing Project Management For Leaders of VFW Post 1

To many veterans across the US, the VFW deserves to stand as something more than a place to hangout; it should be a place of warmth and community engagement.

The truth is: Hundreds of VFW’s across the globe are experiencing a dwindling membership shortage. Younger veterans are not as incentivized by the simple offerings of liquor and camaraderie as they once were.

It’s a mindset that’s become of key importance to the operators of VFW Post 1. The post—which was created in 1899 and is located in Denver, Colorado—predates the official recognition of the VFW program that began in 1913, making it the oldest VFW post in existence. Home to over 1,000 veterans across the globe, the post has recently re-energized its focus on providing services to veterans in need, in hopes to revitalize the popularity of the VFW program.

Michael Mitchel, a retired Aviation Mechanic for the US Navy, serves as both the Commander and Board of Trustees member of VFW Post 1. Having been with the post as an elected officer since 2002 and stepping in as Executive Director in 2013, Michael—in addition to the nine other VFW leaders associated with Post 1— has overseen the event-centric culture transformation that has made the Colorado-based post one of the largest in the US. Continue reading Fixing Project Management For Leaders of VFW Post 1

4 Insights That Will Transform Manufacturing In 2017

With the holiday season now behind us, it’s time to look ahead at what 2017 has in store for the future of the manufacturing industry. 2016 ended on a high note, bringing with it speculation of good things to come for the year ahead. With that in mind, we created a list of four possible game changers the manufacturing enthusiast should keep an eye on in the New Year.

An Increase In Pricing of Metal Commodities:

The most recent ISM (Institute for Supply Management) manufacturing Report on Business noted that steel—in addition to other metals such as copper, aluminum and brass—has been rising in price since the index first registered scores of above 50 back in 2016. For reference, a score above 50 in the index signifies a period of stabilization for the industry. Given that both the ISM index and the price of metal commodities have shown signs of continuous growth over the past six months, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility to assume there is some degree of correlation in play. Tracking the price of metals and other raw materials can serve as a benchmark for the industry’s performance ahead of the ISM’s regularly scheduled reports. Continue reading 4 Insights That Will Transform Manufacturing In 2017