Self Directed Teams in a mixed manufacturing Environment : LUSENET : work teams : One Thread

I currently work in a mixed manufacturing environment where we sub-assemble various replacement parts for our companies main line of product. Current job functions in the department include picker(4)-responsible for retrieving raw parts according to work order specification data entry person(1)- responsible for maintaining database information on parts retrieved and built lead(1) supervisor(1) subassembler(8) responsible for assembling various items from heavy boards to small literature packs We are trying to implement self directed teams in order to improve on productivity. Current attempt combines 2 pickers with a group of four assemblers rotating between heavy assemblies and light assemblies every four hours.

Any suggestions? Please contact me for/with any information.

-- Marie Albrecht (, June 28, 2002


Dear Marie:

My company-a printing manufacturing plant in central Texas-has had great success with Self-Directed Work Teams, and I may be able to provide a few suggestions, however I do have to ask- You identified the members on the SDWT and one of those being a supervisor.

I have done tons of reasearch and read of many examples, and have never heard of a SDWT that had a supervisor on the team. I am unclear how the team can be self directed (or self managed) with a supervisor on the team.

Once I see how this works in your case, maybe I can provide an idea or two.



-- Shirley Stovall (, July 31, 2002.

Generally you want to look at a group that can be responsible for an entire process, function, product line, or assembly. Identifying teams by function or job description does not always accomplish the benefit that teams can offer an organization. The key is to understand that workers on teams can no longer be defined by their narrow job description (order picker, assembler, etc.). They must be defined by the product and be responsible for the whole process. You also have to keep in mind that, many traditional management practices set up the manufacturing structure in a line function that can be prohibitive to teaming success. However, sometimes the line function is set up by what I call "the natural work group" this can work with teams as long as it doesn't prohibit member responsibility being spread to the entire operation or process. The rotation plan you spoke of can aid the team process, and I am assuming cross training will be involved. I am also assuming that the order pickers are picking the material that is being assembled. There needs to be some kind of product relationship. The greatest benefit you can get from teams is, their knowledge of what they see that could be done better, their ability to communicate and fix quality problems, and their innovation act as a think tank and offer new ideas. Good Luck! Mark

-- Mark Vilbert (, August 19, 2002.

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