A customer operating a locomotive wheel lathe came to Your Engineer with an initial request for some custom designed swarf shields to prevent hot swarf contacting operators. The advantage of engaging Your Engineer is perspective – we have the advantage of looking at the problem with fresh eyes that are honed to see opportunity. Following our proven solution process our first step was to spend time working closely with the operator and understand the process from his perspective. It became evident in this review that there was much more to this problem – and an opportunity to increase profitability WITH increased safety. The problems were multifaceted however and interrelated.
A locomotive positioned on the wheel lathe to begin a wheel profile machining process.
And, as common with engineering, the problems were not just technical. Your Engineers solution path engaged the client’s workforce as part of the solution team to explore the operation of the lathe step by step and capture barriers and opportunities in terms of their source – safety, social, economic, quality and equipment.
The investment of time and effort in understanding the barriers and opportunities in detail paid dividends. Again, the client’s staff were crucially involved in both challenging their own operation and providing new solutions holistically. The graphical representation of the process, problems, opportunities and solutions was critical in inspiring solutions that spanned the entire process. Your Engineer made sense of what seemed like unrelated chaos and present it graphically with clear advice on what options the client had available, and gave them the confidence to make informed decisions.
The greatest outcome from the review was proof that the common misconception that improving safety costs productivity is flawed. The final process map identified significant process streamlining resulting in a faster turnaround time of locomotives.