The reduction or total elimination of budgets for ergonomic improvements have resulted in more creativity than I have seen in a long time.
Not having unlimited resources forces organizations to rely more heavily on more cost-effective in-house solutions, as opposed to off-the-shelf solutions. Recently I was involved in a Kaizen/RAPID Team Event that focused on the implementation of high impact fixes over a short period of time (4 days). After some time on the floor analyzing jobs and brainstorming solutions, the team created a list of items to pick up at the local hardware store. However, by the time the group got back with the purchases, two fixes were already completed using in-house resources!
Here’s an example – we were planning to purchase a small car jack to hold an actuator on a valve during removal. This way, the operator didn’t have to support the 12kg load with one hand. Instead of spending $150 on the jack, one team member collected some scrap parts (base, threaded pipe, and nut) and created an adjustable holder out of material that would have been tossed out anyway. It was a very successful improvement and all the operators in the area were very impressed. That is exactly the kind of thing that can make people realize that small, in-house solutions can really make an impact.
(Thanks to Christy Lotz for this contribution)