Monday morning is an early one. I take a cab to Logan and make my way to security. There is always at least one other Stroudie already in line and this morning it's Taylor. We catch up on the weekend and then part ways on the other side. She is going to LA and I'm on the 6AM flight to San Francisco with three other Stroudies who are already sitting at the gate and chatting over breakfast.
I sleep through the first three hours of the flight and spend the second half fleshing out my plan for the week. On the drive to site I go over my plan with my line manager and he gives me some helpful feedback.
We arrive at the nut factory where I have been working on a team to increase the efficiencies of electronic sorting machines. I text my team lead and see if he is available to meet-I'm anxious to hear how the machines have been performing since our team changed the settings on Thursday. He isn't available until 2, so I take advantage of the time to walk the line, collect the quality data, and refresh the team room with updated results graphs.
My team's lead says the team has been hard at work running trials and found a new way of setting the machine to make sure that it is rejecting the type of gum that they found on the sorting belts last week! I am pleased to hear that the team is taking the initiative and using the problem solving tools that we have been working on.
Our team meeting goes well and it sounds like we are going to have a productive week ahead of us. After we wrap up for the day my line manager and I talk about where we should get dinner (even though it's Monday, so we both know that we'll end up at our regular sushi place).
We receive a warm greeting at the hotel-the staff knows us both well by now-and head off to bed.
Waking up Tuesday morning is a lot easier than Monday-technically, I head down to breakfast in the hotel around 6:30, but it feels a lot like 9:30. This morning is very exciting because my line manager is prepping for an important meeting with the Director of Operations. He has been working on refreshing the plant's ZBA and found some great new opportunities to go after in the manufacturing division! He asks me to look through the presentation and see what I think. It looks really great, except one of the slides is a bit unclear. I offer some constructive feedback and feel a bit excited about my contribution to this important meeting.
When I get to site, I make my way to "my line" to conduct my daily refresh on its status. It looks like the new front line accountability tools that the team started using yesterday are getting a really great response from the operators. Now they don't have to thumb through all of the auditors' testing sheets to know if the nuts are meeting the specifications for quality-they just look for the red or green indicators at the ends of the belts in order to efficiently absorb the information and adjust the machines accordingly.
By noon, I know that my line manager should be back from the meeting and I am excited to hear how it went. His face says it all-Stroud will be working here a bit longer to realize a ton of opportunity! And even more great news, I will start working with a new team on a packaging line next week!
Tonight is a celebratory dinner kind of night.
Given yesterday's news, my line manager and I commit some time to talk about the next steps for the packaging line. I will plan to conduct the initial analysis on the line and figure out the top opportunity that the team will work on next week when it gets kicked off. My first line study! I have done some waste analysis on my first project and have been working on labor efficiency with a current team, but this is actually the first time I will actually use strategies for increasing output, which is incredibly exciting! I review some notes I have on the bits of information I should collect, grab a stopwatch and head to the packaging line.
Turns out that speed is the greatest opportunity! This is going to be a tricky problem to solve-this line has been pushed to go pretty fast already, but I'm sure we can go further. I look forward to the day when we will be running it at 100 bags per minute - a 12% increase above what we're doing now.
Thursdays are usually the most eventful days on site. This afternoon we have our weekly report out to the team sponsors. I meet with the team lead to go over the report. When we are both content with the story for this week and the outline of next week's goals, we part ways and I go check on how the line is doing. Yesterday we were having some problems with foreign material winding up at the belts, so I wanted to do some quick testing to understand if the sorting machine just needs some tweaking.
I track the problem up to one laser sorter in particular. Looks like the trip that normally kicks out that particular type of foreign material had been modified. This reminds me to talk with the team lead about sustainability measures to ensure that the new settings the team found are used effectively in the future.
The report out went well! The sponsors had some challenging questions, and the team lead took them on quite well.
On Thursday nights our team always enjoys dinner in Napa before we catch our flight. We always go to the same amazing wine bar style restaurant-everyone who works there knows us. It is something I look forward to every week and the meal never disappoints. It is a nice way to round up the week on site. We tuck in, hit the road, and catch the late night flight back to Boston.
On the way into the office I practice delivering my presentation for the office and my line manager offers me some good tips about delivering the key points more strongly. I'm feeling pretty prepared and grateful that I have some time this morning to run it through a few more times.
I love seeing all of the Stroudies that I don't normally get to work with in the office. We all hunker down and check things off our to-do lists while also chatting casually and catching up on weekend plans. I also have a couple of meetings throughout the morning regarding internal office work. Then comes lunch time! It is an "all office" Friday today so everyone is in the office and we enjoy a meal from a local sandwich place before presentations get kicked off.
It all goes very well-and by that I mean my chicken salad wrap as well as my presentation. People were excited to hear about my team's results and a few Stroudies even had a couple of great suggestions on how to work through some tough situations on site.
All in all, it has been a great week. I hitch a ride home with another Stroudie who lives in my building and a couple more of us plan to meet up in Boston for dinner later. Looking forward to a fun and relaxing weekend.