What’s Your “Frisbee on the Roof” Problem?
When someone accidentally flings a Frisbee onto the roof, it tends to stay there for a while, decidedly out of easy reach. You might not have the time or equipment (e.g., a ladder) necessary to retrieve it right away, and it’s a lot of work to do for a Frisbee. Most people simply don’t bother, and that Frisbee is as good as gone — except it isn’t.
Which makes the Frisbee on the roof a perfect metaphor for any number of nuisance problems manufacturers frequently ignore around the factory.
Persistent factory problems
It’s an old joke among service technicians, but there is truth in the idea that if you can’t find a problem with your factory equipment, you aren’t looking hard enough. It’s the nature of machinery to need constant attention. Continuous operation puts stress and strain on machinery, and no matter how careful you are, you can’t control every variable. Problems will inevitably arise.
It can be difficult to stay on top of every challenge, which is where priorities and preventive maintenance make all the difference. Just because you can’t immediately address a problem doesn’t mean you can afford to let it fester.
Don’t let persistent vibration or abnormal operating temperature turn into a Frisbee on your company’s roof.
Small problems get bigger
Why should you care about a Frisbee on the roof? A roofer will tell you that a Frisbee does damage every day it remains up there. The wind will cause it to strip away shingle granules, and rain might pool on top of it and cause a leak. Slowly but surely, it will become a bigger problem. Ignoring factory problems has a similar effect.
Letting soft foot vibrate your equipment could cause protracted downtime. High operating temps burn out AC motors, which causes more downtime on top of the cost of replacement. Don’t ignore warning signs any longer than it takes to decide on the right approach. The problem may be small today, but it could be catastrophic tomorrow.
A problem-solving system
The best way to make sure problems don’t become the norm in your factory is to establish a system for addressing them. This is likely going to be a Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) framework, or something similar, but it might be as simple as properly documenting every issue or entering a work ticket into your enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
At its core, avoiding a “Frisbee on the roof” requires vigilance. Identify and define problems. Set a firm time frame for solving them. Develop goals with actionable steps — and follow through. Document everything, make sure you’re truly solving the problem, and create accountability for your entire team.
A small equipment malfunction may seem like a petty annoyance, but don’t be fooled: It’s a call to action.