Trending @IIE

Welcome to Trending @IIE, where we bring you correspondence from and interactions between Industrial Engineer's readers as well as IIE's social media group members. This month's highlights include pace rating truths, interview prep and one-word descriptors of industrial engineering. 


Pace rating advice rings true

I enjoyed seeing and reading the essay about pace rating ("Old Tool Remains Useful," September 2014).

I did not have specific training in use of the stopwatch during my education. However, at my first IE job at Kenworth Motor Truck Manufacturing, we watched hours of video about working speeds of employees. This was not very scientific, but it proved to be a standardized basis for rating the speed at which employees worked. I had a problem, and still do, accepting paces that are more than 100 percent. Similar to a racehorse, a worker cannot perform at that rate for very long.

Dealing cards seems to be the ideal training exercise. The standard of plus or minus 5 percent is new to me and seems appropriate.

By performing the timing, an IE can develop a "feeling" for the operation. Analogous to pace timing is key stroking data onto worksheets. When performing a business valuation, I create 20 Excel worksheets. I do the keystroking as it "gives me a feel" for the business. I once worked with an IE who disliked timing and created his standards from standard data. To me, that method lacks the personal feel.

Wayne Moorhead
Moorhead Business Brokerage LLC
Leawood, Kansas

As andon cord tech advances, fear holds plants back

A common reader reaction to "Buttoning Down" in October's Front Line, which reported that Toyota was replacing its fabled andon cords with wireless technology, might be: "What? We've had electronic line stop in our plant for five, 10 or 20 years," with some adding, "And we went wireless long ago."

For years, the majority of plants in various industries that I've visited have had stack lights, red signifying machine stop/line stop and saying, "We're stopped; help!" Yellow says we're running slow, and green means that all is well. I don't go to car plants a lot, but it is my impression that most, maybe almost all, have long had line-stop buttons (rarely pull cords) with electronic displays of where the stop point is.

But in most such plants, the cost impact of a line stop – many stations brought down – is such that assemblers tend to be loath to push the stop button, the result of which is end-of-line rework.

Contrary to that, at Kawasaki's motorcycle plant in Lincoln, Nebraska, the goal for the red light – line shutdown – was 30 minutes a day, so that assemblers usually would not be afraid to hit the red switch. The explanation comes from my own 1986 book World Class Manufacturing: "Each red light (or yellow light) event is precious, because it signals a problem, gives an opportunity to record a cause, and leads to permanent solutions."

Also, if they shut down for less than 30 minutes, "assemblers must be pressing too hard and making too many mistakes, which increases end-of-line rework."

Richard J. Schonberger
Independent researcher/author/speaker
Bellevue, Washington


Akshar Gujar, a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, asked what kind of questions he should expect in an interview for an entry-level job in manufacturing/quality. 

"I would suggest you … review behavioral-based questions. They are based on past experiences either as an intern or student, which will help you predict future behavior and performance. These types of questions focus on knowledge, strengths, skills and abilities that are related to the job description and your resume. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are and support them with an example. Also, general interview questions such as ‘Why are you interested in our company?' ‘What motivates you?' and ‘What do you know about our company?' are very common."

Gabriela Aviles
Research and development intern at Tissue-Tech Inc.

"Interviews related to quality generally run around Six Sigma – from process improvement to design of experiments. Get your basics clear (e.g., Can control limits be greater than spec limits? Why?). Make sure you have in-depth knowledge about DMAIC (if possible support your answer with the projects you have done). Apart from technical questions like these, they may ask your feedback about their issues in their machines and would ask your suggestion on how should they go about ... it. They may also ask situation-related questions and choice-related questions."

Ammar Dohadwala
Quality intern at Schaeffler

"A common question is: What would you like to be professionally in five years or XX years? Being clear about what you want [speaks to being] a determined person who can achieve his own goals and also the common ones with the company."

Betiana Pamela Cartechini
Industrial engineer


Luis Alberto Romero Murillo asked: How would you describe industrial engineering in only one word? 

Roberto Colombari Morales: Versatility

Howard Saidman: THERBLIG

Chris Perkins: Efficiency

Eduardo Lerma: Productivity

Martha G. Verdin: Optimization

John Huffman: Integration

Steve Suggs: Answers

Budz Lagela: Systematic

Bijan Moghimi: Process management

Mohamed El Mekabbaty: Awesome!

San T Ooz Ghimire was seeking suggestions for a good research-based ergonomics project. 

Usman Dawood Barry: Reducing noise levels in manufacturing facility or improving the performance of workers operating a conveyor system by studying their body movements

Amit Blaze Chapagain: Maybe a comparative study between worker productivity and workstation environment

IIE Web Managing Editor David Brandt recommended Kevin McManus' December performance column, "Addicted to Improvement." 

Mark Coker: "His columns are always a good read."

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