“Morale” of the Story

workers waiting for respect
2 min read

Often times in continuous manufacturing improvement activities, only the machines and processes get the focus and the people are slapped back on the production line with little more than new instructions or even added responsibilities. When people are continuously dealing with alterations in what they are told to do and how to do it, it can become demeaning; you are changing the way they do their job that they have done everyday for possibly years. All of their skills and learned tricks for their job may have just been thrown out the door or replaced. An employee can feel replaceable or mistreated in this case, which lowers morale. It isn’t hard to believe that low morale leads to low productivity, lapses in concentration, and increased unplanned absences. All of these factors hurt your capacity, decrease safety, dampen improvement initiatives, and cause a void between management and labor. Therefore, high morale is important in any company for continued success and improvement.

Transparency and incorporation in the improvement process is key for maintaining higher morale. With transparency, at the very least, the employee gains exposure to the reasons why their responsibilities are changing. Accommodating the workers in this way can give them a sense of importance and

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A Question of Ethics

3 min read

An important consideration in engineering is ethics. Whether it is a product or a manufacturing process, there are ethical decisions to be made. How many safeguards does the process need to have? How safe does the product need to be? Can the product contain a toxic material because it is cheaper than the alternative?

Many times, guidelines from powerful organizations, such as OSHA, are available that enforce ethical decisions and to what degree they are to be enforced. Without these powerful organizations there would be little incentive for companies to develop enhanced safety features, other than normal market competition. Certainly the market could use safety features as a competitive advantage, and that does exist, but without harsh protocols and penalties, it is hard to believe that safety features would be implemented as readily as they are today. The reason is simply this: developing and implementing safety features costs money and creates many engineering problems that require solving, such as what feature is to be made, where to install it, and how effective it is. A company has little incentive to self-impose higher costs. Business decisions are made based on needs and profits; if there is no “need” for a feature and it costs more to implement, then there is no reason for it to exist. Safety protocols and laws provide the need in many cases.

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