The Value of Video

Here are some benefits of capturing video on the shop floor.


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Today’s camera, computer, tablet and smartphone technologies (not to mention Google Glass) make taking and accessing video a snap, even on the shop floor. Here are a few ways shops can leverage this capability to become more efficient and effective.

• Video for lean. Capturing video of shopfloor personnel performing specific tasks can help identify wasteful aspects of an existing process. For example, video can show the extent to which people must leave their work area to search for needed items. Long distances equal much waste.

After evaluating such a video, you might determine that you could streamline the process by making available all commonly used hand tools, cutters, gages, etc., at the workstation. It might also underscore the value in stocking carts ahead of time with the job traveler and all the tooling, raw material and so on needed for an upcoming job. This ensures that setup personnel have everything needed to immediately change-over a machine, potentially saving hours of time that would otherwise be lost to gathering items after the current job is completed.

• Video for setups. It’s not uncommon for shops to take photos while setting up a new job and include photo prints in the job travelers when that work returns. In fact, some shops have networked computer terminals at machines and make those photos available with just a couple of mouse clicks. If your shop provides networked computers at machines, why not take the next step and make video of setup procedures available? Not only is video a more detailed medium, but it also provides the advantage of audio, offering tips or critical reminders to the next person who performs the setup.

• Video of unattended machining. Some degree of predictability is built into any lights-out machining process, but no process is flawless. Cutters or EDM wire can unexpectedly break, which could lead to extended lengths of unproductive idle time. Quality Tooling, a shop with a lights-out approach that I wrote about in the article found here, installed LED cameras in its facility positioned to view its machines’ control screens or workzones to check for such issues. Select personnel can access camera views via their home computers or smartphones. That way, the shop doesn’t have to pay someone to perform these checks in person during off hours.

• Video for marketing. An increasing number of shops are uploading video to YouTube to market their businesses, oftentimes linking to those videos from their websites. The trend is supported by responses to a question in our 2014 Top Shops benchmarking survey. The percentage of shops in our benchmarking group that upload videos to YouTube increased from approximately 5 percent in the 2011 survey to 22 percent in this year’s survey.

Of course, for a couple of these examples, you might meet resistance from employees who aren’t keen about being eyed by a camera or having video taken of themselves. It’s important in these cases that they clearly understand how these practices can benefit not only the shop, but also themselves, because it ultimately can make their jobs easier.