I would be shocked if I have to tell any Nip Impressions reader what the most important machine is, but in keeping with the theme I am following this month, I will--the invoice printer.
What is surprising is how many people, when introduced to this topic face to face, tell me, with a straight face, that "we don't print invoices anymore." Wow! How literal can you get?
As I often explain, everyone prints invoices... The ticket at the Friday night football game (common here in the US) is an "invoice." The offering plate at church is an "invoice." The only legal way to collect money is via an invoice representing an exchange of money for goods or services. Even governments use invoices to collect taxes (although they have a more powerful collection system than anyone else).
This, in one way makes a manager's job easy--get rid of everything that does not contribute to making invoices. In a mismanaged facility, you'll be stunned by what the critical and determined application of this principal will do for your bottom line. In an enterprise of any size that has been even slightly mismanaged one should expect a doubling of net profit.
For employees, this is a cautionary tale and an opportunity. Employees can be redundant. Make sure your employment has a nearly direct link to the invoice printer. If you don't have a direct link to the invoice printer, find a position where you do and do everything you can to help that "machine" spin as fast as you can.
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Just a couple of weeks ago, a major company in the US south announced the permanent closure of a linerboard machine. This seems unfathomable given the long-term projections for corrugated containers. Yet, just from the limited data in the company's press release, it was obvious this machine was taking too many people to spin its invoice printer--it looked like over twice as many as is necessary on a state of the art machine (and this company has several state of the art machines ready to step in and take up the slack).
So, managers, look at the assets (including people) deployed in your area of responsibility. Is everything and everybody pulling their weight? If not, eliminate those that are a drag on the system.
And employees, drop that silly attitude of "they can't live without me." Of course, they can. It is your job to raise your energy level, raise your intellectual engagement to the point where it is difficult to replace you. It will never be impossible.
For safety this week, the "invoice printer" in safety is a strongly beating heart. Whether in the extremis of an accident or in your daily routine, make sure a healthy beating heart is the objective for you and your coworkers. Thinking deeply about this, there is a lot to do here to make sure this is happening.
Be safe and we will talk next week.