Ha !! got your attention. No I am not going to target you as being cheap but rather looking for value.
So what is this remarkable tool?
Electrical Tape !!! ... I tend to like the blue one best
As Lean Practitioners we lament about Standardized work, the elimination of waste, so how can this work for us? We are going to use it as a Visual Guide or a very simple gauge. This really works in environments where you are doing small batch production where you are re-engineering your process frequently.
So we have a Process that consists of a series of Operations and we know that a Productive Employee who is in their Productivity zone is like watching a ballet dancer ... that meticulous repetitive dance as they go through the motions of performing an assigned task. We also know that should we interrupt them the dance moves become clumsy looking until they once again find their rhythm... which in some cases can take up to 21 minutes.
The use of Electrical Tape becomes as important to an operator and how they perform their operation as to a stage actor performing their lines before a live audience on stage. Yes actors will stand on a pre-determined mark where the appropriate lighting and stage presence has been previously engineered. Know what they typically use to make those marks on the stage? ... Yes, Electrical Tape
These "marks" complement Muscle Memory by reducing the guess-work out of the process or relying memory.
Many times I personally have embarked to perform an Operation within a process for say 50 units .. I think to myself the quantity does not justify creating a guage or a jig so i soldier on, sometimes struggling and not really getting into rhythm. Sometimes, i get smart and place marks on the workstation surface and perhaps even the floor (talking floors) that now give me target areas in where work is to be performed and voila my Operation flies ... that Bajillion ROI return on my investment (89cents for a roll of blue electrical tape), and once i am complete, tape is removed, evidence gone and task completed.
So as you watch your team perform, really observe and can a little piece of tape enhance the repeatability and standardization of how they perform the assigned task? Then do it ... they will thank you and so will the process.
Wait, I Have another Once ... and it is attached to you personally
Years ago during my Lean Training in Japan i went to visit a state-of-the-art CNC machine shop. Imagine my shock upon entering the facility seeing a team member on top of a machine cleaning ... Hummm the ultimate 5S perhaps?
Sorry no. I was quickly advised that even still today the human hand is one of the most sensitive instruments on the planet to detect defects. Yes Really !!!
The objective of the Plant Manager was not to have a clean sparkly plant but rather that a human hand would cover the surface area of the entire machine at least once a week to detect any imperfections that could be rectified before they could become severe and cause unscheduled downtime.
We are talking about finding scuffed wires or hoses, frayed belts or excessive fluids emitting from the machine ... all great finds, plus a bonus of getting a sparkly machine if you place a cloth between the human hand and the surface to be inspected.
There you go, 2 very simple and inexpensive tools that can deliver a Bajillion dollar return to your business ... I have more, but they are bit more expensive.