Effect of Working Practices on Efficiency and Productivity
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Published: Wed, 13 Dec 2017
The aim of this project is to identify why current working practices and procedures are affecting workshop efficiency (class contact time) and productivity (hands on time) during the daily running of an educational motor vehicle workshop.
The main objective of the report will be to make recommendations on work area design and workshop layout and the proposal of new working practices and procedures to help improve the efficiency and productivity within the motor vehicle workshop.
Chapter 1 – Introduction
Chapter 2 – Background
Clydebank College first opened as a technical college in 1965 its aim was to support the training needs of apprentices in the local manufacturing companies and the shipyards.
The economic activity in the area has changed over the years so the courses offered by the college have had to change to meet the local employment needs.
The original college was in a severe state of disrepair and as a result of this Clydebank College opened a brand new £34 million campus at Queens Quay on the riverside at Clydebank in the summer of 2007.
The college delivers education and training from its main campus in Clydebank, and from community outreach centres in Dumbarton and Faifley.
Most of the college’s learners come from areas of high unemployment, where there is a low participation in further education and a lower proportion of school leaver’s than average progress into higher education.
2.1 Existing Laboratory
The motor vehicle workshop at Clydebank College is a single room, open plan, workshop approximately 25 x 20 metres (500m²) in size. The workshop was designed to accommodate up to 6 classes of approximately 12 students and one lecturer per class.
2.1.1 Workshop Layout
The laboratory has work bays laid out for 23 motor vehicles it also has to hold motorcycles, quads, buggies and associated workshop tools and equipment.
There are workbenches and lockers situated at various points around the workshop, two communal sinks are plumbed in at one end and a moveable rolling road is installed in the corner of the workshop, cleaning equipment and large workshop tools are also stored in the main workshop area, all these facilities are shared between all motor vehicle classes.
Open plan design allows a work area to be easily changed into a different workspace with limited costs should the need arise. The workspace is more adaptable and with no internal walls etc. the initial build costs are much lower.
This open plan design of the motor vehicle workshop is a new concept for the college and most of the policies and procedures that are in place have been brought over from the old campus, whilst some of these policies and procedures do work there have been a number of issues develop over the last year as a result of this change in workshop design.
2.2 Automotive Curriculum
The motor vehicle courses offered at Clydebank College are as follows:
* City & Guilds 3901
* City & Guilds 4101 (Level 1,2 & 3)
* HNC/D Automotive engineering
2.2.1 City & Guilds 3901
Aimed at students with no previous qualification or knowledge of the subject area it is suitable for the 14+ age range. This qualification is ideal for secondary school students or as a pre-entry level to the modern apprenticeship program it focuses mainly on developing students practical skills with some oral questioning to test underpinning knowledge.
2.2.2 City & Guilds 4101
Level 1, 2 & 3 and the modern apprenticeship program is an introduction to the maintenance, repair and diagnosis of automotive vehicles it has routes for tyre fitting, general fitting, light vehicle, heavy vehicle and motorcycle maintenance.
The starting point for students with no prior experience of the subject area is Level 1 this level is suitable for 14+ year olds. Level 2 recognises that the learner will now be in a position to carry out routine tasks with a lower level of supervision and Level 3 focuses on developing student’s diagnostic techniques.
2.2.3 Higher National Certificate/Diploma
HNC/D automotive engineering is delivered over 2.5 days per week for 2 years it focuses mainly on the theoretical side of automotive engineering but also has practically assessed diagnostic units.
The delivery of the motor vehicle curriculum is carried out by 13 members of staff in total. The motor vehicle section consists of a curriculum leader and assistant curriculum leader, 7 full time lecturers, two part time lecturers, a store person and two technicians.
2.3.1 Course equipment requirements
The motor vehicle courses delivered at Clydebank College require various workshop equipments to facilitate the completion of practical assessments.
See appendix A for a list of the equipment holding for the motor vehicle workshop.
The majority of the workshop tools and equipment are centralised within the motor vehicle store and as such are not part of the problem that this report is trying to address.
The equipment that is stored within the main workshop area is only to be considered during this report.
2.3.2 Health & Safety
Health and safety policies and procedures will not be analysed during this report, any issues found in this area will be passed onto the college H&S officer for further investigation.
2.4 Literature Review
The Design Council (About: Workplace Design, no date) have identified that there are a number of key challenges faced in developing a more innovative workplace strategy through a change in workplace design.
The credibility of new ideas is usually always questioned because most people don’t like change, especially people that have been in an organisation for many years. People in this situation have become comfortable with what they know and usually have a mentality of “what works now will always work” or “what’s the point” or “if it aint broke don’t fix it”.
Most people have little idea that the working environment affects our attitudes and performance, (Strange and Banning, ) pointed out that “although features of the physical environment lend themselves theoretically to all possibilities, the layout, location and arrangement of space and facilities render some behaviours much more likely, and thus more probable than others.”
“Educational institutes should learn to understand that spatial arrangements can support retention and improve student performances; they must also understand that good space is not a luxury but a key determinant of good learning environments.” (Oblinger, 2006)
Any proposals to change the spatial arrangements within an organisation should firstly be discussed with the current employees. Management should seriously consider ideas from staff on workplace remodelling before imposing their decisions upon the workforce, it must be remembered that it’s the employees that have to work in the environment being changed every day of the week. It would also be wise to ask for employees to be involved at various stages of the process to assist in making the changes work.
Keeping the facility or equipment in an operational condition can be difficult in a training facility due to an educational establishments varied hours and rates of occupancy. These can impact on the facilities operations and maintenance schedules. A proactive facility management program should be employed to anticipate facility problems rather than reacting to them when they occur (WBDG, 2009). This will ensure optimal long and short term use of the facility and if integrated early enough in the design process can improve productivity and reduce operating costs (Manuele, Christensen, 1999).
Maintaining a training facility and its equipment in a clean and tidy condition will promote good engineering hygiene practises in its students. (Strange and Banning) highlighted ways in which the physical appearance of a campus convey a non verbal message, they cited research that links the physical appearance of a space to the motivation and task performance of those working in that space.
The (Whole Building Design Guide, 2009) point out that training facilities, courses and timetables vary frequently and that instructors have different and evolving training methods. Flexibility, therefore, should be a huge consideration of any proposed spatial design change and is critical to the continuing success of an enduring training facility. (WBDG, 2009) also recommend strategies to assist in achieving an improved training facility such as clustering instructional areas around shared support and resource spaces and the use of an appropriate combination of stand alone moveable partitions between classrooms and shared spaces. Partitions that can be adjusted in height are a good idea to ensure some visual contact can be kept with the rest of the activities going on around, but a degree of privacy is maintained (Evans and Lovell, 1979).
Research into partitioning in the nursery school suggests that young children prefer social contexts rather than the privacy of small activity spaces but as they get older it found they retain this preference but also realise that they need more peace and quiet to think!! It is also important to realise that partitioning can aid the control of the children where their own ability to control themselves is limited; as with younger children or children with learning difficulties.
Workspaces should be arranged in line with the educational goals of the training facility but should also ensure a moderate openness but with acoustical privacy; allowing students to hear their instructors clearly but with a low ambient background noise and few distractions. This would be achieved with some form of room partitioning.
(Hudson Valley Community College, 2009) agreed that their proposed new automotive training facility would have mini-labs with lab space for three cars as well as two vehicle lifts and an area with work benches and tool storage areas. This facility design, they believe, would improve the educational environment and enhance the students workforce readiness by working in a space that is similar to the space they will experience in the workplace. (Klatte and others, 1997) also emphasized that a standardised, ergonomically designed workspace as the basis for an improvement in working and (Govindaraju, 2001) stated that ergonomic considerations improve human performance.
Kletz (1991) wrote that it is difficult for engineers to change human nature and, therefore, instead of trying to persuade people not to make mistakes, we should accept people as we find them and try to remove opportunities for error by changing the work situation, that is, equipment design or the method of working.
Like many other organisations, Cisco concluded that their workplace environment was at odds with the way they worked. They believed a flexible, collaborative workspace would improve employee satisfaction and increase productivity. Some solutions that were introduced were unassigned workspaces, small individual workstations, highly mobile furnishings and space dividers and lockers for personal items. (Cisco-Connected workspace enhances work experience)
Changes to spatial layouts can be costly, complex and highly disruptive when changing the physical layout or the fabric of the building. This level of cost is not relevant to all organisations and all proposed changes and with some smart thinking design ideas to improve efficiency can be implemented with a prudent level of expenditure.
Any changes made to a workplace should be measurable. Deciding on the evaluation criteria at an early stage will allow changes to be measured. Measurement criteria should be sensible and simple, such as staff absences, running costs, replacing damaged/lost equipment, the intensity of space occupancy or error reporting, staff and student morale.
(Kuh et al,) discovered that the physical environment is an important characteristic of institutions that do exceptionally well in engaging with their students and that spatial arrangements support learner retention and are a key factor in a quality learning environment.
If a superior quality product or result is wanted then it must be designed into new systems and processes (Deming, 1986). Process improvement is a never ending cycle that requires continuous efforts to bring new ideas to improve performance.
Changes in customer needs, changes in technology and competitors speed up these efforts (Kumru, Kilicogullari, 2007).
Chapter 3 – Laboratory Issues
The motor vehicle workshop is an extremely difficult area to manage in its current form mainly due to its size, number of staff, the quantity of equipment and the number of activities undertaken within.
The assistant curriculum leader is responsible for managing the workshop in its entirety on a daily basis. The ACL must ensure that vehicles are not being damaged and that they are put back together fully following classroom activities; that shared resources are maintained in a serviceable condition and are returned to their correct locations. The ACL must also ensure that the workshop in general is kept in a clean and well maintained condition and is responsible for the health and safety of staff and students within.
All these tasks must be done whilst still being committed to a full teaching timetable that very rarely takes place in the workshop.
Workshop practical time is at a premium for students and is essential for completing a motor vehicle course successfully. Full time students would expect to receive 9 hours tuition per week in the classroom for technology theory and 9 hours per week tuition in the vehicle workshop on practical tasks and assessment. A typical schools class would normally spend approximately 80 hours per week in the workshop and is assessed on practical competencies only.
Students whilst in the motor vehicle workshop can and do spend a lot of time collecting hand tools, finding equipment, finding serviceable equipment, waiting for shared resources to become available, travelling through other classes to find shared resources, rectifying unreported vehicle faults and a lot of time can be spend standing around or misbehaving whilst a lecturer’s time is spent elsewhere remedying one or more of the above.
Student lab time is normally affected by one or more of the problems listed below.
3.1 Work areas
There are no designated classroom areas within the workshop, bay allocation is on a first come first serve basis and lecturers must liaise with each other to obtain suitable class workspace.
Lecturers can also find it difficult to keep track of their students in such a busy environment with no defined classroom areas, this can lead to health & safety concerns and child protection issues given the number of students under the age of 16 years that attend classes within the motor vehicle engineering department.
Workshop cleanliness and general housekeeping tends to suffer in or around the common areas currently there is no way of pinpointing who is responsible for the mess.
3.1.1 Mezzanine area
The workshop mezzanine area is currently a disorganised storage point for most of the shared workshop equipment this equipment is getting damaged and is eating into valuable class space. Shelving has been ordered to alleviate some of the storage problems although there is no lifting facility to move objects to the upper level of the mezzanine.
The mezzanine area is also used to store motorcycles, quads, off-road buggies etc for other specialist classes within the curriculum area, these assets act as a distraction to most students, and are sustaining damage when students ‘play’ on them.
3.2 Shared resources
Most of the shared workshop equipment does not have designated storage points and are currently stored at random around the vehicle workshop; shared resources are not signed for and when finished with have no official storage area to be returned to; all this equipment is used on a first come first serve basis.
Staff and students requiring the use shared workshop equipment usually have to travel through other classes to locate often causing a disturbance.
When two or more classes within the workshop are using shared equipment such as jacks, axle stands or cleaning equipment there are not always enough units to go around this can leave some classes in a position were they must wait idly for this equipment to become available.
Unproductive students can often misbehave or wander around the workshop through other classes causing a distraction trying to find equipment that is no longer being used or has not been returned to its original location.
Shared resources also tend not to be reported by students when they become damaged or unserviceable because it is too much of a hassle and they have no responsibility for it.
Presently there are four badly equipped tool chests for students and lecturers in the workshop to share. Tools regularly go missing from these toolboxes due to them being left lying around the various work areas or tools can become damaged without being replaced.
Workshop vehicle keys are issued from the main storeroom to students as and when they are required; these keys can mistakenly get taken home and cars can get started unnecessarily, sometimes dangerously as most of the motor vehicle students are not competent enough technically or yet hold a valid driving licence.
Damage to equipment, unproductive students, class disturbances, H&S issues
3.3 Fault reporting
Vehicle faults, damaged equipment and work requests to the technicians are passed through a paper based work request slip, only the technician and lecturer requesting the work know that the job exists, there is no way of informing other lecturers that a job on a vehicle has not been completed in time other than by word of mouth this can sometimes lead to a class having to put a vehicle back together before they start their own work or a class expecting to start work on a vehicle but find that the car has been broken and nobody knows about it.
There is also no system to inform other lecturers that a vehicle has been set up for an assessment, again, other than by word of mouth.
Lockers are not issued permanently to motor vehicle students but are issued by lecturing staff at the start of each lesson and keys receipted at the end.
There are not always enough lockers for students when the workshop is busy as presently locker keys are owned by lecturing staff and not shared, some lecturing staff have no access to lockers unless they are borrowed from colleagues.
3.3.2 Learner Retention and Pass Rates
The problems highlighted can and do affect the students learning experience they stretch workshop resources, reduce the students’ practical time on vehicles and impact on the lecturers contact time with the class, this will affect learner retention and ultimately student pass rates.
Very little has been written on improving efficiency and productivity in an educational vehicle workshop.
Why are the indentified problems a problem?
Poor citing of shared resources, inability to find equipment, lack of fault reporting, etc. all lead to a reduction in efficiency and productivity.
What would stop the problems from being problems?
Having lecturers take responsibility for areas of the workshop.
Better citing of, and designated areas for, shared resources, more classroom resources or better citing of existing classroom equipment.
An effective fault reporting mechanism put in place.
Equipment in designated areas with workshop plan and equipment lists at each base to easily guide students to equipment location.
How are we going to implement or manage the change?
Break the workshop down into smaller workshop or classroom areas, equip each classroom individually and assign a lecturer or two to manage each classroom. Colour coded equipment within each classroom for ease of identification.
What has happened as a result of the changes?
All equipment within each classroom is sufficient to complete tasks within it. Equipment is placed back at its storage point at the end of each lesson. Faults are reported to lecturers as they happen and dealt with or serviceable classroom equipment is compromised.
Chapter 4 – Preferred Setup
It has been proven since the opening of the new college that a workshop of this size cannot be managed effectively without a full time workshop manager in place. This appointment will never happen in an educational institution so other forms of managing the work space must be found.
The workshop should be organised in such a way that it is self managing but it must also be able to be used as an efficient reporting mechanism for informing the assistant curriculum leader/curriculum leader of issues arising in the workshop to enable them to be acted upon.
Individual members of staff should have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and be accountable for their own and their student’s actions.
The preferred arrangement in any motor vehicle workshop should see that it is adequately equipped and that the equipment is suitably positioned in such a way that it provides an efficient means of working.
Where similar workshop tasks are being performed the equipment and mechanisms for management should be identical so that all staff members are clear about what is expected and that there is no ambiguity or confusion when staff are timetabled to work in various areas of the workshop.
When part time members of staff are employed there is only one system of work to learn, all advice or questions will be responded to with the same answer as each permanent member of staff will be working to the same set of procedures.
4.1 Proposed Changes to the Laboratory
To rectify the problem of workspace allocation it is proposed that the interior of the workshop be split into 6 classroom areas excluding the mezzanine area.
The six workshop areas should be timetabled individually from the college central timetabling system. Timetabling each area separately will prevent the workshop from becoming overloaded and will ensure that each class has a designated work area for the duration of their allocated slot.
Splitting the laboratory from one large area into six smaller areas will ease the burden of its day to day management. One person will not be required to continually oversee the daily operation of the workshop instead they will only need to be reported to. Each individual lecturer within the department by being centrally allocated a work area will be required to take ownership for it and will therefore be accountable for all that goes on within that area.
The six classroom areas should be partitioned by some form of barrier i.e. moveable boards or screens, the barriers will provide a clear indication of classroom boundaries and assist with identifying class areas of responsibility.
The barriers will help prevent pupils from straying away from their work areas making it easier for lecturers to keep track of their students. The barriers should also assist in preventing students from disturbing other class lectures.
Dividing classrooms within the workshop will assist in the control of school aged pupils; closer supervision is required for these class groups due to their maturity levels and inability to relate to health and safety requirements.
Child protection concerns will also be easier to identify and manage.
Human traffic, within the motor vehicle laboratory, would be easier to direct onto designated walkways away from the work areas and vehicles further reducing the risk of injury, class disturbance and damage to vehicles and equipment.
Classroom barriers would also provide additional space for diagrams or posters and allow electronic lectures or demonstrations to be projected onto.
4.2 Classroom Work Areas
Timetabling classes to work areas within the laboratory will introduce a fairer system of workspace allocation. It will ensure that lecturers and students always have a space to work in and vehicles to work on. This system will make lecturers accountable for the space in which they are working and encourage them to ensure students are completing tasks fully, that tools and equipment are always kept serviceable or reported when faults develop, it will ensure that tools and equipment are put away in there designated areas after each class and reduce equipment losses and it will also improve the general housekeeping of the workshop.
Any issues arising in the workshop for a specific time period can be addressed by looking up the class and lecturer that were working in the area when the problems occurred.
4.3 Classroom Equipment
It is recommended that each classroom area within the workshop is issued with a selection of regularly used tools and equipment. This will increase the time available to students for working on vehicles by reducing the time that they spend looking for this type of equipment in the workshop.
It will also provide a means of conveniently being able to perform a daily stock check of equipment and will provide a mechanism for reporting on the condition of tools and equipment within each of the classes.
Below is a recommended list of equipment that should be issued to each classroom area within the workshop:
* A lecturers’ locker would enable the secure storage of student folders, lesson notes, specialist, valuable or loaned equipment, etc.
* 12-16 lockers for students personal effects
* 1x Workbench per vehicle bay
* 1x black drip tray for oil per work bay
* 2x 3 litre oil filling jugs
* 1x green drip tray for coolant/water per bay
* 1x vehicle jack per work bay
* 4x axle stands per work bay
* 1x wheel braces per work bay
* 1x watering can per class
* 1x wash bucket per bay
* 1x dust pan and brush per bay
* 2x mop and mop bucket per class
* 1x Bench vice per work bay
* 1x desk per classroom for diagnostic work; paperwork, laptop citing, projector etc.
* 1x rubbish bin per class
* 1x shelving unit to store tools and equipment
* 1x fault report book
4.4 Technician work area
As part of the workshops reorganisation and to assist the technicians with fault rectification and preparation work it is recommended that the motor vehicle technicians be given a vehicle bay as a designated work area; this work area should be situated in the corner of the workshop and allow for easy access into the technicians workroom. This designated bay will enable vehicles, which require work to be done, to be taken out of the class room area and worked on without disruption to students, lecturers and the technicians. This work bay should be screened off, preferably by welding screens, to prevent access by non authorised personnel, to reduce disturbances to both classes and technicians and to allow welding tasks etc. to be carried out at any time of the day.
The technicians work bay should be equipped independently of the rest of the workshop with equipment such as:
* 1x jack
* 4x axle stands
* 1x complete tool kit in roller cabinet
* 1x complete set of air tools
* 1x set of power tools (grinder, drill, etc)
* MIG welder and associated equipment
* Oxy-Acetylene welding equipment
* 1x oil drip tray
* 1x coolant drip tray
* 1x metal bench with vice
* 1x watering can
* 1x rubbish bin
* 1x soft brush and dust pan
* 1x shelving unit to store tools and equipment
4.5 Identifying and Controlling Equipment
To help identify and control tools and equipment within the six workshop areas it is recommended that each classroom is designated a colour. All equipment that is issued to and contained within each of the classroom areas should be painted the colour that has been designated to that classroom for ease of identification.
All classroom equipment that is able to be shelved should be stored on a colour coded shelving unit. The shelving unit should be labelled with the equipment that is to be stored upon it and a laminated sheet attached as a guide for students as to where each item of equipment should be stored and its quantities.
Colour coding will assist both staff and students with daily equipment checks, locating equipment and will improve the reporting of equipment faults or losses.
Classroom equipment should only be used within its designated classroom area.
Student locker keys should be stored in the main store room in a colour coded container. This will ensure that all lecturers have the ability to issue a locker to each student in their class wherever they are working in the workshop.
Lecturers will collect keys from the main store at the start of the morning or afternoon period when work bays are identified and will be returned to the store complete at the end of each slot.
Locker keys will be issued to students in exchange for a valid student ID card.
Student ID cards will be returned to each student when lecturers are happy that all tools signed out have been returned to the main store and when the locker has been emptied and the key returned, this will accurately identify students that have not returned tools to the store or returned locker keys and will also ensure that student ID cards are brought to college.
4.6 Mezzanine Area
The area below the mezzanine should be separated into designated work or storage areas to better utilise the workshop floor space.
The individual work areas should be separated by a barrier or partition wall of some kind to act as a clear boundary to make work space housekeeping easier to manage and as somewhere to place posters/instructions/diagrams etc.
Work areas should consist of a tyre fitting bay, a bench fitting area, a storage area for removed vehicle parts, a storage area for large shared resources and a recycling/waste area.
The tyre fitting bay should contain the workshops tyre removal machine and wheel balancing equipment. Both these items should be secured to the floor to prevent them from moving or tipping whilst students work on them, the items should also be permanently wired into the workshop electrical supply to reduce the risk of electrocution from coming into contact with a 240v mains supply.
This area should also be fitted with a dedicated tyre shelving unit to provide a storage solution for the tyre clutter that amasses regularly on the upper mezzanine area. Storing the tyres at ground level will eliminate the need to visit the upper mezzanine area, will allow the tyres to be better managed and reduce the risk of fire.
A dedicated bench fitting area will provide students with a place to take components stripped from vehicles to be examined or worked on. It will provide lecturers with a suitable space to teach and develop student’s basic metal fitting skills prior to working on vehicles. The area should contain workbenches and vices for an entire class to work productively, a bench mounted grinder should be located in this area along with a floor mounted pillar drill and a floor mounted hydraulic press. The pillar drill and hydraulic press should be secured to the floor to prevent them from
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