The Nabholz team at Ozark Mill is applying lean principles to drive waste out of their project. The job site, just south of Springfield, will become a beehive of activity this summer. In preparation for the busy phase ahead, Superintendent James McElhaney challenged his team to anticipate bottlenecks and devise creative solutions to maintain workflow.

“Nothing Hits the Floor” is a lean practice that keeps materials and debris off the floor. Using palettes or wheeled carts for material staging promotes better housekeeping and improves traffic flow. It makes moving materials easier, quicker, and safer. Using wheeled containers for cutoffs prevents debris piles from accumulating in work areas. It saves clean up time and helps get debris to the trash containers quicker. Nothing Hits the Floor eliminates wasted transportation and wasted motion, spoiled inventory, extra processing, and the deadly waste of waiting. We successfully implemented this principle on a school jobsite in Kansas.

The Ozark Mill team combined Nothing Hits the Floor with the some of the “5S” principles — sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain.

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The charging station Josh built.

Josh Johnson, a Nabholz carpenter, created temporary battery charging stations to promote standard common spaces on the job site to recharge cordless tools, creating a tidier job site and eliminating the time it takes for other workers to locate charging cords and outlets.
Josh also created a temporary lift charging station to promote a standard common space on the job site for recharging man lifts, making it easier for workers to locate this vital piece of machinery and eliminating wait time while the lift would need to charge. Josh also put what he calls his “spider box” on wheels so workers can quickly move the cluster of electrical receptacles to wherever work tasks require it.

Though not one of the 5S principles, safety stays top of mind with any activity on the job site, and these innovations all improved safety conditions. The tool charging stations will eliminate the trip hazard from cords being scattered across work areas. The charging and “parking lot” for lifts keeps these bulky pieces of equipment from creating tight points on the job site that could cause workers to hurt themselves.

These innovations highlight something else very important. These changes weren’t handed down from upper management, and they weren’t just another policy for craftworkers to follow, but not buy into. Instead, the job site superintendent anticipated challenges by looking ahead to peak production times on the project schedule and asked his team to create solutions. In turn, Assistant Superintendent Nick Styn, Project Engineer Wyatt Feldhacker, and Carpenter Josh Johnson, all members of the project team and familiar with the job site, created solutions that work for them.

Now, is when upper management comes in at Nabholz. Corporate Innovative Director Jon Pahl will take these jobsite-born innovations and spread these ideas throughout the company so that other Nabholz projects can operate more efficiently and safely. Ultimately, though, these kinds of improvements benefit our clients’ bottom lines and create quality end-products.