The case of the short ceiling

By KC Boxbottom in Optimization on October 24, 2012

Gerry’s message was garbled. All I could make out was “legs … cut … off. Get here fast.”

From the message, I was not sure whether I was going to a packaging line or a crime scene.

When I got to the plant Gerry took me to the aseptic clean room (Class 100, laminar flow ceiling). There was a new bottle orienter, lying on its side because it was too tall to stand up.

“I just can’t figure it out, KC. We measured the ceiling height and it was 10 ft. The orienter is 9 ft. 6 in. as ordered. Now the ceiling height is only 9 ft. We just don’t understand.”

Like doubting St. Thomas, I needed to see for myself and took my own measurements.

“Fiddlesticks on shrinking ceilings!” I exclaimed. “Here’s what happened: You could not go in the clean room to take measurements, could you?”

“Only with great difficulty,” Gerry agreed.

“The clean room discharges into the packaging line and you could see that the ceiling heights were the same in each room. Right?” I asked.

“Yup.”

“They are, but you forgot about the raised floor in the clean room for air return. You got the ceiling height correct but not the distance between floor and ceiling. Never assume floor and ceiling heights are the same between rooms. They often are but…There is nothing else to do but amputate the orienter’s legs. Get operating.”

 

KC Boxbottom, packaging detective, is on the case to solve tough packaging puzzles. He is the alter-ego of John Henry, CPP. Known as the Changeover Wizard, Henry is the owner of Changeover.com, a consulting firm that helps companies find and fix the causes of inefficiencies in their packaging operations. He produces a free monthly newsletter called Lean Changeover, which contains articles and tips on changeover and related issues. Reach him at [email protected].

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