"What we have here is a failure to communicate!"
"Sorry, Solly," I told her. "You are no Strother Martin."
"Yeah, but I still have a failure to communicate. I have a filler in a cleanroom and the product tank in the next room. There is a bulkhead pass-through that needs to be connected in a specific sequence. There is no intercom or phone, so the operators have to communicate by hand gestures through a window.
"It doesn't always work well," she sighed.
"We thought about developing a system of standard hand signals like crane operators,” she told me. "It seemed complicated and nothing came of it. We looked at intercoms but the installation would disrupt production and we can't afford that. We need something simple. Got any ideas?"
"Fiddlesticks on corrupted communication. You really need an intercom but that might be overthinking it."
I reached under my desk and picked up a DoodleSketch that my grandson had been playing with. This is a small board that can be written on with a magnetic pen and easily erased. Unlike a white board, it does not generate particulates.
"Get a couple of these," I told her, "one on each side of the window. The operators will be able to ‘talk’ to each other easily by writing brief messages or symbols.
"Many of the problems in the world are caused by poor communication. I can't do much about the world but perhaps we can improve your little corner of it."
Known as the Changeover Wizard, John R. 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 has written the book, literally, on packaging machinery (www.packmachbook.com) and is the face and personality behind packaging detective KC Boxbottom, the main character in Adventures in Packaging, a popular blog on packagingdigest.com.