The Case of the Missing Moments

How can two extra seconds make a difference on a packaging line? Do the math. You might be able to produce another million packages per year.

KC Boxbottom

August 7, 2020

1 Min Read
Photo credit: Lucky_Dragon_USA –

KC Boxbottom

Another day in lockdown, I was ho-humming it with my Marmaduke Surfaceblow collection. When the phone rang, it was Alanys. “KC, you have to help me. I’m losing money and can’t figure out why.”

It sounded essential, so I promised I’d be right over.

“My boss says I’m coming up short on production. I’ve looked at how we’re running and can’t see why. What’s wrong?”

“Let’s go have a looksee,” I told her. As soon as we got to the line, I saw the problem. The inline filler was the constraint and I fingered the problem. It was the indexing.   

“Fiddlesticks on line losses,” I vociferated. “You’ve got an index problem.” I adjusted it and told her to watch her boss smile.

“I don’t see any difference,” Alanys told me.

“Look closely. I took two seconds out of the index cycle time. Now you are running 60 bottles per minute instead of 56.”

She looked dubious. “How is two seconds going to help me? Two seconds is nothing.”

“Trust the numbers,” I explained. “Two extra seconds means four extra bottles. Every single minute. You run 24/5 or 360,000 minutes per year. If you run four more bottles each minute, it’s a million plus extra bottles per year.

“You need to make sure that your team sets the speed correctly every day and you need to monitor it constantly to make sure those two seconds don’t go missing again.”

Still think two seconds is nothing? Alanys doesn’t.

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