The case of the dummy dials

By KC Boxbottom in Optimization on July 26, 2012

I had met Rafael when I did an effective troubleshooting workshop in his plant. He took me up on my invitation to pick my brain if he ever needed to.

“Hi KC!” he exclaimed. “Remember when you said that it was important to standardize conveyor speeds during changeovers? We set them to a specific speed but the operators keep changing them. Any thoughts on how we can stop this? We’ve tried training and counseling and nothing seems to stop them.”

“Fiddlesticks on changing settings!” I exclaimed. “Put the adjusting knobs inside JIC boxes. Make sure the covers require a screwdriver to open so only mechanics can get at them. That’ll stop ‘em.”

“Great idea, KC,” he said. “I’ll try that.”

He called me a few weeks later. It seems that he had some highly motivated operators.

“I put the adjusting knobs in a box like you suggested and it helped, but some of the operators figured out how to open the boxes using multi-tools,” he confided.

I was at a loss as to what to say, but he continued:

“But it’s OK, I found another solution that works. I put some dummy knobs on the cover of the box. Then I told the operators not to touch them. They pay no attention to me and continue to crank them up and down. Since they are not connected anywhere, I don’t care. The speed stays where it’s set.”

I love ideas from the trenches. It shows that you can still teach an old dog like me new tricks.


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, 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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Thanks for the feedback. I always appreciate it. John Henry
That is a great post KC… just goes to show how easy it is to work a solid solution.!!
That’s a tried and true HVAC solution. I kept getting maintenance calls to our open-concept accounting office, as people fought over the thermostat and claimed nothing worked. We hid the working thermostat and left one on the wall with power to run the display but no control, and the complaints have stopped!