I'm working on performance plans for 2015, and was trying to figure out what level of productivity I can expect from my employees. I'll provide some background and if anyone has any insight I would appreciate your comments / input. We can fire 61 mugs in a single bisque / glaze firing. And, I want to fire a glaze every other day. So, I need 61 mugs made, dried, and ready for bisque every other day. When the bisque is complete, I glaze those mugs, and fire glaze the same day. We typically run 3 bisque and 3 glaze, but can run 4 of each during a rush, like now. So I need to move 61 pieces into the kilns every other day, which means I need to have the pieces assembled and drying about 48 hours in advance of bisque.
To keep that pace I need to assemble 61 pieces a day (hand builders). Right now I'm at 32 to 40 pieces per day assembled. My wheel potters out pace my hand builders and then switch over to hand building to clear the backlog.
1. How many cylinders should a potter with about 7 to 10 years in clay be able to throw in an hour?
Each cylinder uses approximately 2.75 lbs of clay
No handle attachment
Throws cylinder on small square bat, moves the bat and form to a shelf
Fills 12 forms per shelf
Cart hold 7 shelves
2. Each potter trims his / her own cylinders
Bottom of cylinder is flat, no foot cut into floor of cylinder
Lower sidewalls need to trimmed on about 1 out of 5 forms
Curved foot ring cut into sidewall at foot using rib template
Trimming generally occurs on day after throwing
Trimmed forms placed into damp box and transferred to hand building
1. How many mugs can a hand builder assemble in a hour / day?
Pulls empty shelf from drying rack and places on bench
Removes trimmed cylinders from damp box and places on bench
Shapes extrusions to form using jig / template
Rolls slabs for tiles in slab roller
Strikes slabs with die, and cuts tiles used as surface design
Attaches tile using slip / score technique
Attaches handle to cylinder using slip / score at upper / lower join
Cuts triangular thumb rest and attaches to top of handle using slip & score technique
Inspects work, cleans up crumbs, scratches, dents, canvass marks, etc.
Places assembled mug on shelf, completes 12, and returns shelf to drying rack
This is the process we use today. I understand there are lots of things we can do to improve the process, those suggestions would also be helpful. Yes, we could use a ram press, and we do plan to test one in the first quarter of next year, but right now I have to measure this process and need to know what is reasonable productivity?
The potters currently throw between 5 and 15 cylinders per hour when throwing and trim at about twice that rate. My feeling is this is low, but I don't know if that's a reasonable belief, and what is a reasonable expectation of performance?
The hand builders assemble from 3 to 5 mugs per hour. My feeling is this is very low, but again... Typically 2 or 3 mugs per hour is achieved when multiple tiles have to be attached to the mug. A rate of 4 or 5 mugs per hour is achieved when only a single tile is attached to the mug. Again, I lack experience in a multi-potter production environment and so I don't know if my thinking is accurate or in line with industry norms.
Hand builders perform extrusion tasks, slab rolling, and tile making tasks separate from assembly tasks.
Each position has studio maintenance responsibilities which affect daily production, but not hourly. Maintenance is generally conducted at end of shift and involves cleaning assigned work areas and common areas as part of ongoing dust abatement efforts. All up surfaces are wiped down, filters changed, floors mopped, HEPA vac, etc.
Your insights would be most helpful...