The Slope of One: Here's How Now!

Overall, the strategy is comprised of three elements: disinfection; productivity enhancements; compliance (enthusiasm).

 

Science is commonly invoked in defense of one or another point of view during the epidemic, and all three elements are indeed based on Science.  However, it is well-known that what is often called “settled science” is subject to reconsideration.  A vital aspect of Slope of One (“So1”) is staying informed, and TRP will notify clients of fresh guidance as it becomes necessary. 

 

Moreover, while these basic guidelines are meant to demonstrate some of the specific ideas contained in So1, applicability and application at your particular plant is subject to both the on-site conditions AND the value-added choices you make.  There are frequently multiple competing ways to address a problem.

 

  • Disinfection – discussion centers on air and on surfaces

    • Air – An early assumption had been that SARS-Cov-19 infection occurs principally through direct person-to-person transmission via large droplets. The imposition of six-foot social distancing or masks was based on such a model.  More recently, it has been hypothesized that there are additional transmission vectors, notably droplets of a smaller size, dubbed aerosols, that waft in the air, carried by currents. 

      • Consequently, a So1 goal is to inhibit both forms of transmission.  One method is by the application of an air curtain, implemented by inexpensive fans located between individuals.  These fans force air away from the individuals, directing it either to exhaust, when available, or to a decontamination module such as an air purifier or a UVC illumination area. 

      • Examples abound.  A packaging line is a principal area of concern; but so, too, is any high-traffic area where active workers may find themselves crisscrossing near one another.  A forklift driver, sitting a few feet above someone he’s speaking with may reduce his flow of droplets with a simple battery-operated fan located next to him.  A worker situated near an HVAC return vent might be safer moving away – or taking further precautions – since aerosols are likely being carried.

    • Surfaces – Air may be the primary agent for infection, but much has been made about surface contamination – as witnessed by the frequent demand for “disinfecting crews” after a known Covid-19 case occurs. 

      • The use of electrosprays may disinfect the area, rendering it non-infectious, but for how long? 

      • Alternative methods such as safe and proper use of Ozone are very cost-effective.  Under consideration right now is hydroxyl, a potent sterilizer shown to be non-toxic to people.

      • Furthermore, packages – and even clothing – entering and leaving the factory are subject to contamination.  Safe, simple methods of adapting Ozone, Hydroxl or UVC in cabinets are direct ways to eliminate this concern.

  • Productivity – discussion centers on methods for upgrading production.  Many legacy manufacturers have been reluctant to address cost-effective Cloud-based tools, dismissing them as “complicated”, “not secure” or “expensive.”  So1 offers specific guidance where advances that clearly go to the bottom line can be introduced and implemented in a matter of hours.  In the world of analytics, similar statements can be made about large factories, as well, with So1 strategies ready to assist.

    • “Suitcase Packages” – These are portable modules that are designed to be demonstrable on a conference room table and then installed on-line, collecting data, later that same day.  The first one connects to sensors already in place (or provides a means to add sensors) and then collect real-time data.  The second one, an optical analyzer, couples directly to product flow-streams, sensing properties of the material.  Both immediately send data safely to the Cloud where it is processed and made available for decision-making.

    •  “Virtual Participation” – appears, at first glance, to be video conferencing.  But, So1 creatively intertwines multiple commercially available tools to enable a remote viewer, observing a factory, to participate as though present on-site.  With the opportunity for multiple streams of video, real-time data, image, and possible instant-access to supervisors and additional experts, the outside observer is fully equipped.  Though off-site and reducing worker-density, this active participant

      • contributes expertise – supervising an installation, directing repairs and maintenance, advising on next steps;

      • or judges and evaluates - an active procedure either as a client of the factory or as a customer checking out a product

    • “Advanced Analytics” – Many factories, especially those part of larger corporations already have a significant investment in real-time data acquisition.  So1 speaks to these entities with a recommendation to reduce the cycle time for detecting root-cause problems; to find ways to adjust processes in real-time to attain maximum yield and to do these things without the need to hire specialized analytics specialists.  A product So1 teaches, TrendMiner, is effective in reducing costs and complexity very quickly.

 

  • Compliance (Enthusiasm) – discussion explores the everyone can win theme in the introductory, “Optimize, Never Compromise” section

    • An objective of So1 is the constant, in-your-face realization that both safety and productivity are always great concerns.  That understanding needs to translate into avoidance of unnecessary risks such as casual mask-removal or hesitation to do whatever is needed to get the job done.  In the first instance the worker must take responsibility for his own safety; in the second, he knows that management has done whatever is needed to assure safety – so the job can be done.  

    • However, the pandemic, despite claims to have established science, has generated deep-seated fears.  While, for example, an air-curtain redirecting breath away from people is clearly scientifically based, the risk from surface contamination is an example of an amalgam of science and fear.  Many individuals meticulously sanitize mail and packages at home; many even change clothes when they return from the outside.  A practitioner of Slope of One may choose to be thoughtful about the limits of pure science when trying to understand how the individuals in his plant evaluate the balance between safety and productivity. 

    • Similarly, tools to monitor a worker’s effectiveness that So1 can provide, may also be used as way for Plant Managers to get feedback on their own expectations.  In this example, a manager offers select workers a tablet with software that is Cloud-based.  The worker receives a list of specific tasks that are time-dependent, and which are provably done punctually by a time-stamped picture. 

      • On the one hand, this quick and simple time-based procedure may reassure the supervisor that the worker is effective.

      • But on the other hand, it can provide the supervisor with necessary feedback that too much is being asked, that under the circumstances, the worker is over-burdened.

      • An additional feature in this So1 tool is the ability of the application to contact the supervisor when there is an urgent problem, further offering the conscientious supervisor feedback on what is happening across the factory floor.

    • All of the Slope of One compliance/enthusiasm ideas are qualitative.  It is – and should be – at the discretion of you, the management to decide what to do in a proactive, cost-effective way to operate your factory.

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