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Material flow and the feed drawer

If you start seeing a gradual decrease in the amount of material filling the mold box, don’t immediately increase your feed time. Stop the block machine in accordance with your safety policy and take a look at your feed drawer for buildup. When wet concrete builds up in the box due to hydration, your material flow can become restricted or clogged. For more information, contact Production Specialist Mike Maroney.

Runaway job orders 

A salesperson takes an order for 2,000 8″ split face units that are light tan in color. Having concerns about variability in the light tan color, the salesperson adds 5 percent to the order which bring the total number of units to be produced to 2,100. Either unknown or untrusted by the salesperson, the ordering system used has a built-in cull rate for that product and mix of 3 percent which effectively brings the number of units to be scheduled to a total of 2,163 units. At this point remember that the customer only needs 2,000 units and before the order has even been put on the schedule, the production order has increased by 8 percent. Two units are produced per cycle and placed in racks for curing which can hold 48 cycles which in turn means that scheduled order only needs 22 racks and 25 cycles to fill the order. The machine operator or plant manager decides to round up the rack requirement to 23 racks for just-in-case issues on the splitter, bringing the number of units produced to 2,208, an overall increase by the time curing starts to a total increase to the original customer’s needs by 10 percent.

Maybe there are some extremes here and maybe there aren’t, but the fact of the matter is that the example shows how easy it is to torpedo your own profit margin. When was the last time you went over the order process with not only your sales team, but also your plant personnel? For more information on capturing true costs, please contact Mike Maroney.

Time to check your curing temps 

Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner and will usher in barbecues, summer vacations and warmer weather. With warmer weather coming, please remember to take the time to check your temperature setting on your curing systems. More often than not, producers will run winter and summer settings on their systems, and if they’re not managed, there is potential for shocking your units and ending a production run. For more information, contact Production Specialist Mike Maroney.

Block machine height gauges 

Ben Franklin once stated that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I’d add that there is nothing in a block operation that is so insignificant that it would be excluded; take for instance wet side height gauges. We’ve all seen them on the manufacturing line, thin flat rectangular sheets of metal with a handle in the center with the machine operator deftly moving it around the perimeter of the machine pallet checking the cycle height. It’s a simple tool that provides a level of comfort that heights have been maintained during the wet side production. They are a quick indicator, which can be used without stopping the line. Contrary to belief, the gauges can get worn down, and the units may need to be built back up to the necessary height. Set an easy to remember time to pull all the gauges to verify that they’re reading the correct height, like when you’re having your scales calibrated or during your monthly block machine preventative maintenance routine. For more information contact NCMA Production Specialist Mike Maroney.