Flexpipe Kaizen Tool


9 tips for a lean and secure plant after the COVID-19-imposed shutdown

9 tips for a lean and secure plant after the COVID-19-imposed shutdown

The time has come for many North American manufacturers to get back to work. The situation will obviously not be the same as it was before. Ways of doing things will have to be adjusted. In the coming weeks, plants will be implementing a host of new measures to comply with new government rules, particularly in terms of health and safety. If this is the case for your company, here are nine tips, based on the principles of continuous improvement (lean manufacturing) that will help you prepare for a safe return to work.

 

 
1– Distancing your employees from each other
It's not always easy to maintain the physical distance of two metres on an assembly line. Employees often work very close to each other and have little room to manoeuvre.

By using modular aluminium panels or those manufactured by Flexpipe, these new physical constraints can be more easily met. For example, you can add acrylic panels between employees working opposite each other or a tubular panel, with an acrylic interior, for employees working side by side. Acrylic is currently hard to find; you can therefore also hang mica canvases with eyelets on your structure or workstation that are attached to a steel or tubular frame.

In the event that you cannot modify your existing workstation, install large panels, either wheeled or fixed, between employees instead. Flexpipe offers several such modular panels. Why should you choose Flexpipe? You can take them down and reuse them to make a cart, for example, when the pandemic subsides.

[caption id="attachment_18908" align="alignnone" width="814"] Here are dividing panels for working side by side[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_18938" align="alignnone" width="814"] Here are dividing panels for face to face work.[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_18887" align="alignnone" width="814"] Here is a separator panel that will help create a distance between employees.[/caption]

 
2– Transforming your equipment into mobile units
Are your workstations and equipment on wheels? If they are not, take advantage of the current context to install them. It is an inexpensive investment that helps you increase the mobility of your work environment so that you can more easily comply with the rules of physical distancing. There are also various braking systems, such as foot brakes or total locks, to stabilize workstations.

For example, at Flexpipe, we have relocated part of the staff in our building reserved for assembly to our warehouse. This operation, aimed at reducing contact between employees, was simple to carry out since all our workstations are equipped with four- to six-swivel wheels.

[caption id="attachment_19443" align="alignnone" width="814"] Point of use tooling (POUT) with 4 swivels caster with total lock brake[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_19449" align="alignnone" width="814"] Steel Tool cabinet that was put on caster[/caption]
3– Strengthening your 5S program
Even though 5S can increase productivity and reduce the risk of accidents, it will also be very useful when disinfecting work tools.

By using the 5S program, you will clean up your workstations to leave only the tools your workforce uses regularly. For example, at Flexpipe, an employee disinfects work tools, but also door handles and kitchen equipment three times a day. Thanks to the 5S program, our disinfection manager is much more efficient because he does not waste time disinfecting unused tools.

Already have a 5S program in place? Remind your staff about the importance of being rigorous, especially during a pandemic.

[caption id="attachment_19453" align="alignnone" width="814"] The 5S system facilitates the disinfection of workstations.[/caption]

See how the facilitators of hygiene measures apply in the medical sector.
4– Reviewing your work procedures and standards
While your plant is reopening, why not take advantage to review your work procedures and standards in order to avoid, as much as possible, the sharing of tools and equipment? In addition to improving your processes, you will provide a safer environment for your employees.

Over the next few weeks, you may have to operate with limited staff. If you have never done so, don't hesitate to reassign one of your temporarily laid-off employees to update your work procedures and standards, especially if you are eligible for government assistance for businesses.

5– Using visual cues
Visual cues are quick and easy to set up. Using different coloured tape, draw lines on the ground to clearly delineate the corridors and different work areas in your plant. For example, at Flexpipe, we have created one-way corridors to prevent people from crossing each other.

Don't hesitate to use vinyl that sticks to the floor to clearly mark the two-metre distance your staff must respect, especially in busy areas such as the cafeteria.
6– Managing the flow of materials to work cells
Consider identifying the materials, raw materials, work in process, and finished products within each work cell in your plant to limit contact between your employees and other stakeholders.

For example, use flow racks for your hardware parts. With this system, the inventory handler brings the parts to the back and the assembler takes them from the front, without any contact between the two.

Apply the same principle to your shipments. Clearly define the area in which the products are to be picked up, at a certain distance from your workspace.

7– Limiting unnecessary travel
The pandemic is one of the best reasons to encourage your employees to stay at their workstations. Indeed, unnecessary movement and travel is one of the most important wastes in value-added production because it does not add value.

At Flexpipe, we have put in place a policy to reduce the number of people walking around the plant.

Our assemblers receive their parts from a single employee who goes around the workstations with a trolley. If, for any reason (defective part, lost part, etc.), one of our assemblers needs new parts, they must stay at their station and notify their supervisor. To avoid a recurrence, the employee is asked to describe as accurately as possible the problem they just encountered while waiting for the new parts. Once the problem has been described, another employee will take over the task of finding a solution to the problem.

 
8– Setting up POUTs for sanitary facilities
Like most factories, you have probably purchased sanitary equipment (gloves, masks, disinfectants, etc.). To improve efficiency, set up Points of Use Tooling (POUTs), which are small workstations in which sanitary equipment is neatly stored and easily accessible, at strategic points in your plant.

Use this opportunity to post the company's policies on COVID-19 at each POUT.

9– Deliver elevated quality standards right from the beginning
Production defects are one of the most common wastes in value-added production. Especially in the context of coronavirus, positively encourage your employees to do quality work right from the beginning.

Why should you do this? Because a poorly assembled part is manipulated by many employees who will try to discover the problem and fix it. In contrast, impeccable work involves fewer people and less travel. You will limit the risks of propagation, while increasing your productivity.

Post-Covid 19 protective structures

Post-Covid 19 protective structures

In the current crisis, companies must quickly adapt their production. Certain security measures will be necessary to ensure the protection of all employees. You will find in this page a panoply of protectives structures that want to be inspiring, simple to realize, and at a low price.

Why buying Flexpipe in the pandemic situation?
The needs linked to Covid-19 being temporary, when the pandemic is over, it is very easy to dismantle the tubes and joints in order to transform them into other workstation designs and find them a second life! You'll find to types of structures below: the ready to assemble kits and inspirations for customized protective structures.
5 READY TO ASSEMBLE KITS
Typically, contagions are passed when individuals are within 6 feet of each other. Coughing and sneezing, which can introduce potentially contaminated droplets into the air, is one of the main ways COVID-19 is being spread. Here are 5 sneeze guards kits to protect your clients and employees.

- 48x72 Sneeze guard assembly kit  - 195$
- 36x72 Sneeze guard assembly kit - 175$
- 48x71 Sneeze wall assembly kit - 205$
- 32x32 Sneeze Screen assembly kit - 99$
- 20x30 1/2 Sneeze side assembly kit - 99$
Foot-pedal hand sanitizer dispenser - 170$

Take a look at all the kits

Watch the assembly video

 

 

How to recycle your Sneeze guard pipes and joints after the crisis (an example)

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CUSTOMIZED PROTECTION STRUCTURES
Protectives separators between production employees
Here are some customized inspirations. All of these ideas are adaptable. Our strength is tailor-made! Send us the required dimensions and we will assist you in the preparation of your project.

We can design for you quickly.
We can pre-cut and send you kits.
We can pre-assembled structures and deliver turn-key projects.
We make mass production that can be put into rapid action.

DOWNLOAD ALL COVID-19 PROTECTION STRUCTURE HERE
Line guard: download this plan

Assembly line dividers and protectors
Sneeze guard: download this plan

Sneeze guard: download this plan

Portable sneezeguards on casters with brakes.
Sneeze guard: download this plan

The next picture was sent by one of our favorite people in the Flexpipe Community! Jason Blain from Winpak who shared with us his brand new installation: sneeze guards that allow the workers to keep going in security.

And as he said, it was ''built while they were working and installed while they were on lunch. A fast but an effective build.'' Quick and simple!

Sneeze screen 32x32: download this plan

Sneeze wall: download this plan

Sneeze wall: download this plan

 

Employee / customer protection or for office workers
Sneeze screen 32x32: download this plan

Sneeze screen 32x32: download this plan

 
Cleaning and disinfection station

Handwashing station: download this plan

Hand sanitizer rack: download this plan

 

LET US KNOW IF YOU IF YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC REQUIREMENT - WE WILL GET BACK TO YOU IN 24 HOURS.

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____________________________________________________________________________

WHAT CAN FLEXPIPE DO TO OPTIMIZE YOUR PLANT EFFICIENCY?

Flexpipe Modular materials handling systems can help you with implementing continuous improvement principles. Your team’s creativity can result in a 10% increase in productivity per year. It has been a proven system for more than 50 years now.

Pipe and joint system for medical equipment

Pipe and joint system for medical equipment

Here are examples of how medical manufacturers use the pipe and joint system for lean manufacturing. Below are several photos of various workstations: U and L-shaped work cells and one-piece flow assembly line, among others.

 

 

Manufacturers also use pipe and joint systems to build carts for different purposes: WIP, kitting cart, sub-assembly, etc. The structural system can also be used to build custom flow racks and 2-bin systems than can be integrated into the workstations.

10 tips to reduce change resistance when introducing lean manufacturing

10 tips to reduce change resistance when introducing lean manufacturing

If you're thinking of introducing lean manufacturing on the shop floor you may have noticed that some production employees are hesitant to shift their habits. For example, they may say that their way of doing things has always generated good results or that the proposed modifications don't apply to their current situation. Rest assured, your predicament is common. Most businesses in the manufacturing sector have faced this problem at one time or another. Thankfully, there are many methods to overcome resistance to change.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

1 – Explain the reasons behind the change

Begin by stating the motive(s) for the transition to your team. Some ideas could be to be more competitive, to face growing demand or to serve your customers better. However, avoid basing your explanations solely on profitability. If the proposed changes are purely for financial reasons, you risk not getting everyone on board.
2 – Call upon an external training facilitator

Before beginning the Lean training process, plan to have the appropriate resources. Smaller businesses often retain the services of an external instructor. In the eyes of the staff, he can lend credibility to the process thanks to his professional expertise.

If you do use an external consultant, be sure the person overseeing the Lean process within your organization (the Lean sensei) works with the trainer to provide insight into the company’s situation. The sensei can also guide the consultant’s presentation and play a part in the discussions.
3 – Provide Basic Lean training to all personnel
[caption id="attachment_17846" align="alignnone" width="814"] Flexpipe assist to training while visiting an Adidas Plant in China.[/caption]

 

Before engaging in Lean practices, your employees will need to receive basic training on the Lean culture to understand it and speak its unique language. At the end of the process, they should be familiar with founding principles such as 5S and various types of wastes, and knowing what added value does and doesn't consist of.

To win over those who are most reticent, trainers can show testimonials, pictures and videos of companies who have gone through Lean changes. Doing so is a lighter and more user-friendly means of convincing instead of text-heavy presentations that don't always engage those in attendance.
4 – Visit other plants and speak with their employees
[caption id="attachment_17840" align="alignnone" width="814"] Flexpipe visited Lumenpulse in Longueil, Québec.[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_17843" align="alignnone" width="814"] Flexpipe visited Lumenpulse in Longueil, Québec.[/caption]

To convince employees of the benefits of the upcoming changes, suggest that they visit non-competitive plants, which recently undertook the same process as yours. If there is no one you can contact, search on LinkedIn or call organizations that do tours in Lean facilities, such as the Association for Manufacturing Excellence, the Gemba Academy, the Lean Enterprise Institute or the Mouvement Québécois de la qualité.

While it may be challenging to get employees on-site, those who do go will become your most valued spokespeople. Why? Because they will have seen the transformation for themselves and, most importantly, talked with employees who carry out similar tasks. The latter will be able to explain how they experienced the change and the advantages of working in a Lean environment. Such discussions can reassure those who are particularly hesitant regarding the proposed adjustments.

Our team at Flexpipe recently toured the BRP snowmobile plant. After the visit, our 5 production team leaders exclaimed, “Wow, the production floor is open, airy and clean. We would love to work in an environment like this.”
5 – Start with small, simple changes
[caption id="attachment_17858" align="alignnone" width="814"] Employees are showing their simple and resourceful self-constructed Shadow Board[/caption]

To show the physical benefits of the ongoing change, choose a high-visibility work cell which will serve as a model. This space will be the designated location to implement your first projects.

Avoid beginning with lengthy, costly and complicated undertakings. Instead, make small tweaks with a big payoff, such as improving a substandard workstation. Once you’ve finished your first project, ask your employees to examine the issue that has been solved—they’ll have the proof right before their eyes.

Starting small means you’ll be able to show the results to your team quickly and reduce the risk of failure.
6 – Ask employees to pitch ideas
[caption id="attachment_17834" align="alignnone" width="814"] Improvement Submission Board at Flexpipe.[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_18007" align="alignnone" width="814"] Improvement Submissions with a visual explanation.[/caption]

Getting employees involved is the surest way to overcome resistance to change—even if you provide Lean training. You will need to make them understand that the ownership of the transformations doesn't solely rely on 1 or 2 people; instead, it’s company-wide ownership. That way, a Lean culture will permeate all echelons of the business.

One of the best ways to have team members participate in the transition is to gather their ideas by using a suggestion box or board. Your supervisors and those spearheading the improvement process can also help employees make recommendations on an ongoing basis.

Responding to all suggestions quickly is a solid approach to show that you open to change and innovation.
7 – Encourage employees to plan the entire project

While having ideas is undoubtedly a good thing, it’s even better to explore them. Encourage employees to lend a hand in crafting the solution by having them sketch out a problematic element in their environment and what could correct it.

If needed, the person leading the improvement process can help the staff realize and refine their ideas. Additionally, he could suggest a brainstorm session among team members to generate further options.
8 – Ask employees to help implement an idea

Once you’ve collected the various concepts and encouraged employees to play a role in devising the solution, why not ask them to continue the creation process, by, for example, having them design their new lean manufacturing workstation? Besides feeling proud of his accomplishment, an employee can improve upon his workstation again in the future according to the company’s unique requirements, when need be.

One way to make ideas come to life more efficiently is to have tools and necessary materials on hand. A moonshine shop can be an exciting option to provide a creative setting.
9 – Celebrate the victories—and the defeats—resulting from the change

[caption id="attachment_17864" align="alignnone" width="814"] All the Flexpipe employees at the MPA Trade Show in Montreal.[/caption]

Your organization should celebrate both the highs and lows related to the change process. Some businesses offer a reward such as t-shirts, corporate items or gift cards to participants. The gifts need not be expensive; they’re meant to recognize the employees’ efforts and encourage them to continue the Lean transformation endeavour.
10 – Keeping flexibility and agility in mind while recruiting
Even with the best intentions, sometimes it’s difficult to overcome resistance to change in some employees. When recruiting, make sure to emphasize flexibility and agility. Ask candidates to give you examples of changes they’ve gone through in past jobs and how they reacted to it—beware of those with a hardline stance or who seem insincere.

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WHAT CAN FLEXPIPE DO TO OPTIMIZE YOUR PLANT EFFICIENCY?

Flexpipe Modular industrial pipe racking system can help you with implementing continuous improvement principles. Your team’s creativity can result in a 10% increase in productivity per year. It has been a proven system for more than 50 years now.

10 things to know about moonshine shops

10 things to know about moonshine shops

Contrary to popular belief, innovation isn’t always the result of a costly and laborious process. Sometimes, a little imagination and resourcefulness are all it takes to solve recurring problems. The moonshine shop, a corporate continuous improvement concept, is part of a new trend built around that notion. Here are 10 things you may not know about this increasingly popular practice.

Download your printable PDF Moonshine shop checklist
Ready to start your own Moonshine Shop? Order the parts online.

 

1 - Moonshine shops were inspired by Prohibition
During the Prohibition era, from 1919 to 1933, Americans got creative and started making their own alcohol, often at night by the light of the moon, from whatever materials and food (fruit, vegetables, etc.) they had on hand. This illegal liquor was dubbed “moonshine.”
2 - Toyota, a continuous improvement pioneer
[caption id="attachment_16683" align="alignnone" width="814"] Credit: www.thedrive.com[/caption]

Without Toyota, the moonshine shop would probably never have come about. From 1948 to 1975, the automotive giant developed the famous Toyota Production System (TPS), a corporate philosophy that sought to find the most efficient production methods while eliminating waste.

Associated with what’s known in North America as “lean manufacturing,” TPS has inspired a variety of related concepts. Chihiro Nakao, founder of the Shingijutsu Company and a former Toyota employee, used TPS as a springboard to develop the moonshine shop.

 
3 - Failure is part of the process
In a moonshine shop, employees use simple and inexpensive materials to find solutions to problems they encounter in their day-to-day work. Using affordable materials means fewer budget constraints and lets employees give free rein to their creativity.

What’s more, that creativity isn’t hindered by a fear of failure. Quite the opposite—failure is a normal part of the creative process. For instance, if employees in a moonshine shop design an inefficient forklift, they don’t need to be afraid of being reprimanded by their superiors for wasting valuable company resources. They just roll up their sleeves and find a way to make it better. Among the strategies they might use are protostorming and trystorming, which make it easy to quickly create simple physical prototypes.

4 - Working together to find solutions is the biggest advantage

One of the main advantages of the moonshine shop is how fast you can implement improvements. For example, if an employee regularly performs a non-ergonomic movement, they can report the problem to the moonshine shop manager.

Instead of calling a subcontractor and waiting months for them to come and adjust the employee’s workstation, the manager (often called the “lean sensei”) can quickly come up with and implement a solution. The employee will be happy and feel like the company actually cares about them. This will encourage them to contribute other ideas, helping foster a culture of innovation within the company.

 
5 - Moonshine shops foster innovation

If you’re already using other concepts to improve and optimize corporate processes and productivity, such as protostorming, trystorming, kaizen, karakuri, or the 5S method, you’ll be happy to know that a moonshine shop is fully compatible with and complementary to these concepts.

 
6 - Suitable for any company

Simple to set up, moonshine shops aren’t just for multinationals like Toyota. Small- and medium-sized companies can also reap the benefits.

At Flexpipe, for instance, employees who want to cut down on physical waste can use a board. Using sketches, they first describe the current situation and then propose a solution. Once they are finished, the Continuous Improvement Committee, composed of four or five people, evaluates their proposal.

If the solution is approved, several employees are released from their regular duties to work in the moonshine shop. Using basic tools (saw, measuring tape, Allen wrenches, worktable, storage unit, etc.) and other materials, such as Flexpipe pipes and joints, wheels, and magnets, they make the solution proposed by their coworkers.

 
7 – Maintenance is not moonshine
Your company probably has a department that deals with everyday issues at the plant. These experts monitor, control, and maintain the equipment on a regular basis to avoid breakdowns that could affect productivity. Although the moonshine shop shares this same principle, it has a different goal.

Instead of performing corrective and preventive maintenance, moonshine shop employees focus on continuously improving corporate processes. Rather than simply repairing a damaged workstation, they find ways to improve it so that it is out of service less often.

 
8 – Support from management is essential
Even with the best intentions in the world, a moonshine shop cannot be effective without constant and unwavering support from management. Senior management should keep in mind that employees assigned to this department will inevitably make mistakes and possibly “waste” company time and resources.

What’s more, although a moonshine shop is inexpensive to set up, it needs an operating budget and a certain degree of structure. It also needs a manager to serve as the go-between for employees and management, to ensure, among other things, that projects are running smoothly.

 
9 – Ideally, employees should receive value-added management training

Since the moonshine shop is a tool for implementing value-added production initiatives, there must already be a value-added management culture within the company. It’s better if your employees, especially the moonshine shop manager, have received prior training in value-added management and its related concepts, such as protostorming and trystorming. They should also be familiar with the eight wastes and the 5S method. Once trained, employees can take full advantage of a moonshine shop.

 
10 – A moonshine shop doesn’t have to take up a lot of space

To set up an efficient and productive moonshine shop, you need a dedicated space at the plant, equipped with basic tools and materials. For example, some companies have a moonshine shop right in the middle of their facility so that employees can see innovative work taking place in real time.

But some small businesses feel they don’t have the space to set up this kind of initiative. If this is the case for you, you should know that there are lots of different solutions, such as folding units, that let you set up a moonshine shop in a relatively small space.

In short, there’s no excuse for not setting up a moonshine shop at your company. After all, continuous improvement is a collective responsibility!



How shadow boards help you be more competitive

How shadow boards help you be more competitive

https://www.flexpipeinc.com/ca_en/structure/cart/As a manufacturer, one of your main advantages is to eliminate wastes, in other words, actions that are unnecessary and provide no added value. Shadow boards are an excellent means of implementing continuous improvement principles because their purpose is to eliminate the 8 manufacturing wastes. This article will give you tips on how to sort your tools and create order so you can efficiently carry out daily tasks, regardless of the nature of your work.

According to the 5 S method
According to the 5S method, shadow boards are commonly used to visually manage tools that are frequently utilized during the day. It's a very appealing approach as you can apply it to almost any environment!
A shadow board is a visual method of stocking items by means of a filled-in contour of every one of them in a colored backdrop to show where the tool should be put back after eachuse.

It's in the second S: SET IN ORDER or "Seiton" in Japanese, that the shadow boards come in. The exact meaning of this terme is to lay out all objects and put each one in its place. Establishing a designated location for every tool or piece of equipment will help you find what you need when you need it.

Download the PDF version of our 5S method chart.
 

A place for everything and everything in its place
You can increase efficiency by significantly reducing wastes that provide no added value, such as time lost looking for a screwdriver a broom or a pair of scissors.
Good to know - For optimal visual management of your tools and parts, here are the 3 essential elements of a shadow board:

ID tag
Color code
Tool's shadow

Typically, a pegboard is the shadow board's foundation on which is painted the contour or shadow of the item to be hooked on the board. Shadow boards are an efficient way to create a visual impact thanks to the colored background. You can put tools or production items on them, such as dies or prototypes, for example.

 
The shadow board above is a kitting cart that one of our customers uses with its supplier to avoid overpackaging and waste materials on the production line.

By sending these boxes back to the supplier, the latter can simply insert all the items ordered by the customer in them again without having to restock packaging materials himself.

In addition to being environmentally friendly, this method prevents the supplier from forgetting any items and makes order prep easier. the colorcoding calls attention to missing parts.
 
Make your own shadow board

3 simples steps to build a shadow board to meet your needs
This section of the article will provide you with tips as well as steps involved in building the type of shadow board that will be most effective and profitable for your business needs.

Step 1 - decide which tools you need
First, gather all your tools to decide which ones will go on the shadow board. To help you choose those needed to carry out your tasks, think of the setting in a hospital's operating room. A surgeon should never have more than what is required to operate on the patient nor have to hunt around for a specific scalpel!

Tip : If you have trouble figuring out what you use in a typical workday, put in a box all the tools and parts that you utilize as the day progresses. As such, you'll have a better idea of what's essential in your workstation.

To avoid unnecessary steps, you should always position your tools as close as possible in your workstation. Normally, these would correspond to those which you use within the hour or during the workday. In an office setting, the same principle applies: Items that are regularly utilized should be placed on the desk.
Use this chart to decide if the tool in question should go on a shadow board or not.

Step 2 - decide on the type of panel and its location
Once you've decided on the tools that should be within reach, now it's time to choose the material. The number of items and the shadow board's location are two determining factors at this step in the process.
Here are some examples of our customer's shadow boards as a source of inspiration. Some chose to use materials they already had on hand, while others opted for laser cut-outs in foam panels.

Photo credit: Trilogiq

Photo credit: Trilogiq
If this type of shadow board interests you, we highly recommend its manufacturer - who also happens to be one of our suppliers: OSAAP AMERICA.
This Maine-based company, in the US, produce boards made of various types of foam, most with laser cut-outs for added precision. Curious to see how they do it? Take a look.
 
Types of pegboard
MASONITE
Masonite pegboards are the most common on the market. They can generally be found in hardware stores or home improvement big-box stores. The panels are available at low cost and have either 1/8-inch holes or 1/4-inch holes for more robust use.
Masonite panels are not intended to hold heavy tools, such as drills. Doing so would cause the panel to warp and eventually rip. Also, with time, the holes in the panels can sustain damage from frequent hook changes.

The image below shows various types of hooks that you can use to hang your tools

Photo credit: Triton Products
Tip: At Flexpipe, we simply use screws with bolts for added strength.
 

METAL
Long-lasting, metal is easy to clean and is one of the most solid materials on the market. It also gives the pegboard a stylish look. It's worth keeping in mind that metal boards are the most expensive option and their weight makes them difficult to buy in larger sizes.
Additionally, if the air is humid, be sure to use stainless steel to avoid rusting issues. Finally, remember that metal conducts electricity, so take precautionary measures to provide your employees with a safe work environment.

 

ACRYLIC
Plastic or polymer acrylic pegboards offer unparalleled versatility and reliability. They aremuch lighter than their Masonite and metal counterparts.
Their durability is unbeatable, given that they are rustproof, will not crack or warp. This type of board can withstand heavy loads.

Each type of material has its advantages and drawbacks; evaluate them all to find the best for your needs.

You can also make your shadow boards out of foam if, for example, you need to store or handle fragile parts a production line. You'll notice that most of these shadow boards are placed on a wheel-mounted cart or rack.
If you decide to build a foam shadow board, there are several grades of foam from which to choose. On the other hand, the more the foam is porous, the more difficult it will be to cut, as Ethafoam for example. There are greater risks of it disintegrating where the knife penetrated it, consequently shortening its life span.
Type-A foam panels, such as Crosslink, are of better quality thanks to their high density. This type of foam will protect fragile parts more effectively.
You can also use materials you already have on hand in your plant to build your shadow board. Some of our customers used MDF panels, whereas others decided on steel panels. A little creativity mixed with a desire to reuse existing materials can give pretty impressive results!
Tip: Regardless the type of material you choose for the shadow board, we suggest dividing it into sections. It will be much easier to alter only a portion of the entire board, instead of the whole thing, should you have to move tools around.
 
Step 3 - draw the outline of your tools
To begin, set your tools on the panel to use up space in the most optimal way. This task may be painstaking as you'll have to try a few configurations before finding the ideal one.

Be sure to properly align all tools. We recommend grouping them by families: adjustable wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers, drill bits, etc. After, draw the tools' outlines at their designated location on the panel.
To conclude, all that's left to do is to place the hooks and hang your tools. Take a picture of the final product and show your project to the rest of the team so everyone can use this work method!
 
Benefits of using a shadow board
In short, implementing the 5S system will have a positive effect on your operations, such as:

Reduced costs as you'll only use the tools and material that are necessary
Improved quality
A more secure work environment
Increased productivity
Increased employee satisfaction regarding their designated tasks

Wether the shadow board is in an office setting or for workstations in the production line, everyone will come out a winner. Don't wait another second before trying one!

How shadow boards help you be more competitive

How shadow boards help you be more competitive

As a manufacturer, one of your main advantages is to eliminate wastes, in other words, actions that are unnecessary and provide no added value. Shadow boards are an excellent means of implementing continuous improvement principles because their purpose is to eliminate the 8 manufacturing wastes. This article will give you tips on how to sort your tools and create order so you can efficiently carry out daily tasks, regardless of the nature of your work.

According to the 5 S method
According to the 5S method, shadow boards are commonly used to visually manage tools that are frequently utilized during the day. It's a very appealing approach as you can apply it to almost any environment!
A shadow board is a visual method of stocking items by means of a filled-in contour of every one of them in a colored backdrop to show where the tool should be put back after eachuse.

It's in the second S: SET IN ORDER or "Seiton" in Japanese, that the shadow boards come in. The exact meaning of this terme is to lay out all objects and put each one in its place. Establishing a designated location for every tool or piece of equipment will help you find what you need when you need it.

Download the PDF version of our 5S method chart.
 

A place for everything and everything in its place
You can increase efficiency by significantly reducing wastes that provide no added value, such as time lost looking for a screwdriver a broom or a pair of scissors.
Good to know - For optimal visual management of your tools and parts, here are the 3 essential elements of a shadow board:

ID tag
Color code
Tool's shadow

Typically, a pegboard is the shadow board's foundation on which is painted the contour or shadow of the item to be hooked on the board. Shadow boards are an efficient way to create a visual impact thanks to the colored background. You can put tools or production items on them, such as dies or prototypes, for example.

 
The shadow board above is a kitting cart that one of our customers uses with its supplier to avoid overpackaging and waste materials on the production line.

By sending these boxes back to the supplier, the latter can simply insert all the items ordered by the customer in them again without having to restock packaging materials himself.

In addition to being environmentally friendly, this method prevents the supplier from forgetting any items and makes order prep easier. the colorcoding calls attention to missing parts.
 
Make your own shadow board

3 simples steps to build a shadow board to meet your needs
This section of the article will provide you with tips as well as steps involved in building the type of shadow board that will be most effective and profitable for your business needs.

Step 1 - decide which tools you need
First, gather all your tools to decide which ones will go on the shadow board. To help you choose those needed to carry out your tasks, think of the setting in a hospital's operating room. A surgeon should never have more than what is required to operate on the patient nor have to hunt around for a specific scalpel!

Tip : If you have trouble figuring out what you use in a typical workday, put in a box all the tools and parts that you utilize as the day progresses. As such, you'll have a better idea of what's essential in your workstation.

To avoid unnecessary steps, you should always position your tools as close as possible in your workstation. Normally, these would correspond to those which you use within the hour or during the workday. In an office setting, the same principle applies: Items that are regularly utilized should be placed on the desk.
Use this chart to decide if the tool in question should go on a shadow board or not.

Step 2 - decide on the type of panel and its location
Once you've decided on the tools that should be within reach, now it's time to choose the material. The number of items and the shadow board's location are two determining factors at this step in the process.
Here are some examples of our customer's shadow boards as a source of inspiration. Some chose to use materials they already had on hand, while others opted for laser cut-outs in foam panels.

Photo credit: Trilogiq

Photo credit: Trilogiq
If this type of shadow board interests you, we highly recommend its manufacturer - who also happens to be one of our suppliers: OSAAP AMERICA.
This Maine-based company, in the US, produce boards made of various types of foam, most with laser cut-outs for added precision. Curious to see how they do it? Take a look.
 
Types of pegboard
MASONITE
Masonite pegboards are the most common on the market. They can generally be found in hardware stores or home improvement big-box stores. The panels are available at low cost and have either 1/8-inch holes or 1/4-inch holes for more robust use.
Masonite panels are not intended to hold heavy tools, such as drills. Doing so would cause the panel to warp and eventually rip. Also, with time, the holes in the panels can sustain damage from frequent hook changes.

The image below shows various types of hooks that you can use to hang your tools

Photo credit: Triton Products
Tip: At Flexpipe, we simply use screws with bolts for added strength.
 

METAL
Long-lasting, metal is easy to clean and is one of the most solid materials on the market. It also gives the pegboard a stylish look. It's worth keeping in mind that metal boards are the most expensive option and their weight makes them difficult to buy in larger sizes.
Additionally, if the air is humid, be sure to use stainless steel to avoid rusting issues. Finally, remember that metal conducts electricity, so take precautionary measures to provide your employees with a safe work environment.

 

ACRYLIC
Plastic or polymer acrylic pegboards offer unparalleled versatility and reliability. They aremuch lighter than their Masonite and metal counterparts.
Their durability is unbeatable, given that they are rustproof, will not crack or warp. This type of board can withstand heavy loads.

Each type of material has its advantages and drawbacks; evaluate them all to find the best for your needs.

You can also make your shadow boards out of foam if, for example, you need to store or handle fragile parts a production line. You'll notice that most of these shadow boards are placed on a wheel-mounted cart or rack.
If you decide to build a foam shadow board, there are several grades of foam from which to choose. On the other hand, the more the foam is porous, the more difficult it will be to cut, as Ethafoam for example. There are greater risks of it disintegrating where the knife penetrated it, consequently shortening its life span.
Type-A foam panels, such as Crosslink, are of better quality thanks to their high density. This type of foam will protect fragile parts more effectively.
You can also use materials you already have on hand in your plant to build your shadow board. Some of our customers used MDF panels, whereas others decided on steel panels. A little creativity mixed with a desire to reuse existing materials can give pretty impressive results!
Tip: Regardless the type of material you choose for the shadow board, we suggest dividing it into sections. It will be much easier to alter only a portion of the entire board, instead of the whole thing, should you have to move tools around.
 
Step 3 - draw the outline of your tools
To begin, set your tools on the panel to use up space in the most optimal way. This task may be painstaking as you'll have to try a few configurations before finding the ideal one.

Be sure to properly align all tools. We recommend grouping them by families: adjustable wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers, drill bits, etc. After, draw the tools' outlines at their designated location on the panel.
To conclude, all that's left to do is to place the hooks and hang your tools. Take a picture of the final product and show your project to the rest of the team so everyone can use this work method!
 
Benefits of using a shadow board
In short, implementing the 5S system will have a positive effect on your operations, such as:

Reduced costs as you'll only use the tools and material that are necessary
Improved quality
A more secure work environment
Increased productivity
Increased employee satisfaction regarding their designated tasks

Wether the shadow board is in an office setting or for workstations in the production line, everyone will come out a winner. Don't wait another second before trying one!

How to do a 5S audit with your Smartphone

How to do a 5S audit with your Smartphone

You’re almost there: 5S principles have been implemented in all workstations and offices throughout the plant, and all employees have all the necessary tools to work efficiently and safely. The last step? Applying the 5th S, Sustain (Shitsuke in Japanese), recurrently. We have tested 5 applications for you that will help you accomplish this task.

 
5S, organization method of workstations
To put yourself in the situation, let's take a look at this table to get a better idea of ​​what are the 5S and where is the follow-up compared to 4 others. Click on the image to enlarge it and print it as needed.

Download the PDF versionof this table

 

 
The 5th S: sustain
The last S is often perceived as the hardest to apply, as it involves remaining steadfast in keeping up good practices. As such, it’s often the most neglected.

The process is akin to someone who decides to start training to get in shape. The person chooses the best way to reach their objectives, develops a plan, and acts on it. If the initial plan is not followed and the person derails from their objectives, the result (getting into shape) is compromised. As such, the “Sustain” step of the 5S calls upon self-discipline to continue good habits. Without this 5th pillar, the efficiency of the other S’s is reduced.
We tested 5 apps for you
To make the job easier for the manager who will guide each employee in evaluating their workstation, here are a few applications to help carry out the audit and the follow-up after the audit. They can be installed on a smartphone or tablet.

The mobile app is essential for a 5S audit. There are several available for iPhone or Android, and we have reviewed a few of them for you.
1- 5S Workspace Audit by Tulip
Tulip offers a variety of tools that can scan data from your business’ production line. This development platform allows businesses to create specific versions of applications, including quality evaluation, 5S audits, primary cause analysis, and visual management.
(Visit their web site)

[caption id="attachment_14866" align="alignnone" width="1920"] (Source: Tulip https://tulip.co/app/5s-workspace-audit/)[/caption]

Tulip offers a variety of tools that can scan data from your business’ production line. This development platform allows businesses to create specific versions of applications, including quality evaluation, 5S audits, primary cause analysis, and visual management.

Here are the Tulip app’s features:

Create step-by-step instructions for your 5S audit that can be quickly followed by operators.
Incorporate pictures, videos, CAD and other multimedia to guide workers through the audit process.
Easily define interactive forms to standardize workstation organization.
Provide automatic scores for the audit and track progress over time.
Let operators and supervisors provide feedback within the apps.
Connect your audit apps with IoT sensors, such as temperature and humidity, to ensure the right working conditions are being met.
Monitor audit compliance by worker, team or area and visually track progress over time.
Through the “Connectors” feature, make action items visible to the entire team and track progress against the action items.

Source: Tulip (https://tulip.co/app/5s-workspace-audit/
2- Lean 5S App
(Visit their web site)

Source Appli Lean 5S: http://www.apilean.com/appli-lean-5s

The Lean 5S app is a question-and-answer based model where the answers are selected from world-renown best practices by lean manufacturing experts. The questions cannot be personalized with the app, contrary to the other apps we reviewed. The only way to do so is by mandating Lean 5S App to do it for you. The app is available in 4 languages: English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Here are the available options:

Carry out a 5S audit broken down in 5 groups of 5 questions, thus giving you 25 questions that will guide you in searching for improvement opportunities.
Follow the evolution in time of the audit’s result for a given perimeter
Get tips on how to do a chantier 5S
Configure auditors and perimeters
Filter past audits by perimeter, observer or date
Create a photo gallery relevant to the perimeter to see the evolution from a visual standpoint
Plan countermeasures with pilots and deadlines
Report gaps that have been immediately corrected
Set the time period you have available for the audit and be informed of the remaining time
Get an overall score of your 5S audit and a detailed score by group
Export your reports in PDF and .Fives formats
Import other 5S audits done on other devices in .Fives format
Send the audit in one click to pre-registered recipients
Read the audit in the language of choice

(Source Appli Lean 5S: http://www.apilean.com/appli-lean-5s/)
3- GoCanvas

(Visit their web site)

The GoCanvas app provides continuity of audits thereby ensuring consistency with regards to cleanliness, organization and efficiency in your work environment. GoCanvas audits adapt to all work sectors. This tool can help oversee the quality of your work environment, on a sustained and ongoing basis and a way for work teams adhere to established standards.

The apps for each audit type can be built very intuitively and do not require in-depth programming know-how. All you need to do is drag-and-drop the features you want in the app, and give them the desired shape (calculator, drop-down menu, checkboxes, barcode, calendar, photos, etc.). These features distinguish GoCanvas from the rest of the apps. Its customer service is also noteworthy.

 

Here are the app’s main features:

App builder
Image capture
Signature capture
Calculations
GPS
Barcode scanning
Mobile payments
Upload a database

(Source: https://www.gocanvas.com/mobile-forms-apps/2983-5S-Audit-Form)
Pricing: https://www.gocanvas.com/show_pricing_plans
4-  iAuditor - by SafetyCulture
At Flexpipe, we use iAuditor, which we consider to be among the best apps on the market. Its intuitive and adaptive interface can manage audits in other sectors, not only 5S audits. iAuditor also focuses on safety and inspections. You can prepare your audit model on iPad and subsequently use it on your smartphone. Several audit models are suggested in the app’s library.

Bye bye paper! You can write your notes directly in the app for each item evaluated.

[caption id="attachment_14845" align="alignnone" width="814"] Gabriel's workstation, assembler at Flexpipe, is evaluated by Remi, responsible of the continuous improvement.[/caption]

 

Rémi uses the app to document Gabriel's workstation and add photos to it.

Pictures of the workstation being evaluated can be taken in the app and linked to the element being evaluated. These pictures act as proof, and as a reference to instill discipline. They can also be used as illustrative purposes for the team when posted on information boards.

 

[caption id="attachment_14848" align="alignnone" width="814"] Workstation used by Gabriel, an assembler at Flexpipe[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_14851" align="alignnone" width="814"] Workstation used by Gabriel, an assembler at Flexpipe[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_14882" align="alignnone" width="814"] At Flexpipe, audits are also carried out on the first-aid station.[/caption]

Here are iAuditor’s features:

SMART FORMS: The drag and drop template builder makes it easy to create customized forms
INSPECTIONS: Complete inspections from anywhere on any mobile or tablet device
WORKFLOWS: Build workflows to manage your inspection and reporting procedures
REPORTING & ANALYTICS: Detailed inspection reports to get insights and fix problems faster
INTEGRATIONS: Connect iAuditor to your business software systems
SITESNEW: Know how your sites are performing in real-time.

Once the audit is finished, the app produces a report which can be quickly sent by email or printed for use at a later date.

Download a 5S audit report done at Flexpipe
The perception of a 5S audit
Managers have much to gain by promoting a positive image of a 5S audit. It’s not a question of a verification; instead, it’s more about ensuring that existing standards are respected. It must be perceived as a way to make the employee’s work easier.

[caption id="attachment_14857" align="alignnone" width="814"] This workstation was cleaned after a Kaizen at Flexpipe.[/caption]

We sat down with Éric, who is a team leader and assembler at Flexpipe. After receiving training on 5S principles, audits now make perfect sense to him. He actively participated in standardizing workstations. The efficiency he gained following the standardization process translated into a significant reduction of production time. Where he once walked between 5 and 6 km per day on the production floor, that number is now between 3 and 3.5 km. Also, given that there is less handling to do, the risk of injury has decreased. He is convinced that audits are necessary so that the benefits keep paying off following the changes.

[caption id="attachment_14860" align="alignnone" width="814"] Éric, team leader and assembler at his Flexpipe workstation[/caption]

Éric concludes by saying: “In the spur of the moment, we tend to choose the easy way out. It’s easy to stray from the standardization that was implemented and revert to old habits. In the end, it’s a losing proposition. Audits are a way of reminding us of this.”

The lack of discipline and rigor come at a high price for manufacturing companies. Material that is only used occasionally is, ultimately, an unnecessary expense. Furthermore, work-related accidents are insurance costly. One can conclude that the benefits of upholding standards are measured in dollars, energy spent, space occupied, and are, as a result, not negligible.

When should I draw with CAD or do a freehand sketch?

When should I draw with CAD or do a freehand sketch?

https://www.flexpipeinc.com/ca_en/structure/cart/Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Is training your staff to use 3D CAD software to design a structure necessary for all your projects? In our opinion, absolutely not! Depending on the complexity of the required structure, a freehand sketch may be faster than a computer drawing with CAD software. Read on to know when to design a structure using CAD software versus simply doing a freehand sketch.

At Flexpipe, when we need a structure for internal use, we draw by hand instead of using CAD. When we say this to clients that are using 3D CAD software, they are quite surprised!

First, we carry out some “try-storming” with sketches, and, once tested and approved, we do reverse engineering and create a 3D design. This way, we speed up the process considerably rather than waiting for the design department to model a structure that we’re not 100% quite sure will work.

In 90% of cases, you’ll want to change and improve the initial concept after just 1 day of use. A pipe and joint system will allow you to tweak and fine-tune the structure easily. If you make the design process longer, you’ll end up wiping out the quick improvement advantage of the product.

In some cases, a CAD design is just not what the situation calls for.

With these wise words in mind, “Problem in the morning, solution in the afternoon”, we’d rather waste a few pipes and joints on a quick structural test rather than spend a long time thinking of the ideal design in front of a computer. Our motto is “Fail fast – Learn fast – Improve fast!”

Benefits of freehand sketching
One of the major benefits is that freehand sketching is a simple solution that requires only a few types of equipment. There’s no need for software or computer or special skills that require you to be in an office setting. You can draw the sketch where the action is taking place and with the people who are most impacted by the structure.

Here are other benefits of doing your project design on paper instead of using a computer software:

Lower development costs: a CAD drawing can get expensive as each drawing requires an average of 5 hours of staff time.
Reduces wastes, improves efficiency and save on costs when improvements are implemented within a shorter timeframe.
Stronger employee involvement: a key for better engagement is to act fast, especially when operating with a suggestion system!
Increased employee reach because freehand sketching is easily accessible to everyone. The employee suggesting a new structure or improvements on an existing structure is, logically, the best person to do the sketch.
It’s easier to think outside the box because you are making multiple drawing iterations, ideally 7 - see our 7-Ways Idea Template to Avoid Tunnel Vision article. Getting various departments and workers participating in this brainstorming process is invaluable and can reap numerous rewards such as different perspectives and diversified work techniques.

 

Benefits of making a CAD drawing after a first structure is built
Most of the time we suggest making a 3D CAD drawing once the prototype phase is over because the final result will be accurate measurements, a bill of material, and a precise cut list.

Here are some other benefits that it's important to document, using CAD software, a project that will be reproduced:

Avoid the occurrence of mistakes or leaving details up to an assembler’s preferences. It’s best to stick to a final design, so each structure is identical.
Reduces the time spent cutting pipes and assembling the structure. This is especially true when making multiple copies of an existing and tested structure.
Keeps a detailed record of your structure’s components if you need to build additional units in the future. Regardless of who builds the structure, the “recipe” will be the same.
Enables you to share improvements made to structures with other departments or factories to share best practices and standardize work methods.
Helps you order the exact quantity of material needed or calculate the cost of a large project.
Makes requesting quotes from pipe and joint suppliers easier. Though we hope you’ll choose Flexpipe!

 
Better to develop a concept with CAD software for these types of structures
For complex structures with over 20 pipes and 50 joints - for example, a flow rack 60’’ long with 5 levels and a 40’’ depth with multiple roller tracks. A CAD design will make it easier to draw up a bill of material, reduce the risk of errors and reduce waste, and save money.

For critical structures with a heavy loading capacity exceeding 1000 lb - for example, a WIP (work-in-progress) cart that will hold parts weighing 1200 lb and is to be moved around the production floor. Calling upon the CAD design team members is a wise move as they are specialized in calculating loading capacities and optimizing work methods.

For projects bringing about resistance to change - for example, replacing workbenches that have been used for the last 15 years by new workstations. Some projects generate more passionate debate than others. In such cases, presenting a 3D CAD drawing with multiple perspectives to the team can provide reassurance, bring about product improvement suggestions, and motivate employee engagement.

Projects that require a significant financial investment - for example, new kitting carts to reduce the use of wood pallets and forklift traffic. These types of projects generally require formal approval as it takes a certain amount of time to recoup the investment. Therefore, a 3D software design will help justify the expense to key decision makers. They will be able to visualize the project and understand its benefits.

It’s essential to evaluate the scope of the structure that you want to create; that is, don’t overthink the process. Large projects should be done on CAD once the prototype phase is done. Major projects should be drawn on CAD once the prototype is done. Other than that, we suggest that you encourage people to keep it simple: do a freehand sketch, start assembling the structure, and test it quickly!

A coated pipe is less than a $1 per foot, and you will be able to reuse the casters and joints if the structure does not work or has to be improved upon—but at least you’ll be getting closer to a structure offering top-notch efficiency.

Why should I use Sketchup instead of my usual design software?

Why should I use Sketchup instead of my usual design software?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
After a certain time, we sometimes get set in our ways of doing things. To a certain extent, familiarity can breed a certain level of efficiency. However, if you’re in a continuous improvement environment, have you considered new ways to speed up the freehand drawing process?

Whether you're using AutoCAD, Inventor, Catia, SolidWorks or any other 3D computer design software, read on to learn how our team at Flexpipe cut design time in half.

Up until 2011, the Flexpipe design team used Solidedge software. We were drawing sketches rather quickly; maybe not the fastest out there, but we thought we were pretty good nonetheless! All our joints had already been drawn previously, and we were producing complete computer designs in about 4 hours. Some took just an hour, such as for boards, while others took an entire day, an elaborate kitting cart for instance.

The problem was that sometimes we would spend 5 to 8 hours drawing a single sketch, and, in some cases, the project would not get the go-ahead. To reduce this time waste, we developed an extension for Sketchup which eventually allowed us to cut our drawing time by half! This was a huge gain for our designers who were sketching all day long! In 2016, we decided to offer this time-saving feature to our customers. As of 2019, the extension is available to all pipe and joint users, even if they are not Flexpipe customers.

 
Benefits of the Flexpipe Creator Extension for SketchUp
The developed extension has several benefits that will reduce your drawing time in half for you too!

1 - Converts lines into pipes with the desired Flexpipe color in 1 click, which makes the design simpler and faster to create. You can quickly change your structure with 1 click to go back to the sketch with lines.

2- Finds and places the right metal joints – and suggests alternatives – in one click for all the pipe intersections. That way you don’t have to know all the joint options and speeds up design time considerably. The Flexpipe Creator extension can spots metal joints that are in conflict with others to avoid any incorrect design features. It also accelerates the assembly process.

3- Suggests other accessories and puts them in the most appropriate locations. He also offers visibility options to hide pipe, joints, and accessories allowing you to modify a drawing faster.

Once your structure design is complete, you will be able to generate a bill of material in an Excel format including a cutting list for pipes, roller tracks, and decking. This will speed up the purchase request and avoid any retyping waste.

You'll also get an optimized cutting list and a visual diagram to reduce pipe, roller track and decking wastes. The Flexpipe Creator extension has links to Flexpipe’s online store so you can evaluate pricing, create a shopping list that you can share or place the order right away!

Want to see the Flexpipe Creator extension in action?
Watch our quick demo

 
Key benefits of the Sketchup program include:

Low cost for the commercial license;
Minimal hardware requirements;
Access to the Sketchup 3D Warehouse - a comprehensive list of extensions and API;
Access to the Sketchup Library: other CAD models created by other users;
Easy to use;
Flexpipe Creator Extension available!

The best way to design an optimal structure is to focus on the concept and the structure’s purpose. Try to spend more time with people on the floor to ask them about their needs and what type of structure they have in mind. They usually have already thought about a concept, but sometimes merely need to explain it in their own words.

As you can well guess, we’re all about efficiency. Therefore, with LEAN principles mind, we strive to reduce time wastes in the various sketching steps, i.e., putting in measurements, changing pipe colors, finding the right connector, putting together the cut list. So you can craft your design in the most efficient way possible.

If you need more information, on Flexpipe’s Creator extension, please contact your project manager, he will be happy to provide any information you might need.