Flexpipe Kaizen Tool

Why your workplace should include a Flexpipe Crib

Why your workplace should include a Flexpipe Crib

The Flexpipe Crib is a storage structure that requires assembly. The structure will allow you, among other things, to organize your various modular system parts, make the system far more intuitive to use. This equipment may appear to be somewhat costly to the uninitiated.

However, by reading below, you’ll get a comprehensive overview of the Crib’s potential and usefulness in your work environment.


An excellent example of 5S principles
The Flexpipe Crib was designed according to Lean Manufacturing
A place for everything and everything in its place is a crucial concept in 5S principles, and the Flexpipe Crib is an accurate reflection of this concept. This structure features 3 distinct sections: cutting workstation, centrally-located shelf unit, and tube storage cart.

The cutting workstation includes a platform to set up a saw, storage shelves for your tools, and a drawer with foam cutouts to store small tools.

The 5-tier central unit includes 2 shelves and 3 conveyor levels for optimal product storage.

The cart includes an 8’ section for tube storage as well as a section designated to manage scraps efficiently.

Each of these components is mounted on wheels making it easier to move each one around for quick configuration changes. Furthermore, you can quickly create a U-shaped cell to reduce movements during the assembly process. One can also choose to close off the Crib when not in use to save space.

The Flexpipe Crib was designed according to the Kanban “two-bin” system to facilitate the inventory of assembly parts at a glance. Two posters displaying all the possibilities of Flexpipe products grouped by category are also included in the Crib’s packaging. Why not do like our customer below and build lateral supports to display the posters clearly!

With these posters clearly visible, no matter who tries to build stuff, they can see what items are available

Michael Dumas - Manufacturing Manager at Barfield Inc.

Too often, structures are assembled directly on the floor or stacked pallets. This is probably the best way to lose parts and increase the risk of work-related accidents.

The Crib is an ergonomic and organized location specifically designed to assemble your modular structures.

Use it to show your team just what Lean Manufacturing standards are all about. In a best-case scenario, each of your facility’s departments should be organized in such a way that they are just as Lean as your Crib.


An excellent self-teaching opportunity
Fill two needs with one deed when learning about the modular system’s various uses
Each Crib comes with pre-cut parts, a detailed, step-by-step assembly plan, and 2 parts posters. The assembly instructions have been simplified to make the learning process easier, regardless of your skill level.

It took us a while to begin assembling our Crib, but it turned out to be a training session in itself. When we got down to it, we discovered the modular system’s enormous potential. We also realized just how practical some parts were and put them in our structures. We should have taken it out of the box much sooner!

Jamie & Jamie - Maintenance workers at Robinson Innocations

More informations:
How modular carts help this logistics company improve its efficiency


It is the most frequently used parts that will go into your Crib’s assembly.
When the time comes to assemble more complex structures, you will have already learned the modular system’s basics. It’s worthwhile to keep in mind that assembling the Crib enables you to understand each component’s usefulness in the overall system.

With over 150 different components, you’ll become familiar with certain parts that are often overlooked, such as accessories (AO-CLIP, AC-STRAP, AI-CORNER, AS-REST), slide brackets (FL-COU), and 2 types of wheels: stem swivel caster (W-4ESB) and plate swivel casters (W-4PSB).

Here is the list of tools included in your Flexpipe Crib:


Afterwards, all you’ll need to do is equip yourself with cutting and assembly tools such as a saw, drill, driver, and measuring tape. Complete your lean manufacturing workstation’s setup with an assembly platform made of Flexpipe tubes! That said, you’ll be able to build it according to the size which meets your needs as well as the available floor space.

To determine which tools are best suited for your situation, please read our articles regarding the best tube and joint system cutting tools and assembly tools to get the job done.


Your mini moonshine shop
Where assembly and creativity go hand in hand
The location you choose to set up your Flexpipe Crib can be more than a mere assembly zone. Make it a place where creativity will fuel continuous improvement initiatives. This area should be accessible to all to encourage as many employees as possible to participate in the creative process.

You can also use your Crib as a storage unit for your 5S tools. Colored labels, floor marking stickers, visual learning tools or any other 5S project-related items can all be kept in this location for quick and easy use.

As such, the Crib will become a purpose-driven location where 5S principles and Lean Manufacturing principles are highly visible for daily implementation.

More informations:
9-step checklist for a Kaizen moonshine shop


Some even use the Crib as a meeting point to discuss essential topics and address urgent problems (Obeya) or for daily morning meetings (DMM).


In a nutshell, the Flexpipe Crib will be a valuable asset when integrating 5S in your facility.
On the one hand, it will help you become familiar with the modular material handling system, and on the other hand, it will be an ergonomic and safe place for your continuous improvement projects.

Besides being an area dedicated to assembly and creativity, it can also be a designated gathering-point for Lean-themed meetings.

My Shining Experience

My Shining Experience

With clutter gone and the storage area organized, the next step is to properly and thoroughly clean and paint equipment and work areas. This step is critical as a way of sustaining the improvements begun in the Sort and Set phases.

Initial painting and cleaning requires an extra task outside regular working hours, but after that a daily routine should be established. The entire team should participate in cleaning, but make sure that every team has adequate cleaning supplies and equipment; this is not a task for a special janitorial crew.

Now that I work for an assembly plant, it is much easier to keep the work areas clean compared to my previous job, Martins Industries, a welding plant where cutting, welding and painting resulted in dust, grease and sometimes paint powder coating all the equipment. In 2010, Martins Industries was getting very involved in lean manufacturing/5S culture. Each employee had 10 minutes during every shift to clean their work area, including sweeping and washing equipment used. Lights were bright and often cleaned from dust; floors were marked with tape and polished and the air system was in proper condition (very important in this industry!). Back then and still to this day, people (suppliers, employees, and clients) talk about how clean the factory is.

When I started to work for Martins Industries in 2006, we would do everything in our power to avoid a client’s visit. Even if our finished products were good quality, a quick visit could wind up going bad. Four years later, we would do the exact opposite! A tour would help convince clients that we built good quality products and on time. Clean welding machines and shiny painting equipment gave a good impression.This was also a selling point when we would attract new welders… and good welders were hard to find! They would tour the plant and leave the interview thinking it was a pleasant, safe and well-run environment. (Again, it was not just perception!)


Shining will provide a more comfortable and pleasant environment.

Shining will keep a workplace safe and easy to work in.

Shining will encourage good quality production.

Shining will increase ownership of the organization’s goals and vision.

Shining will prevent machinery and equipment deterioration.

Shining will be used as inspection (leaks, vibrations, breakages, and misalignments).

Supermarket Flowracks and their influence on Manufacturing

Supermarket Flowracks and their influence on Manufacturing

Lean suggests the elimination of large packaging. The use of small lots often requires constant supply. Gravity flowracks help realize this approach with a continuous flow in the factory. Flowracks are usually supplied from behind and parts are consumed on the other side. Gravity racks can be used on the assembly lines or in the storage areas. The pipe and joint system facilitates the building of these custom roller racks.

The idea is simple: swap the palette of large material containers next to the employee (often representing one or two days of production) for a flowrack, with small containers representing several hours of production and keeping the presentation neat.

This idea can easily be included in your organization during the design of a lean manufacturing workstation. The flow racks are not new, they were first known for their use in supermarkets for perishable items such as milk. Then in distribution centers with first-in-first-out racking systems (FIFO), but they are now present on assembly lines, services and even in the health system.

Using small lots and small containers, gives you the possibility to use parts in a flow mode to transport parts at low cost, to easily follow operation schedules and adjust to possible changes. This will also allow you to save space on the production line, improve the part presentation and organize better workstations. An increase in productivity and an increase in production line density (the production volume per unit area) will be quickly achieved.
What are the advantages of this change?
For several years, organizations using fifo racks have seen the following benefits:

Supplies are more organized

Unlike a standard shelf, a flowrack requires a way to operate: Supplying from behind and consumption in front. This allows two people to accomplish their tasks without interference. Travel is also minimized, because all products are found together in one place.

Merchandise is more organized

Some items may be more difficult to store because of their shape. The organization and preparation of components in a flowrack also eliminates wasted time searching for and unpacking parts.

More accessible

To facilitate the work of the operator, the flowrack can be integrated into a workstation. Some travel and unnecessary manoeuvres could be eliminated. The ergonomics of the workstation must also be considered in the design of a position.
Using our pipe material handling systems, you can easily build or order your custom flowracks with Flexpipe.

10 tips to liven up standardized work

10 tips to liven up standardized work

Our employees are responsible for the team’s success and management is responsible for its failures; it is important to optimize so you can do a better job tomorrow. In operations, we use standardized work, among other things, to always go further.

Here are 9 tips from Benoit Chouinard on how to standardize your workplace.
1 - An organized mind in an organized workspace
There is nothing better than a well-organized space and a free mind to get a good job done. And this is true for all services.

Make sure that your teams can rely on optimized workspaces. In production and assembly, create workstations that are perfectly adapted to the job. In offices, make sure that piles of files are put away at the end of the day and don’t forget to keep everything tidy in the computer network by performing a regular cleanup.

Take pictures when everything is neat and tidy to use as a reference for future clean ups. Lead by example, as we usually require from ourselves what we want from others. If you want to know more about keeping a clean work area.
2 - Bring work back to the basics
In order to always improve, one should always question themselves. To that effect, your employees are your best allies. Involve them in the improvement of your work methods and discuss it with them!

You can follow these steps:

Break down work into steps and number them
Discuss each of these steps with your employees.
Think of ways to optimize each of these steps
Apply the improved work method together

Be thankful to all employees for their involvement and the expertise they acquire every day while working. Always remember that it is their work that your clients purchase.
3 - Set up the basics and make them grow   
Once the workload has been fractioned, the results must be put on paper. PhD theses are very useful in college, but in the field, you need to prove yourself. Establish the bases of what has to be done, even if it isn’t perfect, it can always be improved over time. You will therefore create a place where you will make the most of your staff’s experience. Experience is the sum of your mistakes…and to benefit from them, then you will have to consolidate the know-how. The market is constantly evolving and improvement is necessary to remain competitive and to gain advantage.
4 - Give meaning to the work done by your team
To perform their duties well, employees need to understand them. Don’t just show them the starting point and the finish line.

Explain to them the important details of the job and the reasons why it is done that way. Thus, you will give meaning and importance to what they do.
5 - Standard time ≠ average time
Too often, we estimate the duration of a task.Task duration doesn’t have anything to do with the time  estimated that it will take to complete a task using various operators. Standard time is the time required to complete a specific task using the best known methods. All in all, standard time is the result of the improvement of the method used to complete the task.
6 - The devil is in the details!
Oftentimes, you think you are in full control of the situation, then a client makes a complaint, because of a detail that slipped through the cracks. Or you notice you’re missing an important tool on Tuesday night when there's a delivery planned for Wednesday morning. Being 99.9% good is not enough, because customers are more and more demanding, we need to be excellent at all times! In conclusion, get involved in all aspects with attention to details.
7 - Down with paper!
Nowadays, mobile devices give employees direct access to information. Since the Apple launched tablets in 2010, we can now get rid of the heavy burden of physically storing paper, illustrations, photos and videos. Visit www.dozuki.com to learn more, and see Documentation Just Became Painless.
8 - Take control of task training
Work procedures are essential, but you need to make sure that they are passed along to the employees. You are responsible for the development of your team’s operational skills and must offer them the necessary resources to progress. You act as the pivot between the apprentice and the trainer. Develop a detailed and rigorous training plan, set clear goals, and follow each employee’s output every week.
9 - If the apprentice hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught.
This is a fairly simple rule that is easy to remember. Your trainers need to efficiently train the apprentices by teaching them the key steps of their work, apply their teachings in practice, check that the job is well done and proceed with adjustments if needed.

Ask your trainers to use the instructions they probably put together for themselves and don’t let them teach using the “trial and error” method. So, when somebody tells you the new guy doesn’t understand anything, refer them to tip #9…
Bonus - Measure, measure, measure
Surely, you already put this in practice. If the manager’s responsibility is to generate results, his or her main tools are indicators. Performance measuring is fundamental to managers as well as their employees.

It’s simple, communicate yesterday’s results to better present today’s goals!
This post was made with the collaboration of
Benoit Chouinard, ing.
Main associate at Solutions vSmart, continual improvement and management infrastructure specialist.

How your Layout can reduce forklift accidents

How your Layout can reduce forklift accidents

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that there are 34 900 serious injuries, including 85 fatal accidents per year in the Unites States involving forklifts. 11% of all forklifts will be involved in some type of accident each year and the manufacturing industry is the most affected with 42.5% of fatal accidents.

Many work-related factors can cause accidents with forklift trucks, such as lack of training, poor maintenance, blocked vision, improper reversing, speed, poorly stacked loads, improper communication or workplace design. In assembly factories, poor floor layout is one of the main factors for forklift accidents.

Creating designated walkways to separate pedestrians and forklifts is a must in the industry but poor workplace design also includes narrow, crowded and cluttered aisles, working in the general area of forklift operations and mainly forklift traffic in work areas.

Traffic in work areas occurs when forklifts are used to handle and transport input, work in progress or output to work cells.  Most companies have limited work space, increasing the risk of accidents. To reduce the risk of accidents, process engineers need to consider handling the material differently. Light materials (less than 2000lbs) can be handled by using jiggers, conveyors, kitting carts, tugger carts or by redesigning the floor layout and redefining processes. The spaghetti diagram on the right is a good tool to review forklift congestion.

Safety is not the only concern for reducing forklift use; maintenance, congestion, flexibility and productivity also benefit from this change. For example, instead of carrying 1 load of finished products at a time from a work area to storage area with a fork lift, tugger carts can be used to carry multiple loads of finished products including empty carts that can be left in work areas afterwards.  Furthermore, tugger operators always have a clear view because the loading is done in the back.

Forklifts should be restricted to their designated work areas, where vertical storage is needed or for shipping purposes. This should contribute in the reduction of accidents involving forklifts.