Pop quiz: Lean-ify this iPad case pt.2

gold_star_on_FIWe got some excellent responses to yesterday’s challenge, I’m very pleased and appreciate the time you took to watch the video and record your responses. And here is your gold star! I should have started passing those out long ago.

Now for analysis from your responses.

Cherry wasn’t first but she provided our only product assessment which was exactly the context we needed. She agrees the case is nicely made but said the elastic closure is losing recovery. She suggests a wider elastic, perhaps 1/2″.

Nearly everyone mentioned workplace set up, that equipment wasn’t placed optimally for efficient flow. Paul mentioned the cause of this problem in an earlier entry saying

[…] what happens in real life is that as things change, are added, or removed over time, people just expand into the next available empty space rather than rearrange to keep the whole thing most efficient. It seems too disruptive to rearrange. So you end up with a really bad arrangement and materials are moved a long way from each step to the next, and you have to go through a major/expensive project, or keep on being inefficient.

Here is a summary of the specific items you mentioned:

  • Having the work piece, waste can, tools and equipment arranged optimally.
  • Component placement was (mostly) eyeballed, several suggested jigs or templates for layout. David suggested notching for more efficient placement.
  • The fabric covers should have been cut with rounded covers to eliminate the messy and wasteful step of hand trimming.

I don’t have much to add to this beyond reiterating the need for jigs. In some places, their absence was painful. Specifically the eyelet punching step -for which there is a machine in our industry that could be modified for book binding. There was a guide pattern for the eyelets but it wasn’t mounted to the work piece with any stability so it moved around a lot on the impact absorbing blocks. It is possible that some holes won’t be as uniform (possibly resulting in a few defects) so mounting the workpiece and guide pattern into a jig that is shaped to fit would prevent any problems or minimize what ones there were.

It is obvious to us that the method by which they are cutting fabric isn’t optimal. I’m guessing they use a machine specific to book binding. Even if they got a little round knife, I think it would improve matters.

In step 7 (a repeat of step 3, plying pressure to the boards) did you notice that the lower left inside corner was sticking up? It doesn’t look as though it adhered well. The narrator noticed it and pressed that corner down as he spoke. I am guessing this is an equipment problem; perhaps the press needs to be re-calibrated to apply enough pressure for these thicknesses.

Did you notice how Gaby hammered the fabric corners flat? It wasn’t an up and down blow. The motion was directed towards the interior of the case, a very directional strike. Maybe it could be described as an abrupt pressured push. I thought that was interesting.

One thing no one mentioned was trimming rounded corners of the cardboard. It is just as well because there isn’t much to be done about it based on size and the ways these materials are cut. Trimming is one of the few things I know since it was part of my duties at the department publications office when I was in college.

Again, thanks everyone for your participation.

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  1. Lisa Blank says:

    In step 7 (a repeat of step 3, plying pressure to the boards) did you notice that the lower left inside corner was sticking up? It doesn’t look as though it adhered well. The narrator noticed it and pressed that corner down as he spoke.

    Yeah, I noticed that. It made me wonder if they regretted having that on the video as it made me question the quality/durability, though I forgot to mention that in my answer. It was like, “Oops! You didn’t see that!”

  2. Meeka says:

    I am a TOTAL lay person in regards to manufacturing and industrial sewing. However I am an athletic therapist and do exercise rehabilitation for athletes, car accident victims, or any injury really.

    I appreciated (or his back would have appreciated) the 3 steps there and back the man had to take to put his scraps in the garbage. Also all the reaching and moving. It is MURDER for a body to be in one position for a prolonged period of time. I wonder if anyone has done a study on long term productivity of a single person who’s workstation is set up to move minimally as opposed to one who must “waste” movement. Movement is most likely better for the worker and worse for the company, unless the company has high turnover of employees due to physical ailments.

    Just a thought… I’ve only rehabbed one factory worker and they had a very physically demanding job.

  3. Sandy Peterson says:

    Besides all of the comments that were already talked about, there are some minor things that I would try and change.

    But for the most part, I thought everything went pretty smooth. One thing that I did notice is that the worker seemed to be comfortable with the speed at which he was working. He didn’t seem stressed at all. It would be interesting to see how much faster or accurate his work would be with some changes and would it really make a difference.

    As far as the inside fabric not sticking, I think it might have something to do with his fingers touching the glue side of the fabric and removing the glue.

    Thanks, this was a good video to see because I have made books before, and to see a “professional” at work. was great!!

  4. Lisa Blank says:

    Meeka, you make a good point. I know from personal experience that standing still in one position produces a lot of lower back pain.

    I think that ideally in a lean setup, the employee moves from station to station, and the stations are set up in a logical progression. All of the miscellaneous tools needed for one task should be in close proximity to where that task is being done, but the employee is not required to stand in the same place to make the entire case. Does that make sense?

  5. Eric H says:


    We can’t really tell if it is set up like this, but optimum is not necessarily standing in one place, it could be moving from station to station linearly. Or perhaps in a U-shaped work space. But the trash can definitely needs to be right under the cutting station table.

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