Quote of the day—Kim Huffman-Scott

They are getting too fast and I couldn’t count.

Kim Huffman-Scott
Boomershoot Target Production Manager
May 2, 2015
[I put Kim in charge of target production this year. This is one of the best decisions I have ever made. It dramatically reduced my work load and stress level. But most of all she did an awesome job.

The production line is usually running for about 13 or 14 hours to produce the targets for Boomershoot. This time it was less than eight hours. Part of this was the enthusiastic “army of people” (as Barb describes it) there to help. But Kim figured out how to put them all to work and they listened to her.

Kim quickly identified bottlenecks and fixed them. This is a dynamic problem because it depends on which size targets are being produced and who is doing which job at the time. She  also would anticipate when to change the line to a new target type. This is tough because the production line may have 10 to 20 targets in various stages of completion but you only have a good count of the number of actually completed crates. The following video gives you a clue of what it was like. It doesn’t show the people outside folding the boxes.

As the production crew cranked up the production rate it became more and more difficult to get a snapshot of completed crates and targets in production. This resulted in today’s QOTD. She told me this a few minutes after I took the video above.—Joe]

17 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Kim Huffman-Scott

  1. Joe, I didn’t get to say goodbye after cleanup before I headed out, also wanted to say thank you. I had a great time with all of you once again at this event.

  2. Granted that boomerite is not as likely to go off on handling as flash powder, black powder or star mixtures- But there are certain practices that are basic to minimizing casualties in any explosives manufacturing operation. Making such quantities of targets puts you in the INDUSTRIAL category!

    1. Limit number of people in any one operation area. Break up operations, separate by physical barriers and/or distance. Like, don’t make the nitroglycerin and mix/cartridge/pack the dynamite in boxes all in one building?!

    2. Never set up a work area in such a way that immediately running like hell is impossible for any worker, or impeded by latching doors, getting past/around equipment, a crowd of co-workers jammed at a choke point…

    It creeps me out to see that large a number of people working with energetic materials in a narrow steel box having only one door at the far end.

    Oxidizers and fuels… Check. Electricity, friction and heat sources. Check. Lots of people. Check.

    Unimpeded emergency exit for people blinded by smoke and panicked by fire… Not check.

    • Limited batch size. Check. So limited that it’s the bottleneck for the largest target.

      No metal on metal contact possible. Check.

      Extinguishers and water available at every station. Check.

      Air filters to remove particulates from the air. Check.

      Mixture that isn’t overly sensitive and is actually fairly difficult to detonate except via bullet or blasting cap. Check

      Investigation of particular materials in use, as well as extensive testing to determine areas of margin. Check.

      Once a crate is full it immediately leaves the facility to the magazine. Check.

      It is easy to come in from the outside without any real knowledge of the materials at hand, knowing the process, and criticize. We previously did all the mixing out doors but given weather conditions and other issues it didn’t work well. We had consistency and detonation problems.

      All that said if you would like to fund the expansion of our manufacturing facility I’m sure Joe would be more than willing to accept the help. The problem I see is how do you keep the manufacturing flow with it split up without increasing the danger due to needing to stockpile large amounts of material to keep each section flowing.

    • Oh yeah. Ban on wood utensils and the only metal is the bowl of the mixer. Check.

      The worst item is the heat shrink for the boxes, which is considerably faster than zip lock bags and every other method we’ve tried. Even then we’ve tested the temp inside the boxes and it doesn’t really rise above ambient as the heat is contained to the cardboard exterior.

    • I could improve things. The exit could be improved and I could have fewer people in there. I’ll work on that for next year. I would also like to have “Panic buttons” that would turn on water sprinklers on the work area.

      Some things that probably aren’t obvious: The ethylene glycol is anti-static and anti-dust, we have three air cleaners near the dust sources, and the explosive materials are packaged by the time we have heat sources.

  3. It’s important to find and retain people with process skills, or whatever B-school calls it now, someone who can look at the flow of assembly and see ways to make it smoother and quicker and cheaper. It’s a skill much valued in business.

  4. I think that is why we keep doing better and better. Everybody at every spot on the line is smart and always thinking about how to make their place not be the bottleneck. We were always tinkering and trying different things like heatshrinking boxes 2 at a time or splitting the heatshrink into two different stages, different stacking systems to make it more efficient to pass product down the line or make boxes available for filling, different stickering techniques to minimize time spent tearing stickers off of nitrile gloves and product escaping the boxes, different bagging techniques to prevent corners from snagging and causing bags to be weakened and split during heatshrinking, etc. And that was just improvements seen from my station.

    Somebody suggested taking videos of each station for training purposes, but I’m not so sure that would work because every 20 minutes, we found a better way to do it. It really felt more like a dance this time than a slog, as it has a few times in the past.

    It was a pleasure to be a part of it.

    • I figured I was on to something sealing two at a time once I ended up with a pat on the back.

    • I thought the same thing last year. Smart people all coming to understand the process and all its parts, gradually tweaking the little things as they can, without causing problems in the things that HAVE to remain consistent and unchanging, can make large numbers of small, incremental changes that collectively make a huge difference. When you realize that you are moving just about as fast as you can, and you are neither waiting on someone else, and nobody is waiting on you, either, you know things are rocking. When even the threes are screaming past without making anyone wait much, well, it’s getting down to a science.
      It was a most excellent year of target making.
      Biggest two things I noticed: in times past, the chlorate being caked and going through the sifter / ricer very slowly was a pain. This year, for whatever reason, it was sifting easily and fast and never a limiting factor that needed multiple people working on just that. Second: lots of people.

  5. You can order a grade of Potassium chlorate that has been milled with an anti cakeing agent. Some chlorate used for stars doesn’t get that treatment as customers don’t want an additional chemical that might degrade star colors-

    Who is your supplier- Service Chemical?

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