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  • Bryan Cheney

Cost Takeout Fail - gloves

In my very first role as an operations manager, I took over a department that was failing on every metric. We were working for an aerospace manufacturing & assembly company. The department was so far behind on throughput, any penny we could save would help augment the massive overtime that would be required to catch up.



The team was about 22 people and we went through an absolutely incredible amount of latex/non-latex gloves. While not required as PPE, we worked with some pretty nasty chemicals like MEK, Acetone, and others that were best not applied to skin.


We were paying about $12/box of gloves and went through about 6 boxes/day. Gloves were tossed before every break and every time they got dirty/lubricant that couldn't be wiped off.


I thought it would be a great idea to switch to the $6/box of gloves. What I didn't know was that not all gloves are created equal.


The first time I used them (I worked along side the team to help out as often as I could), half of the glove remained after I'd finished my first set of parts. Not only did they tear easily, but they disintegrated with the MEK and Acetone products we used.


This created a major issue as the gloves were basically useless, except for 2 people in the department and now the team was consistently exposed to chemicals they weren't supposed to be exposed to.


It took about a week to get a different set of gloves, and while we didn't go back to the $12/box, we did go to the $10/box that was from a different brand that met the same specifications as the original and saved a little bit of money.


The consequences of that story could have been much greater than it was. The team was not very happy with the change as they didn't have their basic needs met and production was slowed with the morale dip as well as the additional time it took for each guy to clean their hands following the glove failures.


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