Ceramic Industry

INSIDE <em>CI</em>: Pressed for Time

May 1, 2007
The monthly roundup from Editor-in-Chief Susan Sutton.

Looking back over the past several weeks, I don't know that I've ever felt more rushed. No matter what items I really do need to accomplish, how many lists-of-things-to-do I carefully put together, something (or usually, several things) always seems to come up and derail my plans. I find myself shocked at the end of the day, shaking my head and mumbling, "What the heck just happened?" Instead of looking forward to fun activities over the weekend, I'm often panicked by Friday and wishing for a couple of additional days in the workweek.

I suppose I should take solace in the fact that I'm not alone. According to Day-Timers Inc., the time management experts behind the Day-Timer® planner, "62% of American workers feel they are always or frequently rushed to do the things they have to do." Additionally, "while 45% make a daily plan at least once a week, only 9% accomplish everything they set out to do."

Day-Timers suggests a variety of remedies, including establishing goals, prioritizing and planning activities, keeping interruptions to a minimum, and using a planner. I'm sure we could all see that last one coming from a mile away, considering the source, but many people do find planners very helpful. Of course, other methods for keeping us organized include calendars, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and the ever-popular (and my personal favorite) Post-it® note.

The bottom line is, we need to work smarter. One way to save time is to produce more product per run, and manufacturers of hot isostatic presses (HIPs) are helping their customers do just that. Modern HIPs are not only larger to facilitate increased production, but they also offer updated computer control systems that enable higher throughputs and efficiencies (see "Today's HIPs: Bigger, Faster, Cost-Efficient”).

Readying a new material for commercial production can be exceptionally time-consuming. However, manufacturers that incorporate nanotechnology, smart materials and biomaterials in their products are finding that tape casting can simplify the process (see "Tape Casting Advanced Materials”).

Suppliers to the brick industry are also cognizant of their customers' need to achieve maximum up-time for optimum productivity. One brick manufacturer, which had previously been forced to spend hours on routine maintenance for its outdated hammer mill, is enjoying far fewer hassles as a result of a new crusher. The supplier's quick turnaround also helped the company avoid shutting down its kilns during the installation, which saved a lot of time-and money (see "Maximized Impact”).

The Day-Timer folks recommend keeping a daily activities diary for a couple of weeks, under the assumption that patterns will emerge to help pinpoint problems and suggest ways to alleviate time crunches. A part of me can't help but think that if I had the time available to keep and study such a diary, I'd already be ahead of the curve. But I guess, as the saying goes, "It takes time to save time."