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An NSightful way to improve shop work

Jim Colwell, left, electrician, and Darl Beckham, machinist, talk about NSight improvements at Bellevue Locomotive Shop.


An easy way to sum up the Mechanical Department’s NSight initiative is this familiar proverb: “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

Mechanical shops across Norfolk Southern’s system are using that idea to standardize work processes and make their work areas more efficient and effective. The Safety and Service Expo gave mechanical craft employees a chance to showcase those efforts.

The Bellevue Locomotive Shop booth, for example, featured before and after photographs to illustrate how employees there were using NSight to improve their work areas. Some examples included creating “shadow boards” that identify where specific tools are to be stored; color-coding tools based on which area of the shop they are used; and organizing tools by specific tasks.

“One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed with NSight is the job-specific toolboxes we have now,” said Chad Lucal, a Bellevue machinist. “At our drop table, for example, we have all the tools we need to change out a traction motor – they’re all one step away, right where you need them.  I don’t have to move around the shop to get anything.”

“When the tools are at a work station, everybody knows where they are, and you don’t have to go back to your toolbox to find what you need,” added Jim Colwell, a Bellevue electrician. “That does effectively reduce dwell time on the locomotives.”

Jennifer Bailey, Bellevue’s assistant shop manager, said NSight is about establishing “visual control” over the shop work area, making it easier for employees to do their job. Craft employees are driving the effort, she added.

“If employees identify things in the workplace that can be re-arranged or improved,” Bailey said, “they are empowered to do that.”

Bellevue Locomotive Shop created a Power Point presentation to show examples of how the shop is applying NSight, including this slide about marking floors with different colors of tape – one way employees have taken “visual control” of their workplace.