EcoChampion Randall Wiese
JAN 30, 2024

A place for everything and everything in its place

Symington Yard team improves housekeeping and safety while reducing waste.

EcoChampion Randall Weise

Improving housekeeping is always on the radar, and Symington Yard in Winnipeg has been leading the way. Here, Randall Wiese and his team – which includes Shannon Koniski, Derrick Zanewich, and Ben Unger – have made important changes over the past several years to reduce waste, increase efficiency, and improve overall workplace safety.

Making a clean sweep

“The first thing we did was remove lots of storage racking from inside the shop and set it up outside, which made it easier to access items,” says Randall, Senior Manager, Mechanical Car for CN’s Prairie North Region.

“We now have more storage racking plus some brake-beam racks and coupler racks outside. Now, the couplers are easy to pick up with the forklift, and the brake beams aren’t in a pile with workers trying to untangle them. Everything’s itemized properly so anyone can grab them as needed and once the rack gets low, the storage people restock them.”

Smart storage

The team also added modified shipping containers to store parts and tools. Ten containers now house everything the crew needs, easily identified and accessible. New racking for chains and rigs helps make sure nobody gets injured around the yard, notes Randall.

“We have our chains and rigs on chain and sling racks now, so they're totally enclosed with a box around the bottom. Once a chain is hung on the hook, the tail of the chain or the sling goes into that bottom carrier box, removing any chance of tripping hazards. We did the same thing with brake-hose racks and reels for electrical extension cords and air hoses.”

Upgrades for the tool room

Adding cabinets in the tool room meant that tools are now in one place, notes Randall. Other improvements to the manufacturing area include new tin walls, freshly painted floors, a workbench, toolboxes for bigger tools, and racks for metal sheets, hanging shovels and brooms.

“We also upgraded the lighting and put a gauge rack on the wall so all the truck and measuring gauges are accessible on an outline pegboard, so you know exactly where it goes,” he says.

Finally, the main office was treated to a facelift: the conference room, senior management offices, and clerk office have all been redone to create a safer and healthier work environment for employees.

Reducing noise

Switching from a pneumatic to an electric car door opener also boosted employee safety, while significantly reducing noise. “It’s so quiet, all you hear is a hum of the motor going,” says Randall. “There's no more jerking or jarring. And we don't need hearing protection when we're using it because there's no noise at all. The new system can also be maneuvered easily because it’s not top-heavy and has a good centre of balance,” he adds.

Making an impact

“Overall, the housekeeping and cleanliness of the shop has increased tenfold,” reports Randall. “The guys like it; it’s helped increase productivity and reduced the chance of a tripping or falling hazard, increasing safety. It’s taken a lot of time but has been well worth it.”

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