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Are you struggling to deliver parts to your customers on time?  Fed up replacing parts because your Customer claims they are missing?

You are not alone, many successful companies grow to the point where they can no longer rely on the few key individuals to make it happen everyday.

This is the dilemma many business owners face and the solution they are told is they need a new computer system.

Unfortunately,  many companies have tried and failed to implement new systems, costing a fortune both in time and money.  So what’s the solution?

There is NO quick fix. However, focusing on people centric improvements and taking into account the needs of both internal and external customers is the only way that digital transformation can be truly successful.

Typically, orders flow into the office, processed and ‘pushed’ into the factory as quick as possible. But why so many late deliveries, and  schedules continually changing to meet ‘late’ orders?

We call this ‘Push scheduling‘.  Unfortunately for many SME’s they struggle to manage and meet the delivery dates, resulting in high WIP (work in progress), increased costs and requires a ‘high’ command and control factory management skills.

Typical manufacturing company using ‘Push’ scheduling

The difficulty with Push Scheduling, coupled with measuring operator/machine performance, drives WIP into the system. Operators work on the next order  in front of their machines with little regard to the delivery date.  After all, if they don’t hit their output target they are in ‘trouble’.

This behaviour put’s pressure on the management, someone has to organise the mountain of WIP, find and move the right parts to the right machines based on some ‘ad-hoc’ rush list. Problems or defects get little or no attention, people are ‘busy’, trying to synchronise all the right parts to complete an order.  If this sounds familiar keep reading.

‘Pull’ scheduling and the impact on results.

Now let’s introduce ‘Pull Scheduling’

It’s important to understand if this technique suits your process.  Basically the system sets the date where each operation must complete their part of the order and everyone has visibility of the ‘Live’ schedule.  The operator’s task is to complete all orders assigned for ‘today’ on their work-centre, then move to assist the ‘bottleneck’ ensuring the overall production lines delivers all orders assigned for dispatch that day.  The schedule uses the red-amber-green status so it easy to understand.

So ‘Pulling’ the job out of production against the delivery date and launching only those orders required to be started manages WIP. It takes time to move the culture of an organisation from Push to Pull, the emphasis has to be on due date and be prepared to see machines ‘idle’ when not required. Operators should be assisting achieve the overall delivery target. Manage machine utilisation/capacity by loading the schedule.

Worked correctly, we see lead-time reduction around 50% and output increases 35-40% as there is a steady flow of work through production, people working on ‘right products’ at the ‘right time’.  The transformation totally changes the culture of an organisation.  The combination of ‘Lean with IT‘ works.

So let’s start and understand how to begin and change things.  Customer delivery is paramount, therefore we need to develop the business model around delivery 100% on time every-time.  To achieve this goal we need everyone in the company aligned and working against delivery dates.  We need to develop processes and systems to achieve this goal.  Warning this is not an IT project or simply another improvement initiative, it is the ‘Heartbeat‘ of the company and needs to be supported right from the top.

Just like the fire triangle, leadership needs to supply the oxygen, the fuel is the process and system improvements and sufficient mix will drive the mindset changes (heat).  Reduce either  and the heat (mindset changes) quickly ‘die’ out.

Read Case Studies

Case Studies

Digital Transformation

How Lead-Time impacts cash-flow

Everything produced on time. Everyone working on the right product.