Try This!

His constraint is food …
he gets it by stealing
our lunches

Do you have one or more of these problems with your manufacturing business?

  1. Your lead time to customers is too long. Customers expect, and some competitors promise a shorter lead time.
  2. You do not always deliver on time.
  3. Your capacity is not enough. You can’t take advantage of available market demand.
  4. You have plenty of capacity, but clients are not buying enough to fill it.
  5. Your Productivity is lower than your expectations.
  6. Operating expenses are too high.
  7. Inventory is higher than management would like.
  8. Production and sales suffer from shortages. Finance suffers from surpluses.
  9. Do these 8 problems damage your profit and profitability?

Surely your organisation does its best to eliminate or significantly reduce these.

If you have none of these problems, perfect! If you do, Try This!

  1. STOP releasing work orders for ½ your standard lead time.

Will your factory or production line produce less?

  • Your factory (or production line) has a constraint. There is no way your factory can produce more than the constraint capacity.
  • 1 item is being transformed in most machines and X items wait in queues.
  • Most items in queues (work-in-process) will not have reached the constraint.
  • So, there is little or no risk of starving the constraint of work.
  • Because your constraint is not starved the factory output does not change.
  • Re-start releasing. But release with ½ the standard lead time!

Will your factory produce less? What will the new lead time be?

  • You are still releasing at the same original rate at which the constraint can produce.
  • Production queues are halved. The other half is now waiting to be released. Most items waiting in queues are still before the constraint.
  • Nothing has changed for your customers; not yet. They experience no change in your lead time. Customers experience no change because ½ the queues that used to be in the factory are now waiting to be released.
  • Your production lead time has halved. Flow has improved.
  • Improved flow and less searching for the right order boost capacity.
  • Focus on the constraint and exploit it better. Find constraint capacity!

There are many examples, some of them mine, that have significantly increased constraint capacity at little or no cost. Some generic actions include:

  • Protect constraint capacity:
    • Inspect the product before it arrives at the constraint. Sort out poor quality that would waste constraint capacity.
    • Make sure the constraint is never starved of work. Except due to a lack of market demand. Insufficient market demand means the factory is NOT the constraint. It is sales or the market.
    • Find ways to expand constraint capacity. Make sure it never stops due to shift changes, statutory breaks, lunch breaks, product changeovers and pee breaks. If a stop is unavoidable make it as short as possible. (SMED changeovers)
    • Make sure manning is optimal – an added person is usually much less costly than the lost Throughput.
  • Assuming demand exists expand capacity (or outsource constraint jobs). The added Throughput is usually much more valuable than added cost and investment. Nevertheless check! (And exploit your constraint correctly before you spend money!)
  • Use some of the capacity gains to make your system more reliable. To gain sales you need reliable delivery to promise.
  • The things you do to improve constraint performance have the effect of cutting lead time.
  • After all this, you gain a better flow, a shorter production lead time, less work in process, and less finished inventory (because lead time is cut). You produce more without adding cost. You sell more with the help of a shorter lead time and improved reliability for customers.

It might feel like a lot, but is it? Just 3 steps and you are there.

Complicated environments might want to use (our) software. It recommends what and when to release orders. It can release work orders autonomously. By recommending when to release the software guides (polices) the organisation to do what should be done. An expert (the boss and his team?) is a key asset. He guides on which improvement projects should be pursued. He ensures non-constraints behave correctly.

If you want to try it but are unsure how to proceed, I and Alkyone consulting are here to support you. You can find our contact details below.

Here are some links to stories about exploiting the constraint better.

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