Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Stuck in Traffic

If you're trying to get to work on time, don't you hate when there is a traffic jam? Or let's say you arrive at the cinema with just enough time to buy a ticket, and get into the theater as the feature is starting. However, you discover there's a line at the ticket booth. Then you learn that many of the people in front can't decide which movie to see. It's taking extra time with each person. You want to scream, right?

We did some research at one contract manufacturer and discovered that the parts, if they could, would probably be screaming in frustration. Even though four out of five jobs (80%) started on-time or early, the same proportion finished after the due date.

Only five out of 100 jobs were delayed for material shortages.
Three out of 100 jobs were stalled waiting for engineering input.
One out of the 100 jobs were stuck behind parts that were being expedited (like jumping ahead in the ticket line).
That left 91 out of 100 jobs (91%) that suffered delays for some other reason. The other reason is simply that they were "stuck in the line". They would "hurry up", after being worked on, to the next operation, only to sit and wait. We found that for this company, the parts only saw action 2 hours out of the 18 hours in a typical operational day. It was getting so bad that business was being lost because their lead-times were too great for the customers' liking. A lot of extra effort went into updating schedules and communicating which jobs needed to ship in the next day or two. A lot scrambling occurred. There were several layers to "urgent": expedite, priority one, rush, etc. Each of those classifications fit into a hierarchy that was hard to remember (does rush take precedence over priority one, or vice versa?).

Previously, the company had spent time on resolving material shortages, engineering delays, etc. They hadn't realized that those were minor issues. We needed to focus on the major problem: the queues of parts.

The solution to getting a greater completion was not to start them early--67% are already started early. That would only create even longer queues for the parts to idle in. The solution was to change the metric. Instead of focusing on the ship date, the organization was asked to focus on the production schedule.

The result: 85% of the jobs were finished on time. 99+% of the parts were on schedule. Production teams were requesting more work, even though they were already pushing 20% more than they had previously. It just felt easier.

No more screaming!

No comments:

Post a Comment