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Customer Wants Earlier Delivery

"Reschedule our order" is something that few manufactur­ing companies want to hear. Although these events may cause disruption and other unwanted problems, they are better than one of the alternatives, that of "cancel our order." So, how does the master scheduler handle these requests in light of satisfying the customer while keeping a stable schedule.

The first thing to note about this situation is that it is a change in timing, not a change in volume. This type of change request will generally require a shift in resources and materials. An important point is to understand why the request is being made. It could be the customer needs the product. It also could be a sales representative wants the order moved up because of a sales contest, an order clerk is simply reacting to an order point being tripped, or... safety stock needs replenishment. Some of these conditions may suggest an answer of "no" is appropriate. However, many such requests do deserve positive responses.

There are five questions that need' to be answered before the master scheduler responds to such a request. The first question has already been discussed, that of whether this request is a volume or timing change. The remaining questions are to understand whether the necessary mate­rials can be secured, whether capacity is available, how much the change will cost, and whether or not the master scheduler is authorized to make the change. Most changes, especially if they occur within lead time, are disruptive to the manufacturing floor and could well affect shop person­nel morale. If the master scheduler plans to change the schedule, he or she should insure that positive results occur.

Moving a Manufacturing Order to an Earlier Date

Pulling work forward is not always a bad thing to do. It might be manufacturing's request to build early and may benefit the company. Maybe the pull up is required due to a bad batch being produced, a pre-ship test surfacing a quality problem, the cycle counting program uncovers an error in the inventory, or a new safety stock level which has to be established.

Changes like the one suggested may be difficult and expen­sive to implement. The five key questions must be an­swered before the master scheduler just changes the numbers. In addition to answering the five questions the master scheduler should also ask, "what happens if the schedule is not changed?"
Moving manufacturing orders up in the schedule may affect materials, capacities, and the master scheduler's credibility. Remember, manufacturing has a history of responding. As stated earlier the master scheduler and manufacturing must be flexible (to a point). How about moving a manufacturing order out; the best expediting tool is de-expediting. The last point is that before the resched­ule is made, the master scheduler must secure approval according to the company policy.

Inventory Buildup

A company in a seasonal business, planning for the large order or changing its manufacturing strategy from make-to-order to make-to-stock, may find itself facing an inven­tory build-up situation.

In this scenario the forecast is extremely important to say the least. If the master scheduler does not schedule enough product to be made, there may be no product for the customer when demanded and the order may be lost. If the master scheduler schedules too many, the company may end up with inventory that cannot be sold and it may become obsolete.

Additionally, there may be shelf-life issues that may cause the product to be scrapped. The master scheduler must analyze the entire situation and decide how important it is to stabilize the schedule by carrying inventory versus carrying capacity and the risk of losing the business versus the cost of carrying product in a finished state.

Companies faced with this situation should look into its design, both product and process, to determine if some­thing can be done to shorten the lead time required to produce the product so it doesn't have to build to a finished goods state.

To be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 02


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