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Evolutionary Changes in P&IM (Cont.)

Another approach used in the past was to develop a common solution (system) to conduct business. We now recognize that this methodology neutralized competitive factors, ignored organization focus and structures, did not consider unique requirements during a product's life cycle, and worse, did not comprehend competitive advantages among business units.

Briefly stated, we raised or lowered our strengths and weaknesses to a common level. Both of these techniques resulted in a loss of focus over time and confusion and conflict in the allocation of our resources.

However, we did gain some valuable experience in cost effectively storing, processing and reporting all pertinent information for a function, and being able to keep that data in any geographic location. This allowed organizations to reexamine their structure in an attempt to improve the efficiency of their personnel. This capability led to some of the changes that have recently taken place, scheduler/ planner, buyer/planner, etc.

New capabilities being introduced into P&IM systems include the incorporation of material planning algorithms for auto-material planning, incorporating master schedul­ing logic for auto-scheduling, EDI (electronic data inter­change) for auto-order entry and auto-supplier release, and electronic technology for auto-material tracking and control.

The bulk of these changes are seen as evolutionary changes benefiting production and inventory management. Let's put on our "reengineering" hat and see if these can have a revolutionary impact on our organization.

Reengineering Focus on P&IM

A generally accepted definition of reengineering is that it is the analysis and radical redesign of a business process and related areas to significantly improve performance.

The key words are "radical" and "significantly" because they differentiate this approach from continuous improve­ment. A business process is seen as something that pro­vides value to the customer. Processes that need attention generally exhibit communication difficulties (too much or too little), deal in redundant data, use extra resources as a buffer against uncertainty (material, labor, equipment, etc.), have extensive checking and control, and must deal in complex scenarios or frequent exception to the rules. Even if we accepted P&IM as an important process to the customer, one could assume it is a process that can be broken easily. In either case we will assume that based upon the definition it is not important to the customer (just because it's important internally doesn't mean it's impor­tant to our customers).

Changing the Way We Perform

Let's look at some of the changes that companies are promoting:

• empowerment—allow people to make decisions about things that affect their performance
• share information—give people access to all informa­tion which relates to their job

Since a scheduler does not have to meet the schedule they developed, nor does a material planner use the material they plan, etc., might it make sense in light of the above people goals that we have manufacturing schedule their production and order their material. We discussed earlier the availability of data to anyone at any location, the knowledge based algorithms used for scheduling and plan­ning is built into the logic of the system, and the manufac­turing process is of customer concern whereas the P&IM process is not. Should we change?

If we can accept that, why not consider manufacturing dealing directly with the customer and accepting orders. This certainly would provide close coupling with partici­pants in a key business process and the customer. Keep in mind we are developing systems that are significantly easier to use and we want our people to be flexible in their skills.

If we also believe in people assuming responsibility for their actions, doesn't it make sense to have production activity control performed by manufacturing personnel?

As you can see, once we put on a reengineering hat and think without conventional organization boundaries we can look at things from the customer's perspective and propose changes that may make more sense from a process point of view.

Fortunately, we also have some new information technol­ogy "tools" which will support any creative solutions.

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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