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
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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