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Manufacturing Simulation Game 

Just-In-Time Formula?
Part 1 of 3

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Manufacturing Planning and

What is the secret of implementing a Just-In-Time Mate­rials program to support a world-class manufacturing environment? It's not a mathematical formula or a chemi­cal formula, but rather an equation which may be familiar to you.

There's really no magic involved with Just-In-Time Mate­rials (JITM), but rather starting with a comprehensive plan (CP), adding informed people (IP) along with lots of hard work (HW) will get you there. The journey is not the same for everyone, but the results usually include higher productivity, improved quality, less inventory and more satisfied customers for starters.

The following case study depicts the efforts of the Instru­ment Manufacturing operation of the Coulter Corporation as it moved toward improving its material flow in support of its demand pull production lines.

In-House Training

The Coulter Corporation started its journey toward JITM in 1987. At that time we emphasized training our people in the JIT philosophy and focused our efforts on improving supplier quality.

The training emphasized the team concept, learning about group dynamics, as well as problem-solving techniques such as Pareto analysis, cause-and-effect diagrams, etc. All the materials people received this training to varying degrees depending upon their assignments. The buyer/ planners attended two days of Coulter training while material handling people attended a minimum of four hours of training. The successful completion of the APICS certification test in JIT became mandatory for all buyer/ planners.


For the next two years we began to manage our manufac­turing business through the use of teams. These included natural work group teams and multifunctional teams, and involved both task assignments and process improvement goals.
While we continued to learn how to operate in a team environment, we started the process of reducing our sup­plier base.

The supplier base reduction process was formalized and we used a multifunctional team consisting of various engi­neering functions as well as purchasing, quality and ac­counting resources to whittle our supplier base down to a manageable level. The process took several years to finalize and, in fact, the consolidation is still ongoing. The results were significant since we started with over 800 production suppliers and are now below 200 suppliers.

Supplier Training

We began an education process with our suppliers, holding formal classroom sessions including subjects such as Just-In-Time principles, setup reduction techniques, statistical process control and material requirements planning. Team member training and team leader training were also given to suppliers involved in Coulter Corporation's commodity teams.

The training was reinforced by having our engineers visit selected suppliers' locations to help them install statistical process control (SPC) and improve their setup routines through the use of single minute exchange of die techniques (SMED). It was important that we acted as a resource for these suppliers to implement their own programs to sup­port the partnership relationship and to monitor the sup­pliers' improvement.

Other courses we are planning to offer to our suppliers include short-cycle manufacturing, total quality manage­ment, supplier quality auditing techniques, advanced SPC and ISO training.

To Be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 01


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