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.
JITM = CP + IP + HW
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.
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.
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.
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
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'
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