Mindset changes, improvement and paradigm shift will always involve
re-appraisal of measurement systems, both formal and informal. A
good manufacturing system can be a source of unbiased measurements
that can assist the company, individuals and trading partnerships.
Some personal favorites for implementation are:
• Percentage of production shipped on time according to original
• Same as the above but for latest date communicated to a customer
• Number (or percentage) of production orders released with
insufficient lead time, or with shortages of material
• Average days late/early of work in process by department or work
• Work in process investment (or days of work) by department, which
is also a cycle/lead time measurement
• Inventory (by class) as a percentage of cost sales in same or next
• Safety stock as a percentage of average level (i.e., investment in
These and similar measurements can be retrieved from a system using
report writers, with trends maintained in spread sheets. Such
information contributes to overall performance improvement, teamwork
and improved partnership relations.
Customization and Flexibility
Most packaged and custom developed systems are inflexible in
transaction formats, display and report contents, etc. Users have to
work with information and displays that are awkward, inefficient and
wasteful in terms of the human resource. People work smarter with
support from effective systems. Systems are more effective if they
can match the best procedures and practices of the different
For example, purchase receipt transactions use similar format and
content. But it is not necessary for the receipt data for raw
material, such as fiber yarn or even steel coil, to have the
complexity of entries needed for a shipment of chemicals or a roll
of cloth, which includes batch number,
lot number, piece number and technical data. Each of these should
have their own formats, to assist user accuracy and match
procedures, instead of just one generic purchase receipt display.
Other examples of procedural customization will allow
multiple/different types of production order, allowing different
departmental procedures and transactions. Different types of
customer order, depending on type of product, allow simplification
of entry and shipping data. The same principles can be applied to
purchase orders, other inventory transactions, and so on.
Today, table approaches (i.e., question/answer input) can allow
changes and tailoring of procedures without programming or
re-compilation. Systems become truly user friendly, meeting local
and different departmental needs. The result will be improved user
performance and responsiveness.
Constraints of duration and length preclude more detailed discussion
of some of these topics and their related areas that are highly
relevant to the QR environment. This paper has focused on some
primary aspects and functional limitations that have been
encountered in multiple situations.
If your systems, or requirements statements, do not include these
needs, it is probable that your future system effectiveness will be
severely degraded. We all recognize that change is constant. Only
too often systems do not keep up with business changes. Systems have
to accommodate the realities of today's business.
The functions of the typical MRP based system, as defined in many
specifications or requirements documents, will provide only a
partial solution for QR oriented manufacturers. In order to avoid
such disappointing results, it is prudent to ensure that people
involved in the systems review are representative of engineering,
cost accounting, production management, and materials/master
It is hoped that this short discussion can be useful to your
company's pursuit of Quick Response—the manifestation of
Just-In-Time and World Class Manufacturing for companies in the
supply chain to the retailer.