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Manufacturing Control Tools
Part 1 of 3


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Manufacturing Planning and
Control

As John D. Wright once said, "Business is like a bicycle, either you keep moving or you fall down." As we are experiencing in the 90's, the road is no longer downhill or even flat, but all up hill. So, what does it take to keep business pumping up hill in the 90's? Hearing, reading, learning, studying and talking about the APICS professed concepts are definitely required, but one's ability to imple­ment the concepts quickly, with measurable dollar ($) payback to the business, is the only means to keep the bicycle from falling down. The focus of this case study will be on the business and management requirements to successfully implement the conversion of data into viable manufacturing control tools, that in turn support implementing the APICS professed concepts.

Business Background

Armco Advanced Materials Company is a specialty producer of Stainless and Electrical grades of steel. The processing facilities are in Butler, Pennsylvania and Zanesville, Ohio with approximately 2600 employees. The electrical busi­ness is a make-to-stock product where the stainless busi­ness is a make-to-order product. Manufacturing operations include melting, hot rolling, pickling, cold rolling, annealing, slitting and other support operations. We have been catego­rized as a process industry, but our operation is also a batch, repetitive, assembly and disassembly process. Our main objective as a business has not been to figure out how we fit by terminology, but by marching forward developing the data and tools to support the business.

Review of the Computer Evolution

As we are all aware, the computer has been dramatic in changing our businesses and culture. I think it is impor­tant to do a quick review of this evolution starting with the 60's.

• The 60's and 70's initiated the collection of data with a computer
• The 80's led to integrating the collection of the data along with initial tool building, that is, converting the data into information to plan and control the business.
• The 90's are taking advantage of this data developed in the 80's by continuing to develop and implement the control tools.

Armco/AMC and D. Baikey's Evolution in Relation to the Computer Evolution

The objective of this exercise is to learn from the successes and failures of how we collected and integrated data so that we in turn do not put ourselves through those same learning curves in the 90's as we develop the control tools.
My own personal interest in the computer and collecting data initiated back in my high school years in the 60's via a computer tie with Carnegie Mellon University. At which time I worked on my degree in the early 70's, an under­graduate degree in computer science did not exist, there­fore, I majored in math and took all the computer sciencecourses available. It was during this period that my interest was directed away from being a systems analyst to that of being one who would build tools with the computer. This led to my working on a Master's Degree in operations research, that is, to build tools with the computer. During this time period, I still went back to the computer science department to take courses in data structures, since again, without structured data the tool development suffered.

The opportunity to do tool building led to my employment at Armco Advanced Materials Company. During this tool building era, a lot was learned about the 80% rule of why implementation of computer tools does not succeed. To share some of my learning experience, the following is a short recap of why my first project, cheap in the sense it only cost a few million dollars, failed. The objective was to obtain a detailed assessment of what our manufacturing costs were. The end objective was not met due to:

1. The data had to be collected and entered into the computer to do the analysis. A fair portion of time had to be expended to enter and then clean the data.

2. The analysis drowned in detail with use of the regres­sion analysis tool.

3. No one thought about the fact that you had to maintain it.

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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