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.
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
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
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
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