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Manufacturing Control Tools
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During my initial tool building years, a strong point that continued to stand out was the fact that we were developing tools without the end user involved. Without their input and relationship during the development phase, when the finished product was presented to them they had no interest in its use.

In the early to mid 80's I left the tool building side of the computer and went to the data development side as a user and not a systems analyst. Our management at this point learned that the users of the computer systems had to be involved in their development. Let's say they understood the concept, but truly only gave it lip service. This was proved as I was put on special assignment in the later 80's to move along faster our data and tool building develop­ments. This time I had proof of management lip service, as my salary and users to be on the project team were part of the project budget. It was the first time I could show at the time the project deadline was reached, that we did not succeed because of non-support. I still had half the project moneys in hand at which time the project was to be completed.

Needless to say, the project effort was stopped and I was assigned as a Master Scheduler of our Hot Working group. This was an interesting and valuable assignment. I viewed this as being back in the tool building side of the computer again. During this short period we were able to build two strong material planning and flow control tools. Why was this able to happen:

1. I, as the user drove and worked on the tool develop­ment and could modify the tools as they were being developed.
2. Through past APICS education and certification, I was able to learn and understand the overall process flow quickly.
3. I was supported within our Operations Research group.

The Window of Dramatic Business Change and Success

During the period of my last project assignment and Master Scheduling role, our management was at work to improve the overall business development and direction. The outcome of this successful effort was:

1. Driving the business strategy utilizing Focus Manu­facturing concepts.
2. Implementing the concepts of Synchronous Manufac­turing.
3. Defining the business needs to support building the data architecture.
4. True management support of project development and obtainment of targeted results.

In 1989 I had the opportunity to go back to the project development role to again be a party in developing the data architecture after the new management process was imple­mented. No words can truthfully describe the change. The reasons for success:

1. Time completion was limited to 1 year.
2. Executive and project team accountable for budget and time window. Budget was met and effort implemented in 13 months.
3. Management support provided. System and user project personnel provided when requested. Never had to follow up and make the request a second time.
4. Simple project methodology and management control tools were used.
5. Effort was a defined piece of the overall business strategy.
6. It was the only large active development effort for the year.

The only fallback of the project effort was that a portion of the control tools to be developed were tabled. Management understood this, but was adamant that the structure had to be completed.

The 90's, the Window of Opportunity for Control Tool Development

In the early 90's I had the opportunity to leave the product side of the business and go to the maintenance arena. At that time, we were able to implement the APICS professed concept of Master Planning. For further development it' was necessary to start all over again in mapping out the data architecture to support maintenance as a business.

After this short window of time I was requested to return to the product side of the business. During this window Armco purchased Cyclops Industries and initiated a joint venture in the USA with Ascerinox of Spain. Management again drove these business strategies utilizing the busi­ness concepts of Focus manufacturing.

In my return to the product side, I learned quickly that we had not moved onward with the manufacturing control tool development. At that time I told our company president, that with the data architecture we had in place, we as a business were sitting on a goldmine of opportunity. We had not even begun to break the ice.
Efforts have been initiated and are continuing to build the tools and take advantage of the gold mine of data. Is this conversion of data into information easy? From my per­spective, no. It sounds simple, but if it was so simple I believe most of us would be a lot further along than we currently are. We today are succeeding, maybe not at the pace we want to be succeeding, but we are succeeding. The following are my feelings as to why we are succeeding. You will recognize some of the same points that allowed us to succeed in developing the data architecture.

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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