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Executive Direction and Support

• Business strategy is being driven using the concepts of Focus and Synchronous Manufacturing. With the business units focused, the tools can more simply support those individual business needs.
• Providing the necessary resources to develop the tools. Yes, we are downsizing like other businesses, but the resources are being provided to develop the tools to support the downsizing actions.
• Need to create and monitor your key business mea­surements. Without measurements, you will not know if your tools are providing the return that you are looking for. Examples are on-time shipment, lead time, inventory turns and etc.

Make-up of Materials Management Organization and Personnel

• When I moved to the Materials Management organiza­tion in the early 80's, I was only the second person with any information/systems background. Today, there are at least a dozen.
• Group is now focused along the lines of the APICS structure:
— Master Planning
— Master Scheduling
— Detail Scheduling
— Production Activity Control
— Inventory management

This focused structure helps in defining and prioritiz­ing areas of tool development, measurement and ac­countability.

• Group has been professionalized. Main feed to Mate­rials Management has been from our Information Technology (IT) development group.
• Lost my status as being the only CPIM at our plant. Today we have more than 10 CPIM's in our Materials Management, Maintenance and Information Technol­ogy groups and more are working towards certifica­tion.
Excellent Data Architecture Is a Must
• Without a good data architecture your tools will suffer and require a lot of extra effort to develop and pull data together.
• Our business is changing very fast, so the tools to support the changes must be able to change fast. If the architecture is poor, your speed to deal with the business change will be poor.
• For best results, you want the tools pulling data from the live data base or a mirror image of that data base. We have survived with running our tools against a midnight copy of the live data base and are still working towards developing a mirror image copy.

Approach

• Concepts are simple so keep the tools simple. As we develop, the simpler we keep the tool, the easier it is to use and more important, maintain to support the business changes!
• Understand that you are not going to build a tool within a widow of time and be done. Truth is, you are never done! You can continually make the tools sim-
pler and more efficient. Also, the business changes will continue to require updates to the tools.
• Have found the best approach is to design the tool and get it into the users' hands quick, that is, do not spend a lot of time in the design stage. This is contrary to the systems development approach where it was more important to spend a lot of time designing and little time implementing. We have found it difficult to design the tool without trying to put it into action quick and see if the tool will help or hinder us.
• So much information can be provided, therefore, you must be careful not to drown in it.
• Have used simple 4th generation programming lan­guages to build the initial tools. Advantage we have had is that we the user can develop and maintain it and not rely on our Information Technology group for easy changes.
• Spend time with your customer. The tools need to support your internal needs and measurements, but the key factor is that you must be viewed as a success by your customer.
• The building and use of the tools drive the integrity of the data to higher levels. The tools have made the root data problems stand out very strong and help focus support to correct them.
• As with the data development, you need to maintain a simple written procedure copy of how to use the tools to support your process control.


The 60's, 70's and 80's have been exciting. The 90's have been no exception and are even more of a challenge to us. I wish you the best in your efforts to be successful in converting data into information in the 90's.

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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