• 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.
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
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
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.
• 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
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