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Shop Floor Control - Part 2 of 3
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Traditionally, there have been two methods to monitor shop floor activity: the hot list and the dispatch list. The hot list typically is a hand written note from a scheduler containing a priority listing. The dates are irrelevant because they are usually past due. The message to produc­tion is "do this no matter what the cost". The hot list does not look at capacity or hours per build, rather is more of a way "around" the data base. The dispatch list is a system generated report that will list jobs, quantities and due dates of jobs going through a particular work center. Ideally, the format and the content will be designed from the input of its primary users: scheduling and production. Looking into the last statement a little further, it only makes sense that the primary users have input into the tools that they will be using. In the past, however, scheduling and production were adversaries. It is critical to the effectiveness of shop floor control that these two areas work hand in hand. That does not mean that scheduling produces a schedule and production must ad­here to that schedule "no questions asked". It does not mean that production will receive a schedule and run "whatever is easiest". What this does mean is that these two groups will work as partners. Scheduling will put out a schedule based on current customer needs. Production may look at that schedule and recommend that the quan­tity is acceptable but by slightly changing the priority order, some setup time could be eliminated and overtime could be avoided. Or because of a material shortage the scheduling team may recommend building Friday's sched­ule on Monday and then build Monday's schedule on Friday so production can continue running. This kind of dialogue between scheduling and production leads to effective shop floor control.

Measuring Performance

There are few things in life that can capture someone's attention as measuring specific task performance. Ameri­can society is almost obsessed with keeping score. Every year there are lists published measuring everything from the richest to the best dressed. American industry should be no exception. Yet many manufacturers aren't quite sure what their on-time delivery percentage is. The late Casey Stengel said it best, "If you're not sure where you're going, any road will get you there". From a shop floor control standpoint, performance measurement is critical. What percentage of jobs are passing through each work center on time? What percentage of jobs are one day late, two days late or greater than three days late? To really control the shop floor, these are questions that need to be answered. There are some fundamentals to measuring performance:

• Choosing something measurable
• Don't act simply to satisfy performance numbers
• Be honest

When choosing performance criteria, it is important to choose something that is measurable. One of the easiest measurements to capture is information from the data base. The sophistication of the data base may have an impacton the measurements taken. Other measurements, such as throughput time, may be more difficult to compile. It's up to the user to determine if each measurement justifies the means to compile it. Don't become so obsessed with reaching performance numbers that it gets in the way
of business decisions. For example, working excessive overtime just to meet performance criteria may not be a good business decision. Finally, either you meet your performance measurement or not. A performance target should be moving by improvement, not convenience. If performance measurements are adjusted to satisfy man­agement, sooner or later the adjustments will be discov­ered. Performance should be meaningful to everyone. The measurement may be most meaningful if monitored by an independent party

Management Role

Successfully maintaining shop floor control requires man­agement support. That support should come in the form of level scheduling, realistic due dates and encouraging open communication between scheduling and the production floor.

Maintaining a level schedule is easier said than done. In an era where customer satisfaction is paramount, it can be easy to get sidetracked trying to cover constantly changing customer requirements. But with management support, and a little initiative, it is possible to satisfy customer demand and maintain a stable, level schedule. Keeping a level schedule may require holding some inventory, either at a component level or an end item level. This is not to randomly bring in inventory to have on hand, but to analyze business trends or product makeup and strategically bring in the appropriate inventory. Again, easier said than done. But, with management support, where policies addressing this situation are signed off, maintaining a level schedule is feasible.

Management support with realistic due dates can also have a big impact. Here management needs to incorporate and monitor a discipline. As discussed earlier, it is not possible to complete on time a job that was due yesterday. Nor is it possible to build 200 hours of work in 100 hours. Manage­ment must actively push for realistic schedules.

Management must also provide an environment where scheduling and production work as a team toward a com­mon goal. With the scheduling and production areas working together as a team, the potential of developing shop floor control performance is tremendous. Tradition­ally, the scheduling and production relationship is not a natural one. Management needs to create an environment that encourages that relationship to grow.

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3 

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