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Shop Floor Control - Part 3 of 3
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There are very few manufacturers in any industry that Just-In-Time (JIT) has not affected. Whether it's compli­ance labeling, EDI, reduced inventories, preventative main­tenance or cellular manufacturing, a JIT impact has been felt. The shop floor control area is no exception. Some of the advances here include cellular manufacturing, daily production schedules, Kanban replenishment systems and zero inventories. Cellular manufacturing is a practice where the manufacturing process is contained in a single area, as contrasted by a process layout where all like functions are grouped in the same area. The shop floor control benefits from cellular manufacturing by line-of-sight visibility, that is, jobs are visible from start to finish. This significantly reduces the possibilities of batching subassemblies at a work center for transport to another work center and also eliminates transport time. This also makes dispatching less complicated as there is less coordi­nation between work centers. Daily production schedules certainly compliment shop floor control. This practice enhances shop floor control by forcing scheduling and production to spend more time planning build schedules. To publish daily schedules requires good communication of capacity, material availability and current job status be­tween these two groups. It also requires a data base system capable of publishing daily schedules.

A Kanban system, or "card" system, is a pull system that uses cards or containers as a signal to replenish inventory at a specific location. This technique aids the shop floor in the area of the build schedule by controlling how many of what component is on the shop floor. It also provides for visibility on the shop floor—there is space provided for each component and only that component. With this system in place, a material handler can walk down the storage line and visibly determine material availability rather than wait for stockout reports to be generated.

Zero inventories have gotten the lion's share of attention of all components of the JIT evolution. Zero inventories are not an element of JIT, but a byproduct of JIT. By simply cutting inventories, out of tolerance processes will be exposed. If those processes are not corrected, going back to holding inventory will be the only way to keep the factory going. An example here would be batching subassemblies. From a process standpoint, batching is not the best method. Batching has many downsides, one of which is excess inventory in process. By cutting inventory in a batching process, the weaknesses in the assembly process will be exposed. Without improving on that process, the effective­ness of reduced inventory will be minimal.


There are no magic formulas or systems that can be purchased and plugged in that will guarantee immediate shop floor control results. When a shop floor control process that is inadequate is supplemented with a state of the art shop ERP, the net result will be a faster, yet inadequate, shop floor control process. A good shop floor control system consists of:

• frequent communication between scheduling and production
• issuing work to the shop floor with no material shortages
• maintaining realistic, current due dates
• monitoring data base system integrity
• honestly measuring performance

Shop floor control is a "living" process, not a one time schedule load. Proper information and good communica­tion can keep customers happy. If it weren't for customers, we would not be here.

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3 

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