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Planning Vs. Execution - Part 5 of 5

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   Suppose first the machine we deal with is a non-con­straint. In such a case there should not be any specific sequence the operator needs to adhere to. If the parts for Product A are not available, let's start Product B. The next day, the parts for Product A arrive. Well, we are not going to switch over to Product A, because we should not fol­low any strict sequence. However, Product B takes a whole week. It may happen that the whole week of being busy with Product B confines the shipping buffer (or CCR buffer, depending on which buffer is ahead) too much, leaving too little time for Product A to arrive on time. Only when this happens does the order for Product A get precedence, and we'll need to stop processing B and switch to A. No harm is done, as wasting time on a non-con­straint has no negative effect.


What if the machine we deal with is the CCR? Then we should have looked for the parts several days ago! Such an occurrence should be very rare. Well, if we failed to bring in the parts for the CCR on time—harm is go­ing to be caused. If the setup is not too long, I'd start with Product B, then switch to A and then back to B. Otherwise, replanning the CCR is inevitable—trying our best not to disrupt the deliveries.

As missing parts to the constraint should be a rare exception, whenever it happens we should inquire what caused the unfortunate incident, why the problem wasn't spotted on time (the buffer was fully exhausted and we reacted only then). It should not happen again.


   There is a temptation to merge planning decisions with execution decisions. Once you realize you have to deviate from the planning, it seems the right thing to plan from scratch. The negative impact on the organization is dev­astating. Frequent replanning is the same as no planning. And without the longer-term and global outlook of good planners, the performance of the organization becomes unpredictable. Note also that in such unstable perfor­mance no feedback can be used for learning and improv­ing the planning-execution processes. Without any clear expectations regarding performance, the meaning of de­viation from expectations is lost. We usually learn from gaps between expectations, usually set by a "plan," and actual outcomes. When expectations are vague, how do you trigger your learning?

What TOC suggests is to look at the planning side in a new light. Let's acknowledge the uncertainty around, and plan with enough buffers to allow flexibility in the execution stage, while still being able to stick to what is truly important. Once you set such a plan, the execu­tion decision rules center on following the plan, moni­toring the buffers and fixing the delays that really matter.

Part 1  Part 2   Part 3  Part 4  Part 5

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