Time-Based Manufacturing




Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of implementing a significant TBM, Quality, Reengineering, or other improvement effort is the fact that the process is fundamentally one of organizational change. Regardless of the specific technique being employed (kanbans, work cells, or pareto charts) the greatest challenges and obstacles to successful implementation are usually organizational, or people related.

This is not to imply that people are the main cause of implementation problems or that individuals find it difficult to understand the specific tactics of time-based operations—on the contrary, TBM is largely based on common sense, generally simple tactics that most people can readily learn and understand. Instead, it suggests that the real obstacles to the achievement of significant improvement are often rooted in how people are involved (or not involved!) in the implementation process.

Sharing of information, spending time with people to make them feel comfortable with the changes, explaining people's future roles, dealing with historical perceptions of management's com­mitment to change, and many other people and culture related actions are critical prerequisites to starting a significant improve­ment process and for achieving real and lasting benefit.

Although the approach of do-as-you 're-told-and-don 't-question-orders may be appropriate for the battlefield, it is clearly not the best way of gaining the support and employee involvement that is required to achieve successful organizational change.

What Is Time-based Management?

Before moving through the case study, it is worthwhile to define TBM briefly. Essentially, TBM can be thought of as:

• An operating strategy that directly links the ability of an organization to quickly deliver customer value to the gaining of greater competitive advantage; and

• The continuous reengineering and refinement of business processes to minimize elapsed time and minimize non-value adding activity.

As well, there are several key battle tactics that are typically associated with TBM implementation efforts. These improvement tactics include the following:

• Process reengineering and the elimination of non-value adding activity. TBM efforts require a strong focus on the process—such as order fulfilment, product development, and others—in terms of mapping out current worksteps, analyzing for value and non-value adding activities and opportunities for lead time reduction, and designing new and more streamlined process workflows.

• High degree of employee involvement in the improvement process. Employee teams are today widely recognized for their effectiveness in developing and implementing improve­ments. Although strong management leadership and facilitation support is required for their success, employee teams and overall employee involvement is a critical element of TBM and the obtainment of lasting and significant benefit.

• A strong focus on processes, not functions or departments.

Fast response and short lead times require that functional boundaries (those walls that exist between departments!) be eliminated and that the performance of the process always takes priority over the performance of the individual depart­ment or function.

• Measuring what you want to improve. Measuring what needs to be improved helps to keep everyone strongly focused on the job at hand, and provides feedback as to how much benefit has been gained to date, and how much more needs to be done to reach the specific improvement targets that have been set.

To be Continued


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