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Competitive Factory Scheduling

 

PART I. 

 

The control of manufacturing activities and the knowledge of impending crises before they occur are primary weapons of profit-oriented manufacturers in today's competitive marketplace. How­ever, even today, there are some companies that take orders and promise delivery of goods with little or no idea of their true manufacturing ability with regard to serving their customers in the time periods being quoted. As these companies fail to deliver, as they most frequently do, their customers look to other suppliers who are more credible and reliable in their demonstrated delivery performance. The manufacturers that use Factory Scheduling techniques in their factories have a significant competitive weapon that their counterparts do not have. These manufacturers are executing their competitors, forcing them into layoffs and unem­ployment, by better performance and management of the factory floor. This paper addresses those concepts and how we, as professional fhanagers, can improve our own destinies.

Today the meaning of job security has disappeared. This is a tragic loss to all of us. Today we all must work more effectively. We all must become jacks-of-all-trades. We must know salesmanship, engineering, and materials management, and we must understand and exercise practical and ethical business conduct. Our world has changed.

Those of us here have the challenge of controlling manufacturing activities and to have the knowledge of impending crises before they occur. Profit-oriented manufacturers, in today's market­place, use this challenge as a primary weapon in their attack in the war on competitiveness. Those companies that take orders and promise deliveries with little or no regard to their manufacturing ability or profit performance are failing as more credible and reliable performance is demonstrated by others. When the people of a company fail, a company fails. Job security today is non­existent. Every day, each of us, is in a battle. The manufacturers that use reliable, effective Factory Scheduling techniques in their business have a significant weapon that their counterparts do not. Not only does a manufacturer that uses competitive weapons improve his own position in the marketplace, but by so doing, is executing and eliminating the competitors through improved factory management.

Who has the responsibility for the competitive weapon of using reliable and effective Factory Scheduling techniques? Why, those of us attending this conference do. Whether we have the leader­ship responsibility today or not is not germane. In time, each of us will have that leadership role. If we are not prepared to proceed aggressively, now or then, we deserve the defeat that surely awaits us. It is our attitudes, not our skills, that determine what we can do as professionals and how our company is perceived and received in the marketplace. The personal attitudes of integrity, loyalty, enthusiasm, trust, vision, creativity, persistence, consis­tency,versatility, and many others account for what we can do and how we go about accomplishing our responsibilities. We need to encourage those attitudes in ourselves, as well as others around us, because when one of us succeeds in our company we all succeed.

Factory Scheduling involves many different production sched­uling techniques that deal with Order Servicing, Production Control, Material Procurement, Engineering, and Factory Man­agement issues. Factory Scheduling is not exclusively a computer-based system. It is one that uses some computer support, as well as other business systems. The primary key is the managerial insight into the manufacturing processes and control that is provided by you and others within your company.

Just what is Factory Scheduling? Perhaps the term itself is too nebulous, so let us review some of the elements that Factory Scheduling contains. Factory Scheduling:

• Is easy to understand.

• Identifies labor requirements for all work centers.

• Identifies capacity for those work centers.

• Supports multiple production scheduling techniques.

• Supports lead time reduction efforts.

• Supports critical-path scheduling relationships when material constraints are to be considered.

• Communicates directly with the Master Production Schedule, Final Assembly Plan, and Sales Order Shipping Schedules.

• Is on-line oriented.

• Uses graphic presentations for visual understanding.

• Provides direction of what to do and when.

• Identifies problems before they occur so they can be addressed and corrected.

• Provides a basis for business agreement on priorities.

• Supports a proactive profit-oriented form of management.

The time for confusing numbers appearing on reports and CRT screens is over. Today, we must be visionaries. We must see, visualize, and understand what is going on in our factories. Visual graphics, animation, and simulations should be used to allow us to "see" the factory. Military generals visualize each battlefield with models and graphic support. Fighter pilots use Heads-Up Displays to see their combat zone. We in production management must have and demand to have similar tools for competitiveness. A question. Can we and are we prepared to use these tools? If not, now is the time to start that preparation.

There are different types of factory information that when pre­sented visually allow us to have a better understanding of what is happening within our factories. The following are some examples:

• Customer Service Performance

• Queue Performance

• Plant Capacity

Shop Order Performance Material Availability Performance Capacity Utilization Accuracy of Lead Times in Routings Accuracy of Job Status Information Vendor Delivery Compliance

• Work List Compliance

• Special Projects and Product Line Performance

• WIP Trends

The information needed to present this information is commonly available in most businesses, yet most of us don't have the time, desire, or inclination to organize, present, and understand the data. Profit-oriented manufacturers consider this type of visual­ization a requirement within their organizations. If this type of information is available and it can be used, use it.

Who has the vision of competitiveness? In those companies that have been blessed by profit-oriented owners and managers some have stepped forward and crossed that illusive line in the sand, those are the ones that have stood up to commit resources to the competitive war. They have made a statement to themselves, their compatriots, and their customers that This Company Will Deliver!

Costs for resources (people, money, and equipment) are a major factor used in business decisions. The real costs involved with Factory Scheduling are normally one-eighth of what one machine tool costs for the factory floor. The payback period for most companies is under two years. What a small investment in the war on competitiveness.

To be Continued


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