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The MRP/LINE CAPACITY MANAGEMENT strategies developed as a result of several iterations of techniques. In the rush of activity to implement MRP and MRPII during the 1980's, attempts were made to use MRP and associated lot sizing techniques for all of our components required to execute the Master Schedule. This management approach towards total MRP proved to be inappropriate. We then migrated to an approach (the current methodology), that allowed for organizational teams to tailor their Inventory Management strategy to best fit their process, products and items. Some items were stored in a central storeroom, while other items were stored on the line. Some items were delivered several times a day (bulky, expensive, shelf life elements), while others would be delivered quarterly, and stored on the line. Some items use the "Bread Store" concept, other items were stored on consignment. The basic goals for each line were the same in Inventory Management Measurements: high inventory turns, minimum lea'd times on "A" items and availability of supply.

The use of MRP vs Replenishment Methods (based on past or future usage) for each item is determined by the material planner in the organization team. Independent of the focused factory planners, were two people that ordered common stock items, which we call "D items," that were stored in the Central Storeroom. Items only become candi­dates for this status if no other planning provided a better methodology.

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Shop Floor Management

SHOP FLOOR MANAGEMENT functions were executed by the Operating group in the focused factory, with a lot of involvement by Materials Management. No shop floor control systems were in use, throughput time reduction precluded the necessity. An example: one product that we built had a manufacturing lead time of 12 weeks in our functional shop configuration, which was reduced to less than 45 minutes in the new layout. The 45 minutes repre­sented the total time required, from the beginning of the first part assembly, to the completed product in the pack­aged box, with the customer address printed on the ship­ping label arriving at the shipping dock. Such intervals made shop floor control systems unnecessary.

Our scheduling techniques for high and low volume lines all had the same philosophy: change as often as possible. Wherever possible we would run multiple products on every line every day. A plastic molding and surface mount technology constraint caused us to change products every day. The second month into this frequent change strategy, Manufacturing reported a 50% improvement in the Parts Per Million (PPM) quality level. What we found is that because of the frequent change, we only repeated the top 10% of the learning curve before "coming up to speed." This scheduling technique was initially unpopular with the engineering and operating groups, because of the fre­quency of line changes that were required. This approach was gradually being accepted, and was still being discussed as an issue when I left the cell. Although unpopular, both operating and engineering were willing to support daily scheduling because of the significant improvement the approach provided in terms of improving quality and reducing parts shortages. It was obvious to everyone that the daily scheduling leveled our component schedules for material to the extent that we had virtually no shortages. This was a radical change from the frequent parts meetings that we had gone through in the past. No one wanted voluntarily return to the unpopular daily shortage meet­ings that we had held for so long. Daily meetings are still held, but concern themselves with process problems and solutions rather than parts shortages.

To be Continued


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