August 30, 2004
Companies seeking a cost advantage over
competitors usually zero in early on labor costs. Wage levels in
particular are an obvious target. Cutting people and/or wages and
benefits may gain a temporary reprieve from Chapter 11, but they are
rarely the key to a sustainable competitive advantage. Because they
sour workforce attitudes, wage cuts often put out of reach the
productivity gains that could be obtained by more skilled, sensitive
management of human resources.
For example, training the work force in
added skills, can permit more flexibility in job assignments, and
that in turn can boost shop-floor results. This more flexible use of
labor has enabled companies to convert from MRP shop order
"launch and expedite" systems to the processes of flow
technology. The success of such a changeover is dependent on a
highly trained, flexible workforce that can design and dynamically
balance sequential production work cells. The results can be
exciting --- typical reductions beyond MRP gains are 20% production
costs, 40% space requirements, 25% inventory, 40% quality costs, and
40% cycle times.
Effective shop floor control has proven
elusive as we have upgraded our manufacturing control system from
MRP to MRPII and then to ERP. To capture control of shop floor
activities, we need to stop beating a "dead horse" and
start implementing and improving sequential production processes.
The winners turn to Kaizen Based Lean Manufacturing; you can too! To
check it out go to:
Business Basics, LLC
BEST MANUFACTURING PRACTICES (BMP) BULLETIN
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Knowledge for Manufacturing People
We experience creativity every time a fresh idea pops into our
minds. We recognize creative imagination in everything from a pastel
painting to a business plan. In corporations of the future, the
ability to brainstorm will become a very vital daily ritual, which
can motivate your company to new levels of innovation.
These ten tips will support you and your
organization's best thinkers to bend, stretch, and grow your product
1. Substitute someone else's perspective for
2. How would a worker, customer,
distributor, salesman, service people, or cost accountant approach
your idea or subject? Don't know? Ask them!
3. Look at your idea through the eyes of a
critic. For each idea, make a list of all criticisms that may arise.
Try to develop as many solutions as possible for overcoming
obstacles or repairing weaknesses in your idea.
4. Connect your idea to other types of
manufacturing companies and countries. Can you make an analogy, and
what ideas can you draw upon from these fields and worlds?
5. Magnify your idea. What can you do to
enlarge, expedite, extend, strengthen, exaggerate, dramatize, or
improve your idea?
6. Simplify your idea. Can you condense,
trim down, compact, minimize, or narrow your idea?
7. Change your idea. Modify the name, shape,
form, function, and properties of your idea.
8. Make your idea meet the needs and wants
of the customers. Does your idea meet the basic needs and wants of
more quality, profit, time, space, convenience, customer service and
speed? If not, alter your idea to meet one if not all of these needs
9. Add more value. What will add more value?
Add extra features, durability, safety, thickness, uses, accuracy,
10. Examine what others have done. Emulate
professionals and experts who have had great success with a similar
idea or product. Are you facing a problem that has already been
solved? Use the past as a tool for experimentation and learning.
Flip a coin. When you cannot make a
decision, flip a coin. Once the coin falls, use your intuition and
gut to make a decision. If you feel comfortable with the result, go
with it. If you feel uncomfortable with the coin toss, make the
To discover why and how manufacturing winners are mastering
Bill Gaw’s “10-Basics of Strategic Planning,” go to:
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