Manufacturing Expert Dr Lisa Lang is featured in MoldMaking Technology Magazine


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Manufacturing Expert Dr Lisa Lang is featured in MoldMaking Technology Magazine

  1. 1. Manufacturing Expert Dr Lisa Lang is featured inMoldMaking Technology Magazine The Secret to Getting On Time and Reducing Leadtimes Create a competitive advantage by refocusing your job scheduling strategy.Article From: MoldMaking Technology, Dr. Lisa Lang, President from Science of BusinessJob scheduling plays a big role in our on-time delivery performance and leadtime, whichdetermines our competitive position within our industry. This is particularly true as competitionhas gotten more fierce in recent years. Only the best shops have survived. And those shopshave very good quality and lead the pack in expertise. This means that scheduling is where andhow you can really stand out. But there’s no question that scheduling has its challenges; and,every time we encounter a challenge our schedule is out of date and requires an update.We spend a lot of time updating the schedule. Following are just a few of the commonscheduling challenges that cause us to continually update the schedule: Clients change their mind Vendors aren’t always reliable Mix can vary wildly and so our constraint moves Employees do not always have the right skill and their discipline is lacking Processes are not reliable Machines and tools break Quality is not near perfect Data is not readily available nor accurate nor communicated Communication between silos is difficultMold shops usually don’t have the luxury of making the same parts over and over again. Themix of work and amount of repair/emergency work a shop has can change so dramatically weekto week that their bottlenecks can move, making on-time delivery a real challenge.Most shops have tried a number of strategies to improve their on-time delivery and reduceleadtimes—e.g., updated ERP or scheduling software, used some lean techniques or hired anexpeditor—but, the results are usually not substantial. And, that’s because typical solutionsaddress the various symptoms, but don’t address the root cause. So how do you address theroot cause?How can you dramatically improve your scheduling?The Secret SolutionThe secret is to stop focusing on efficiency. When you are willing to do that, and put a more 1/4
  2. 2. effective scheduling system in place, you create a buffer to better absorb all those sources ofvariability listed above. If you are willing to give this strategy a try and your competitors continueto cling to efficiency, you can create an incredible competitive advantage.So, what does it mean to be efficient? The definition from is “performing orfunctioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort.” Money and costshould be added to that definition. One of the ways we typically apply efficiency in a shop is bykeeping all our equipment and/or people busy so that we don’t waste any capacity and havethe highest possible utilization. But to keep our key resources busy they all must have a job towork on, and to increase the likelihood that all resources have work, we typically make all jobsin house available to be worked on. “Available to be worked on” means included in ourwork-in-process.This max’s out your work-in-process and increases the pile of work at every work center. Thatway all key resources have a very high probability of having something to work on. This isparticularly relevant in shops where the mix of work can change from week to week. That’s oneof the things we do in the name of efficiency.According to Little’s Law there is a direct correlation between the amount of work-in-process wehave and our leadtime. The higher our work-in-process, the longer our leadtimes. Figure 1 is anillustration showing the relationship between work-in-process and leadtime.The more jobs that wait for their turn, the longer the average queuing time, leading to longerproduction leadtimes. Example 1 has the most work-in-process and longest leadtime. And,conversely, Example 3 has the least work-in-process and the shortest leadtime. So, as youincrease work-in-process, you are also increasing your leadtime—not to mention the amount ofcash you have tied up in raw materials. But wait, there’s more—on-time delivery decreases. Thediagram does not include the effect of variability. But if it did, it would show that the variability ofproduction leadtime is increased as the queue grows. So the effect of high work-in-process justgets more dramatic the more variability you have. This directly reduces the on-time deliverybecause it is more difficult to predict the exact production leadtime and to confirm ordersaccordingly.High work-in-process can also have an impact on quality. Many production failures occur earlyin the routing, but are detected much later in the production process (usually at final inspection). 2/4
  3. 3. If work-in-process is high, the average leadtime is also high, causing a long lag time betweenthe production steps and the final inspection. That means the final inspection step occurs a longtime after the step that caused the failure. And because so much time has passed, it can bedifficult to determine and correct the root cause of the quality problem, making improvementvery difficult. Thus, the higher the work-in-process, the harder it is to detect and correct qualityproblems.All of this leads to why you should stop focusing on efficiency. As you stop focusing onefficiency and reduce work-in-process, here’s what happens: Queue time reduces Leadtimereduces Leadtime predictability increases On-time delivery increases Quality increases Cashflow increasesAs a result of these improvements, your production leadtime becomes much shorter (if you do itright) than your quoted leadtime. This difference can be used in two ways. First, it creates abuffer allowing you to absorb a fair amount of variability and further enhancing your on-timedelivery performance. And secondly, the difference is so big that you can also afford to reducethe quoted leadtime to customers.SummaryThe combination of a shorter quoted leadtime and 99-percent + due date performance creates acompetitive advantage. Understanding that all of this is easier said than done, but it’s notphysically hard to do, it is just mentally challenging because we don’t have intuition around thisapproach. Take some time to digest the negative effects an efficiency focus can have on yourshop scheduling.LearnMore: Check out Dr Lisa’s 47 minute webinar How to Get More Jobs Done Faster “Dr. Lisa” Lang is one of the foremost Theory of Constraints experts in the worldand a sought after manufacturing expert having been named the 2012 ManufacturingTrendsetter in the USA Today for her inexpensive and guaranteed Velocity Scheduling SystemCoaching Program that has dramatically improved performance of well over 100 highly customjob shops and machine shops. She has also appeared in CBS News, The Wall Street Journal,,, NY Daily News, CNBC, The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, andothers. She is active in helping reshore manufacturing back to the U.S. and in the NTMA, PMA,and AMT communities having helped member companies to reduce their lead-times andimprove due date performance. She worked with Dr. Goldratt who is the father of Theory ofConstraints and author of the bestselling book, The Goal. Dr Lisa is the President of theScience of Business specializing in increasing profits of highly custom manufacturers byapplying Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma to operations with Velocity SchedulingSystem and to engineering/design with Project Velocity System and to marketing with her MafiaOffer Boot Camp.Here’s the link to the article in MoldMaking TechnologyMagazine: 3/4
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