Are you controlling your schedule or is your customer? In essence are you attempting to manage surprises with the best tools at your disposal and then hoping for that perfect order to optimize through-put?
We all are challenged to find the right balance for Labour Optimization, Asset Utilization, Material Yield, Environmental Friendliness, Energy Conservation, Logistics’ Optimization among many other priorities to drive through-put targets, inventory management as our customers want it Faster, Better and Cheaper.
In Theory of Constraints these are called “Conflict Clouds” the definition of conflicting priorities that exist within operations. These conflicts will always be around despite the implementation of Enterprise Excellence Tools and enablers.
To find the right balance, instead of being reactive (responding to customer demand) why not take a pro-active approach?
This tactic goes beyond Strategic Planning and can be a fun exercise. Go to a quiet place with your team to design what would be your ideal schedule.
Start by defining the objectives and priorities of your operation. Which are the key enablers that generate cash within your operation?
With focus on your key enablers, review your previous customer order pattern and begin to build a schedule that would optimize around your enabler.
Simple ?? No of course not …
You need to start a list of assumptions about your customer;
Customer’s want your product or service, Faster, Better and Cheaper
Customer’s have no idea about the complexity of your process
Customer’s have no desire to order in a manner to support your optimization
The Customer’s strategic focus is not the same as yours
Providing a working alternative to your customer that is simple and easily adopted will provide dividends to all of the stakeholders.
Next you need to create a simple implementation model that can be readily accepted by customers and suppliers alike. In essence, you begin with a foundation of Engineered and Timed Routes … the external will drive the internal routes. On top of your time routes you can build a simple Kanban system that will keep you connected to actual customer demand.
As you design and build your “Perfect Schedule” make sure that your PFEP (Plan For Every Part) database is built with integrity. The data base can encompass both supplier components but also finished goods.
Finally, as you migrate to the “Perfect Schedule” it will be many re-iterations of Future State implementations. Each implementation will require discussion and agreements with your customers. In many cases, you may already have a good repeatable and consistent demand from your customer. Great !! this is a good foundation from where to build your schedule.
Ultimately the Perfect Schedule will become the Perfect Process. So are you going to begin to manage your customer in a constructive sense or continue to allow them to manage you? In many cases 20% schedule stabilization is a 100% improvement and it can work in any environment.
Contact us for facilitation or help if you are interested in doing this exercise.