This allows us to fulfill our promises. Quite o;en, a;er analyzing our capacity
and bottlenecks, we see that we won’t be able to meet a customer’s requested
delivery date, but all we need is one or two extra days. Before accepting the job,
we call the customer and request two extra days, and customers almost always
agree. If they need the job sooner, they may go elsewhere, but that’s fine. In the
long run, losing a little bit of work is better than having to overpromise and un-derdeliver.
Scheduling isn’t perfect, and this is again where those monitors on the floor
play an important role. If an operation has a long cycle time, like a machining job,
so;ware automatically sends an email alert when it’s, say, 70 percent through
the operation. At that point team leaders check with the operator to see if the job
is on track. This helps us be proactive.
And if a job is late, team leaders see the problem and respond immediately
by providing the resources to free the bottleneck. Ultimately, so;ware helps
us all lend a hand when people need it most, before things snowball into larger
Getting From Point A to B
The industry uses all sorts of technical-sounding terms: finite capacity scheduling, infinite capacity scheduling, and more. We use a form of backward scheduling, which takes the due date and schedules processes backward: e.g., shipping,
packaging, assembly, grinding and polishing, welding, weld prep, bending, deburring, and cutting.
People will debate the validity of the various scheduling methods. But from
our perspective, technical terms don’t really matter. We just want to get a job
from point A to B, from raw stock to the shipping dock, in the least amount of
During the past two years our on-time delivery has improved from 89 percent to 95 percent. And our velocity has increased tremendously. We measure
velocity by comparing actual time to the estimated manufacturing time that’s
planned for in the schedule. If they are the same, the measurement is a 1-to- 1
ratio, or 1.0.
Two years ago, we averaged 2. 75, meaning the actual time was more than
double the estimated time. Today we’re at 0.87, meaning that the actual time
is less than the estimated time. Sequential manufacturing has helped us get
For more information about The FABRICATOR’s Leadership Summit and FMA Annual
Meeting, visit www.fmanet.org/annualmeeting.
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