AUGUST 2017 The FABRICATOR 41
defeat, and lots of grumbling, people
respond methodically. In other words,
it is just another job.
No longer an expediter, Mary now
is a production coordinator. Forward-looking and proactive, she conducts
daily, 10- to 15-minute standup production meetings with front-line supervisors. She establishes priorities
for the day, identifies issues at production department levels, and shifts
resources around as necessary.
What if the unexpected happens?
For instance, sales takes a call from an
important customer who wants to drop
an order into the plant short of the
agreed upon delivery date. What now?
Mary checks material availability,
decides how to sequence the new order into the current load on the floor,
briefs the production supervisors so
they know that a new order is coming,
and turns it loose. It’s just another job.
No big deal. No drama. In most cases,
it is business as usual since throughput times have been shortened significantly.
But what if a customer requests
a lead time that’s even shorter than
the shop’s new throughput time? In
this case, Mary has a bit more work to
do, but she still approaches it calmly
and methodically—no chaos. Since
the plant is running smoothly, Mary
can quickly assess the work load on
the affected work centers. Once she
knows which operation is the greatest constraint, she can focus on taking
appropriate countermeasures to bust
that constraint. Maybe that means
moving a couple of orders around to
handle the drop-in order. Maybe it
means a couple hours of overtime on
the constraint operation.
Can the plant work through the
constraint? If it can, Mary determines
a plan for getting the drop-in order
through. If not, she calculates the best
date based on being aggressive, but
not turning the plant upside down,
and bounces it back to the customer.
Mary supports this new date with
data, which takes most of the emotion out of the conversation.
All of this should be done without stress, emotion, or fear
of failure. Mary’s company can turn what otherwise would
have been a maddening disruption into just another job—
and a competitive advantage.
We are not trying to put expediters like Harold and Mary
out of work. Quite the contrary. They obviously have talents
and know lots about the business. The goal should be to
change the work they do to be forward-looking. When we
make our processes robust, the drop-in order, rush order, or
other disruption becomes just another job. No drama, just
Jeff Sipes is principal of Back2Basics LLC, 317-439-7960, www.
back2basics-lean.com. Want to know more or have a suggestion for a future Continuous Improvement topic? Contact Sipes
at email@example.com or Senior Editor Tim Heston