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论老子

道,领导也。领导必需要不断呼唤,教导下属以及以身作则。下属的过和错皆因领导懒惰。

 
 
 

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Chapter 2: Production planning window  

2012-06-24 12:51:01|  分类: Buffer Mentality |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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For the first two months on my job as a HOS (Honeywell Operating System) site leader I worked closely with the production operators to carry out Kaizen. Together we identified 592 Kaizen opportunities and more than 80% of these were implemented by the operators most of which were executed in less than a week. This is the strongest proof that they are hard-working people and they are looking forward to do a better job and make a better work place for themselves.

A quick recall on my first day to this Bintan plant, the site leader, Samuel Siew (who is also my boss) was very frustrated with the poor level of housekeeping, requested me to get the employees on board the Kaizen movement to begin with tidying up the shop floor. I agreed with him one of the best ways to go about imbuing a continuous improvement culture is to kick-start the Kaizen movement.

After Samuel left the shop floor, Benny, the assistant operations manager who was together with me during the line tour introduced me to Siti, the facilitator who is in charge of 4 of the 11 production lines that assemble and test the Kansas products. Siti has been with the company for more than 2 years.

I asked Siti, “Hi Siti! I am Eric Woon, the new HOS site leader who just came on board. How do you lead your team of associates (production operators) to participate in Kaizen activities?”

Siti replied, “Honestly, I do not have time for Kaizen. I spent most of my time in the day chasing for parts. When the shortage parts arrived I quickly re-prioritize the production schedule and get my people work on it immediately. The on-time delivery has been extremely low at 21% for the last week and the backlog is more than a month’s worth of demand.”

I asked a probing question, “Does the production planner gives you a weekly schedule or a daily schedule?” In my mind, there is a huge difference in the production schedule when it is planned with a daily planning window or a weekly planning window mindset.

Siti replied, “Oh! It is a daily production schedule. In each of the five days in a week the quantity of units of a particular model to be produced is stated clearly. However, due to the frequent part shortages, I have to re-schedule the production orders based on the arrival of parts that make up a full kit. A mere shortage of one part means a particular production order cannot be launched for it will sit in the line as incomplete WIP, sometimes waiting for days.”

I asked a closed question, “Do you mean you have to re-prioritize the production order everyday? Can’t you follow strictly what the planner had planned for you for each of the five work days?”

Siti lamented, “No way. When Rina, the production planner put up the production plan for this week last Friday, she is expecting some parts to come in within this week. But really she does not know exactly which day the parts will come in. Therefore, I have to follow up with the receiving clerk to expedite these parts and like-wise, follow through to get the receiving inspectors to expedite the receiving inspection for these parts.”

I exclaimed, “Wow! You must be very busy chasing for parts. How much time do you spend in a day in chasing for parts in order to finally enable you to re-prioritize your production schedule for the day?”

Siti kept silence for a few minutes and slowly she said, “Well, I spent about 5 hours a day. My day starts with updating in my Excel worksheet the latest stock take of the line inventory and together with the inventory status of shortage parts I list down which of the outstanding products that I would focus on to get them moving for the day. Of course, the exact product number to move is dependent on the time of arrival of the shortage parts.”

I nodded my head and acknowledged that she indeed has no time to spare for Kaizen activities. Therefore, Siti must first be able to free up some of her time spent in chasing for shortage parts before she can find time for Kaizen.

However, I was a little confused if she has answered my question correctly. I need to probe for the answer to clear my doubt. I asked, “Does the production planner give you a weekly schedule or a daily schedule?

Let me make my question clearly to you. I defined a daily production schedule as one where the production planner plans today for tomorrow production and repeat that everyday from Monday to Friday. It seemed to me that the production schedule that Rina is producing is a weekly schedule where she planned by this Friday for the whole of next week’s production schedule. What she did was she merely breaks up the whole of next week output requirements into five equal parts and lined them up from Monday to Friday.

Siti, when did Rina give you the production schedule? Is it once a week or once every day?”

Sit replied, “Not everyday. She only gave it to me every Friday afternoon.”

I nodded my head and I began to predict the kind of problems that the receiving clerk and receiving inspectors are facing in order to expedite the urgent shortage parts. I said, “Thank you for your frank discussion, Siti.”

I turned around and headed straight to the receiving store to find out what the receiving clerk and receiving inspectors do in a day’s work. First, I stopped at the receiving clerk, Supri’s desk.

“Hi Supri, I am the new HOS manager. I understand from Siti that she comes down to your desk and hands you a list of parts to expedite. May I have a look at her latest list?”

Supri flipped through a stack of papers. Two minutes later he handled over to me an A5-size (an A4 size piece of paper cut into half) piece of paper.

I went through the list. There were more than 20 items in the list and some of them were crossed out. I assumed Supri must have processed these few crossed-out items. I asked Supri, “Do all the other facilitators pass you similar slips of paper telling you what the urgent parts are?”

Supri replied, “Yes, all 6 facilitators passed me a list at the beginning of the week. Some times toward the middle of the week, some of them may pass me a revised list.”

I made a quick calculation in my mind. “6 multiplied by 20 equals to 120 urgent items.” I commented to Supri, “This is a long list of urgent parts. It is about 120 items. Do you find any difficulty in prioritizing these parts?”

Supri replied, “Of course it is difficult for me. Some times the total number of items on these urgent lists can be as high as 200. I have to dig through the few pallets of parts delivered from a 20-foot container and search for these urgent items first. Otherwise, the production folks will scream at me.”

I sympathized with him. I said, “I understand it is not easy to search through the pallets for all 120 urgent parts. You have to cross them out one by one.”

“No,” exclaimed Supri, “Not all the urgent parts come in the same container. Everyday, a 20-foot container arrives. I don’t know which urgent parts are shipped from Singapore and on which day until I read the shipping list. Therefore, I have to frequently cross reference to the same list with more and more struck out items as the week goes by. To track and read out each remaining item in the list, it is such a headache.”   

In my mind, a long list of urgent parts means nothing is urgent anymore. It is quite impossible for a receiving clerk to expedite 120 items a day when the number of parts received per day is about 120 parts. Certainly the majority of the parts in the urgent list are a compilation of all the shortage parts that are expected to be arriving over the entire week.

Going back to the principle of short interval control, the smaller the production planning window, the shorter the urgent list. Short interval control means the process cycle should be reduce to as short as possible.

For example, if the production planners create the urgent list once a week on every Friday afternoon for the shortage parts that are determined to be arriving next week with no certainty of which day a particular part will arrive, it will be very difficult for the receiving clerk to track down all the 120 parts shown in the urgent list.

However, if the production planner were to list down the urgent parts every day for tomorrow’s arrival, certainly the number of urgent parts shown in the urgent list will be 1/5 the weekly list of 120 urgent parts. That means, the list is only about 24 items.

Quite confident of the solution that I have up in my sleeve, I suggested to Supri, “Do you think it is a good idea to reduce the number of urgent parts in the list?”

“Certain that will be a big help,” exclaimed Supri, “Provided you have an answer to that.”

“Wait a minute,” I hold on to my solution and sought to clarify an important point. I asked “Today, it seems to me that all the 6 facilitators give you an urgent list. Do the production planners give you another list too?”

“Yes, the production planners do give me a list every Friday. That makes my job so much more difficult. I have to entertain the facilitators and the production planners as well. Sometimes, I don’t know who holds the higher priority. Is it the production planners or the facilitators?

To make things worse, sometimes the two lists call out for the same parts. Are they double counting?”

I sympathized with Supri, “Yes, too many cooks spoil the soup. You are one little Indian who has to answer to the urgent lists prepared by several chiefs. I have an idea to help you to reduce the number of items in the urgent list. But let me find out a little more from the receiving inspectors. I need to know whether they too, face the same problem or not.”

Supri responded quickly. He said, “They too, share the same problem like I do. It can only be worse for them. I photocopied the same lists that I am holding. However, the parts that they have to search through are split into two areas. One, the pile of parts which I have checked and labeled with an RDR (Receiving Disposition Receipt) document. Some of the parts are still with me at the receiving area where an RDR has not been raised yet.”

“Thank you Supri for your frank and open discussion. I look towards working with you to shorten the urgent list.” I shook his hand and turned for the receiving inspection area.

“Hi Dedy, I am Eric Woon, the new HOS manager. Who is in-charge of receiving inspection department?” I read the name sewn onto the smock of one of the receiving inspectors. He is Dedy Hendrawan. He is a tall guy and has a boyish look.

“I am Dedy. I am the lead receiving inspector. Bayu, the in-coming quality control engineer is our supervisor. How can I help you, Pak[1] Eric?” said Dedy.

“Yes, Dedy. May I have a look at your urgent list? I supposed you have to expedite items in this list ahead of the rest, everyday.” I explained to him the purpose of my visit to the receiving inspection area.

“Pak Eric, you are very sharp. I am facing this problem everyday. It is such a big headache. I am being chewed up everyday for not clearing the parts in the urgent lists fast enough for the production department. Please have a look at the lists. How do I know which part is urgent when there are more than 100 parts on the lists.” Dedy shook his head.

“This is precisely the reason why I am here today. I would love to give you an immediate solution. May I suggest if I were to offer you a solution to reduce the number of items in the urgent lists to one-fifth, would it lighten your load?” I asked Dedy.

He exclaimed, “Certainly, that will make my life a lot more easier. Please tell me how.” Dedy’s eyes brightened up and he was very eager to know how that could be possible.

“I have to set two conditions to make this happen. One, only the production planners can decide what goes into the urgent list. Two, the production planners must produce the urgent list everyday and this urgent list is good only for tomorrow. What do you think?”

“Yeap! This is a very neat solution. But it is not something I can do. I don’t call the shot,” replied Dedy.

“You are right. You are the on the receiving end. The cause of your problems starts with the production planners who do not understand your plight. To them, they thought they have done their part after producing the urgent list. They do not bother whether the list is too long for you or not. Of course, they do not know your trouble in identifying the urgent parts giving that the list is more than 100 items long.” I explained my finding.

“Please, Pak Eric. Please talk to the production planners. That would be the best solution for me,” pleaded Dedy.

“Okay. Dedy. I will call up the production planning manager, now. You wait for my answer,” I make a promise to Dedy confidently.

I thanked Dedy and went straight back to my office. I called up Lily Lim, the production planning manager. Upon hearing a lady’s voice from the other end of the telephone line, I said, “Hi! Lily. I understand the production folks had a hard time chasing for the shortage parts and thus, having a tough time fulfilling the planned production quantity, everyday. This in turn fails you in meeting your customer orders timely. I believe the on-time delivery performance for the Kansas product group which stood at 21% is a direct result of shortage parts not being expedited fast enough to be delivered to the production folks.”

“Hi! Eric, you are dead right on the dot. The receiving inspection department is the party who strangles our on-time delivery performance. Sumith, the manager for the receiving inspectors must do something about it,” explained Lily.

But deep in my mind, the root cause of the poor performance of the receiving inspectors is a direct result of non-due diligence on the part of the production planners. However, I should not pin-point the blame on Lily’s subordinates. I said, “Lily, I have a solution to help the receiving inspectors to expedite on the urgent parts. Shall I propose it to you?”

“Eric. You are most welcome. You must offer us a solution. We have been living with this problem for years. We have giving up with the receiving inspectors,” explained Lily.

“I understand that the production planners produce an urgent list every Friday for parts that are expected to be delivered from Singapore next week. The list of urgent parts is long. If this list could be shortened, it would be much easier for the receiving clerk and the receiving inspectors to expedite parts shown on a shorter urgent list. Do you agree with me?” I suggested to Lily.

Lily replied immediately, “Yes, I agree with you, Eric. But how do you shorten the list?”

I explained, “If the production planners were to list down the parts that are due to come in tomorrow, the list will be 1/5 shorter than the current weekly urgent list. Don’t you think so?”

Lily paused for a minute before she replied, “Yes, I agree with you. Do you mean I have to tell my production planners to start identifying the list of urgent parts that are scheduled to come in tomorrow, everyday?” I am for it.”

“Lily, you are right. This is something the production planners should do to help to reduce the number in the urgent list for the receiving clerk to ease their job in searching the urgent parts,” I clarified my expectation, “Similarly it will be much easier for the receiving inspectors to expedite the inspection of the urgent parts.”

“Alright, I can tell all my production planners to do so immediately. By the way, they receive the shipping list today for items that are going to be shipped from Singapore tomorrow,” said Lily. She is very aggressive. Perhaps, she could not tolerate the poor on-time delivery (abbreviation, OTD) performance any longer. Whatever suggestion that can help to improve the OTD performance is most welcome.

I stopped her and said, “No, Lily. I must offer you a complete solution.

Step one, the production planners must identify the urgent part for tomorrow, everyday. The urgent parts must be written down on a 2 inch by 2 inch Post-it-fix.

Step two, the production planner must go to the receiving clerk desk and paste the Post-it-fix onto a priority notice board at the corresponding Monday to Friday column. I expect the number of Post-it-fix to be about 20 parts or less.

Step three, the receiving clerk must read the parts indicated in the Post-it-fix for today’s arrival and search among the pallets for the urgent parts.

Step four, the receiving clerk raised the RDR and move the Post-it-fix to the urgent notice board placed at the receiving inspection department.

Step five, the receiving inspectors will peel off the Post-it-fix from the urgent notice board and hunt for the urgent parts.

Step six, when the receiving inspectors had completed the inspection of the parts and stamped on the RDR “IQC accepted”, he moves the Post-it-fix to the urgent notice board placed at the “IQC accepted area”.

Step seven, the material handlers from the stockroom will come round to pick up the Post-it-fix and search for the parts before moving them directly to the production shop floor.”

Lily listened attentively. She exclaimed, “Wow! Eric. You suggestion is simple. But it involves several departments to work together in complete synchronization with one another. This system is very good. It is easy to understand and to apply. I go for it. However, please call for a meeting among the few groups to make sure that each party knows his roles clearly.”

“I will do that, Lily. It is my pleasure to work with your team and the others as well,” I said.

It was quite a surprise to me. On my first day on the job I solved a problem that had plagued the factory for several years. The solution is very simple and yet the problem was left unattended for years.

On the other hand, I was baffled by the ineffectiveness of this leadership team, especially Samuel Siew, the site leader. 

 Figure 2-1: Urgent notice board

Two weeks later, I suggested to Jeffry, the production planner to adopt the principle of making a production plan for tomorrow, everyday. This planning method synchronizes with the above concept of identifying the urgent parts for tomorrow, everyday.

 I had noticed that Jeffry has been planning the production schedule on a weekly basis. On each day of next week, he indicated clearly the number of units of product to be produced at line #13. I asked him, “Jeffry, how do you arrive at this number of units to plan for line #13?”

Jeffry replied immediately, “The operations manager gave me the capacity of line #13. For different products, the expected output quantity to be planned for the day is clearly stated. I cannot plan for more than these numbers.”

“But really how do you know whether this is the optimum line capacity or not?” I asked him to clarify my doubt whether that number accurately reflect the production capacity of line #13 or not.

“Well, I have been using this number to plan the maximum number of units for each day. It cannot be wrong,” replied Jeffry.

I did not want to probe any further. I said, “Jeffry, it is very kind of you to want to pick up this slightly more tedious method of making a daily production plan. Let me explain this new planning methodology to you carefully. You have to do this everyday.”

Jeffry nodded his head.

“The key change from what you have been doing all this while is you have to plan for the production schedule for tomorrow’s production, today. You have to carry out this production scheduling process everyday. The planning window is a mere one day. That is, for tomorrow. Today you plan for tomorrow’s production and repeat that everyday,” I briefed him with repeated focus on the phase ‘plan today for tomorrow’s production’. I want to make sure that he understood my expectations.

“Well, if that is the case, I shall do it. Perhaps, it is much more tedious. But since you are so confident it is going to be much better for all of us, I give you the benefit of doubt,” said Jeffry.

I saw in his eyes, he was quite unhappy with my idea. He must be thinking, “That is making production schedules five times more than what I am doing now. Instead of doing it once a week, I have to do it 5 times a week now. Really, do I have a choice?”

For the next two weeks, I worked closely with Jeffry and coached him how to use the concept of planned hours to derive the planned efficiency[2]. Toward the end of the second week, Jeffry emailed to me a revised production schedule.

I was bewildered. How can the total production time be 47 hours? That is doubled the total available time in a day assuming the production line works three shifts round the clock. The total planned hours cannot exceed 24 hours a day.

I called up Jeffry and asked him to come over to my office. I asked him, “Jeffry, how can you planned 47 hours per day for a production line. The maximum limit is 24 hours per day.”

“Eric, this is a surprise to me too,” Jeffry explained, “Initially I thought the DV line #13 is just one production line. But after two weeks of monitoring the time the final assembly operators stopped work for the day, I noticed they stopped work very early in the late morning of the day. They have nothing to do for the most part of the remaining afternoon of the day.

I was baffled. I could not understand what was happening. All I knew was I can load up the production schedule with more units to be produced by them. This was precisely what I did and I did not hear any complain from the production folks.”

I asked Anang, the facilitator for line #13 how he planned for his production output for the day.

He explained, “Though DV line #13 is layout as a production line, it consists of 7 smaller production cells. You should make a production schedule which caters to all 7 production cells. This was why I produce my own production planning Excel worksheet. There are 7 distinct groups of products. Each product group is produced in one of the smaller production cells. That is why you see a total of 47 planned hours for the 7 smaller production cells.

But then, the overall planned efficiency is only 43%. It is less than half the ideal 100%. Well, it is not so easier for me to understand the sharing of equipment among several products. Give me more time, I will understand the capacity of line #13 better.”

I learnt a new thing. A production line may consist more than one production cells. That means we cannot assume a production line has 8-hours a shift or 24-hour a day. We have to multiply that by the number of sub-cells in it.

A mere reduction of the planning window from one week to daily had enabled the production planner to understand a lot more about the capacity of a production line. The added requirement to follow up on the day’s output at the end of the day had surfaced an abnormality of the production plan versus the actual capacity of the production line.

In the past, the production planner only needs to monitor the actual weekly output versus the weekly planned number. He did not notice the massive amount of idle time the operators were having on hand. That is simply unproductive.  

      Figure 2-2: Planned hours by products

     
      By a simple stroke of converting the production planning window from a weekly bucket to a daily bucket, I had surfaced the problem where the production capacity was extremely under-rated. In this example, the actual production capacity of line #13 was found to be more than 7 times higher than it was assumed. The output capacity of the line #13 grew by a factor of 7 without adding a single piece of equipment or manpower.

This Bintan plan though sits on a low cost industrial estate, its cost of production is a far cry from what it is supposed to be. It did not benefit Honeywell International Inc, the parent company. Neither do the customers simple because its hugely inefficient operations translates to a much higher price to the eventual customers who purchase the product.  

 


 



[1] Pak is often used to address a man who is more senior in the Indonesian language. It is the equivalent to Mr. in the English language.

[2] Read chapter 3 to understand how planned hours is used in production planning.

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