Gemba Walk

Most leadership teams’ assumptions about what is happening in the workplace on a day-to-day basis do not align with the reality of what is actually taking place. Does that sound surprising to you? One very good solution to this problem is a Gemba Walk. A Gemba Walk is an alternative expression for the Japanese term ‘Genchi Genbutsu’ which is defined as, ‘Going to the source to find the facts to make correct decisions, build consensus, and achieve goals.’ A common slang expression for this is ‘Get your boots on and go see the reality.’ Don’t make dangerous assumptions about things you only know from a distance.

When leaders leave their everyday tasks and walk the Gemba, they have an opportunity to ‘See or to Study’ with their own eyes and more deeply understand what is really happening inside the organization. This practice allows them to observe machinery conditions, ask about the practiced standards, and have a better understanding of the functions and processes around. This affords management a reliable, simple, and easy means of supporting the organization and encourages workplace standardization.

The Gemba Walk is an excellent method of ensuring potential problems are addressed in the quickest possible time and at the lowest possible level. Its implementation begins with good planning and requires support from leadership and employees. In order to do this, here are some helpful hints:

  • Be candid in your approach while talking to your colleagues. Avoid formal ways of conversation as it results in rigid responses most of the time.
  • Listen passionately. People tend to be more interested in talking and sharing when they see leaders are paying due attention.
  • Instead of sharing your ideas, ask people to come up with their views and thoughts. People need to realize — ideas are sought in order to make things better for them.
  • An equal amount of time and focus need to be invested in every function. Biasness towards a section of people or function might ruin the whole purpose. A leader must be approachable by everyone in the organization.
  • Recognize people’s success immediately. When things are not going right, avoid giving immediate feedback in public. This should be done later on in private.
  • Be absolutely open and honest while answering any query or question. In case you do not have the right answer, please admit that, follow up and get back. If you are not in a position to share something, please say it upfront. Hiding facts or saying half-truths could completely destroy the trust.

Asprova provide user’s the opportunity to discover which processes inside their business need adjustment, as they inhibit people’s ability to do the right thing. Valuable information gathered from our advanced planning and scheduling functions support leaders when they walk the Gemba to effectively engage with the workforce to solve problems, review ideas, pilot changes and tweak implementation issues.

 

How to Successfully Implement a Production Scheduling Software

Flickr ©Scott

Flickr ©Scott

Every software implementation needs thorough preparation and planning to ensure success. Over the past years, Asprova has had its fair share of success and failures in the implementation of its Production Scheduling software. Based on actual experiences from our customers, here are important points to take note to be able to successfully implement a Production Scheduling software:

Set clear and in between ideal and realistic goals. To define these goals, understand first why your company needs a Production Scheduling software. Create a project plan that clearly articulates business requirements. Analyze the requirements and ensure to set goals in between realistic and ideal – be able to separate wish lists from the attainable ones. Lastly, goals have to be set with great focus on the company’s bottom line – PROFIT. For example:

1. Be able to answer quickly and accurately → Aiming at the increase of customer satisfaction and sales

2. Reduce inventory → Aiming at cutting costs

3. Shorten production lead time → Aiming at improving agility to respond to customer needs as well as cutting costs

• Build a prototype. Before implementation, it is recommended that a prototype be built first to be able to completely examine the functions of the system. This will help you decide whether the functions of the system will work for you or not.

• Keep additional software development to an absolute minimum. Too much customization may derail your implementation due to time constraints, possible bugs and uncontrollable costs. Take the opportunity to evaluate your processes first. Then, try to solve using the standard functions of the system.Taking into consideration all these important factors will help your company in successfully implementing a Production Scheduling software and in achieving your end goal of hitting profit plans.

Are you planning to implement a Production Scheduler in your factory? If so, we strongly recommend that you download the free trial version of Asprova and watch our e-Learning videos.

 

 

Photo credits: Flickr ©Scott

The Basics of Production Management

Scheduling is just a small part in the entire collage of production management. It is an important factor that influences the other areas involved in achieving the goals of production. We’ve published many articles focusing on the different scheduling angles of production. This time, however, we’d like to try to review and reanalyze the fundamentals of managing a production system.

Tomoichi Sato, an expert in production management, defines the production system as a “system to convert demand information into products.” That statement also serves as the main goal of production. “This system is composed of humans, machinery and the space provided by normally a kind of building.

They are generally called resources, human resource and mechanical resource,” he adds.

Human resource – this is generally defined as the set of individuals who make up the workforce

of an organization, business sector, or economy.

Mechanical resource – this refers to the machines that are used in production.

According to Sato, the ability to create a production plan can also be termed production control. He underscored that “control” is a more detailed (or stronger, in a sense) word as compared to “management”. Schedulers have the ability to control and influence the results of the entire production system.

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Mr. Sato also has a different perspective about what is the main input in production. Conventional view, he said, is to “regard raw materials or parts as input into production system which converts them into products” but his view is quite unconventional, he continued by saying that “The main input is not the raw materials or the parts but the demand information.” In his view, the raw materials, parts and resources are the needed support to convert demand information into products.

Do you agree with Tomoichi Sato’s perspective?

 

Combination of Automatic Scheduling and Manual Adjustment

There is a saying that goes: “before we point at others, we must first look at a mirror.” The quote implies that when you look at yourself in the mirror, you would see your own flaws. If you seize this moment constructively, and as an opportunity to reflect on what you see, you will attain self-improvement. In a professional setting, a term called SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis has the same idea as the premise of this paragraph—analyzing your flaws, and improving upon it. Using this as our guide, we can now examine how the Taiwan-based company achieved this 110 million New Taiwan Dollars (NTD) increase in their savings. For this article, we’ll focus on S, W, and O.

Strengths

The company was growing rapidly. They were able make a name for themselves through the development of high-quality tires and production of UHP, SUV, LTR, PCR, and other series tires. They were becoming a big-shot in the tire industry; however, they noticed that production efficiency was not maximized.

Weaknesses

Before we can increase our profit, we must first look at what’s holding us back—this might be the idea that came to the minds of the consulting department manager and the production planner when they initiated the plan to improve. There were two key areas that needed attention:

  • Using Excel for production plans—this is a weakness because Excel could not consider current sales information nor inventory levels. This made Synchronization difficult and affected company profits.
  • The inability to respond to an increasing number of small and diverse orders, rush orders, and frequent order changes. It became impossible for them to update the plan manually and in time. This led to late deliveries and an inefficient allocation of production capacity.

Opportunities

After finding out about their flaws, they had a chance to improve upon it. They searched for a production scheduler, and after a series of evaluation, they found the perfect partner—Asprova. Because of its known abilities in scheduling, the company was able to overcome their weaknesses and turn it into strengths. Objectively speaking, the percentage of products delivered directly without having been stored, increased from 45% to 85%; this lead to savings of 50 million NTD per year. Lastly, inventory turnover was reduced from 20 to 15 days contributing another 60 million NTD per year.

Do you find it hard to manually schedule rush orders and never-ending order changes? There’s still hope, let us help you make your company more profitable and your job a lot easier. You can start with this free trial version of Asprova so you can evaluate. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Accuracy and Quickness in Quoting Due Dates

Handwritten Schedule

A world-renowned home-appliance manufacturer who’s deployed previous version of Asprova (year 2000) decided to go for an upgrade knowing that it would help them in a big way.

Before the upgrade, the company decided to use handwritten methods in scheduling along with the obsolete scheduler. However, it cost them lots of trouble (inefficiency, cost, labor, etc.) and needed a long time before a schedule can be made. Keeping up with this fast-paced industry is really no joke.

With this in mind, the company decided to call on Asprova for an upgrade and was not disappointed, “Through upgrading, Asprova overall became more expressive. With so many items and jobs being carried out in small lots, it is important to understand the entire process visually, and Asprova is very effective in that regard…[we] really appreciate their help in reaching our goal.” says an employee who is known of the situation.

Tool to Make Money

And of course, the upgrade came with the much expected effects. Planning time was reduced from 8 man-days to 2 man-days, production lead time reduced 2 weeks to 1 week, and it became possible to answer the delivery dates more quickly and accurately. The company is now aiming for Asprova to be their “tool to make money” by cutting costs on several areas of their manufacturing.

 

Lead time reduction: what are its effects?

Reducing Lead Time

Lead time reduction, was previously discussed in the article Lead Time Reduction and the Limits of MRP published under the umbrella of Production Scheduling Lessons in this site. It is generally known as reducing the latency (or delay) between the initiation and execution of a process. This is a very important feat in production.

A world renowned manufacturer, who launched the first facsimiles for office use,  that was in the expanding phase in their sales, experienced an increase in the high- mix and low-volume production. As demand increases, the need for production processes goes up along with it. The company needed to increase their machines and make production more efficient. They needed a production scheduler to make the processes smoother, and they called for Asprova.

To be more efficient in production, they needed to reduce lead time. If a company needs to reduce inventory, it would be better if they would rather reduce lead time than directly reducing inventory itself. Asprova gave them just the help they needed.

After implementation of this production scheduler, they were able to witness a great reduction in lead time—it was actually cut in half. WIP (Work-in-process) inventory was also reduced by 50%. They improved the efficiency of the whole production process. They even experienced a reduction in delivery delay.

Would the PDCA cycle become faster when accuracy improves?

Make-to-Stock

Vibration-proofing products are the specialty of this Make-to-Stock (MTS) manufacturer that we will try to analyze in this article. There are two reasons why they installed Asprova mainly: to improve efficiency and to upgrade accuracy.

The Production schedule, before Asprova introduction, was made three times a month. Because the company needed a lot of help with their vulcanization processes, they wanted to focus on narrowing this out for it to be automatically scheduled. Scheduling only three times a month made it hard for them to do so. But, after Asprova installation, they were able to schedule every day and made the processes more efficient and accurate. After this event, the company plans to expand the use of Asprova in other aspects of their production processes.

Production Planning Enhanced

According to their managers, the improvement of efficiency in making production plans is one of the best effects after Asprova introduction. Another is the accuracy enhancement of production plans.

The use of Asprova does not end in just the aforementioned details. The company predicts that in the future, there will still be effects like great reduction in-progress inventories.