Skip to main content

Do You Have Too Many Workcentres?

When I am trying to figure out why a client's MRP / ERP system isn't helping them to deliver their products on time, their workcentres often creep into the equation.

The configuration of workcentres can make a big difference to effectively managing a shop floor environment, but even before that is understood the volume of workcentres is a serious consideration to be thought through.

Splitting up your manufacturing facility into workcentres is never a right or wrong decision. The quality of your thinking about this however will affect the ease of managing the flow of production and the following pointers are listed here for those of you who may be in a bit of muddle with work to lists, routings and capacity planning.

Things to consider:

  • Like the resolution of a digital camera, having too few workcentres won't allow you to manage bottlenecks. Try to avoid having one workcentre called 'factory' or too few that won't allow you to see what is happening with your production orders.
  • Following on, and on the other end of the scale, don't have too many workcentres. This will give you greater accuracy when planning work but will most likely give you an absolute headache when you come to balancing work loads and creating your routings. Strive to achieve the middle ground (enough splitting up of the factory to be a manageable endeavour going forward).
  • Review your system to see if you can split your factory up into high level process areas and low level workcentres, so that you can get a good balance of high and low level planning.
  • If there is a reference system / code that goes along with your workcentre then think through the numbering system in advance. Don't just put numbers / digits into those fields, think through how you want them to appear when you are managing the data later on (logical grouping etc...).
  • Lock down the privileges in the system so that other users can't create / adjust workcentres to accommodate problems. Likewise, changes in workcentre configuration should be agreed by a management team rather than just tinkered with.
Getting your workcentres right will have a knock on effect in several areas. Routings will be clearer and more consistent. Work to lists will become useful tools and your capacity planning tools will start to make sense.

It is definitely worth taking the time to get this balance right, even if it means taking a step back from where you are now.


Giles Johnston
Author of 'Making MRP Work'

Popular posts from this blog

Kaizen improvements need to be specific

Do you find that your Kaizen improvements don't always go to plan? If you do, then you're with the majority! Whilst there is great deal of 'trial and error' there is a simple approach that can help. Available from Amazon Being specific about critical parts of your improvement can uplift your results. So, how do you go about doing this? The most direct route is to be clear about which parts of your improvement are critical. From here you can explain, in detail, what you want for those items. This might take some practice as many of us have become lazy in this regard. We take it for granted that our team 'get us' and will know what they need to do. If you ever feel that something basic is missing from an improvement ask this question: "What does good look like?" The answer should put you back on track. About the author: Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes and

Where to start with Kaizen, if you just aren't sure

Kaizen is a great word. It is a word that can unleash the potential of both a business and an individual. Kaizen means more than just continuous improvement. It is a word that is linked to: Confidence Growth Exploration Courage Many people I speak to, that are new to improvement projects, aren't sure if they are on the right path when it comes to embracing the spirit of Kaizen. If you are also one of these people then let me share with you a few thoughts that can help you feel at ease about starting and leading change. Start with your concerns A great place to start your improvement life is with anything that isn't right. Getting your concerns out into the open really is the first step for most of us. If you aren't happy with something, raise it. This isn't only a great place to start, but something that you shouldn't give up. Whenever a standard is not being met, or not even defined, get vocal and then do something about it. Start small The intention of Kaizen is

Stimulating Kaizen opportunities - the 'mechanical' way!

I often end up in conversations about how to stimulate Kaizen ideas and opportunities. If you have read my other posts, you will know that I split the improvement journey into two halves. For many people, the initial Kaizen focus is all around fixing things that are wrong / not working properly. Once you get past this point you need something else to focus and motivate you to generate improvement opportunities. The two halves of the Kaizen journey The discussion that I often end up in, is the one around the imagination quandary. People talk to me about not being creative, or not being inspired to come up with improvement ideas. Do you ever feel this way? It seems that there is a popular view that some people are creative and some aren't. Great Kaizen ideas are not just the product of 'creative' people. There are lots of ways that you can generate improvement ideas without having to sit on a mountain top cross legged waiting for inspiration. Finding a 'mechanical' w