Adhering to the Schedule
The Team Leaders were sticking to the production schedule like a charm, the previous fights over the value of work were now a dim memory (but not yet distant). The work to lists were being used and we were getting pro-active updates about problems with upcoming jobs on the schedule. The next milestone for the Production team was to get rid of the end of month bulge, we had removed the bulk of the ‘hockey stick curve’ but there was still a slight imbalance in the order books toward the back end.
At the end of each month the turnover would jump slightly, but during the first couple of weeks in a month it would increase at a slightly slower rate. Many would consider me a pedant for wanting to fix this, after all the massive turnover leap at the month end had gone, but I wasn’t happy with the month end focus still being present in the minds of the majority of people in the business despite what we had experienced since the changes. Since moving to the balanced production schedule my colleagues and I were now focused on weekly output. For the lead time of our products daily output still seemed too far away to consider.
After talking with our Team Leaders it took a few weeks of focussing on the weekly output targets to start hitting them, the production teams seemed remarkably keen to get involved in working this way. It turned out from speaking to them that they hated month end just as much as we did!
The weeks started to yield more and more similar weeks from an output point of view and the interesting thing that we noticed was that we started to slowly increase the level of output we were able to achieve. This steadier approach to producing orders was giving us an efficiency boost. After a few weeks of experiencing this and talking to the Team Leaders I altered the calculations in the capacity plan so that we could take advantage of this result. Please bear in mind that because of the loss of the month end spike we were also using less overtime through the month, so this natural gain in capacity was as a result of focus and balance.
- Keep your capacity planning tools up to date with current information.
- Aim to get your teams focussing on the smallest unit of time possible that is relevant to the type of production you are involved with.
- Try to avoid delivering on the 37th of each month!
- Change can take time, find the pace of your team when making changes, they won’t necessarily travel at your pace (which is usually faster than theirs) so beware!