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Posted by: 9. July 2013

Maximize What We Can Produce With What We Have

Ford says Quality is Job #1.

 

Last August, Speaking of Precision ran a post asking what was a company’s most important job. It caused quite a stir on the many LinkedIn Forums and attracted a number of thoughtful comments.

The economy and markets for our precision machined products have changed since then, thanks to all the shenanigans in Washington D.C. involving the election and the fiscal cliff. Not to mention whatever is going on with the currencies and economies affecting imports and exports all around the world.

Based on comments from recent visits with members, I think it is time to reconsider that question in light of circumstances today.

What is the most important job in our shops today?

We do not seem to have the flexibility to grow our way out of our limits by adding new technology (takes new employees) or adding people ( we can’t find skilled people and with housing still underwater, even we did find them they won’t move). So we have to maximize (not just optimize) what we can produce with what we have. Adding more of either doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

To me that means two things: We need to upgrade cross training for our people, and we need our schedulers to do the impossible. 

Cross training increases our teams’ ability to be agile, flexible and competent. We need to meet challenges after a key team member is lost because of illness, retirement or accident. Cross training upgrades the value of each employee. It makes our shop more sustainable by increasing the odds that our equipment will be operating. So the trainers and mentors play a key role in keeping our production and talent aligned. How is that going in your shop?

Scheduling is how we assure the greatest return for the resources deployed in our shop. Scheduling is where all the assets and tools we have can be applied to meet the market’s needs for our services and products. Assuring that all of our equipment and people are operating at their highest and best use is what the savvy scheduler is doing: to maximize the dollar throughput collected for each hour of shop time from our customers.

You can rely on software for scheduling. If you are, I sure hope that someone has done some reality checking recently on the factors that your program uses for availability, productivity and cost.

You can rely on the inside sales department to schedule your shop. If so, I hope that “my inside sales rep” is the loudest and most obnoxious to assure that “my job” gets to the front of the line. I hope that is not the system at your company.

You can rely on a professional who works as part of a team to understand the demands of the market, the limits of the equipment and the abilities of the folks on the floor to assure that everything is running at its “highest and best use” to assure the flow of product out the door and cash receipts from the customers is a steady and growing stream.

Once the right folks have been hired, I’m thinking the most important job is having a schedule that assures that they and the equipment resources at their disposal are operating at their highest and best use.

What do you think?

 

Originally posted on PMPA Speaking of Precision blog.

 

 

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