Turning job shops into flow shops is not easy. This is my second post explaining such transformations as I try to help you in improving your shop floor from an (always) messy job shop into a much more efficient flow shop.
Job shops are always very difficult to manage. As I described in my previous posts, the irregular material flow causes fluctuations that are very hard to contain. In my view, the only true fix for a job shop is to convert it into a flow shop. In this post I will talk a little bit about how you approach the idea of converting a job shop into a flow shop … although this is not always possible. However, in many cases it is possible to increase flow-shop-like segments, even though the whole system is still a job shop.
Job shops are a mess. Period. The increased and uneven levels of inventory cause a host of other problems. In my last post I described how these inventory imbalances are caused by irregular material flow, how subsequent safety buffers increase inventory even more, and how this causes staff to change their workplace irregularly in a job shop. In this post I will continue the long list of ills in a job shop with staff changeover losses, extra searching and organizing, fluctuating lead times, and general un-plannability of job shops.
Job shops have a strong tendency toward chaos. Even well managed plants struggle to maintain order in a job shop. This is due to the inherent nature of a job shop, and there are no good solutions to manage job shops. The only good way to improve a job shop is to turn it into a flow shop. I will talk more about such changes later in this short series, but first let me explain why job shops are always a mess.
In my previous posts I explained how POLCA works and discussed the pros and cons of POLCA. In this post I will explain how to calculate the number of POLCA cards. While POLCA is overall a feasible method, I do have some critical comments on the method to calculate the number of POLCA cards.
In my previous post I described how POLCA (Paired-Cell Overlapping Loops of Cards) is supposed to work. Now let me look at the advantages and disadvantages of the method. Overall POLCA is a valid method of managing job shops. If it is the right one for you depends very much on your production system.
POLCA stands for Paired-Cell Overlapping Loops of Cards with Authorization and was developed by Rajan Suri around 1990. It is sometimes mentioned alongside kanban and CONWIP as a production control system. Let me explain to you how POLCA works. In my next post I look at the pros and cons of POLCA. In my last post of this mini-series, I will show you the calculation for the number of POLCA cards, including some critical comments.
The similar-sounding word Polka is also a Czech dance music and textile pattern, hence the colorful illustration of the polka dots on the left (don’t worry, more technical diagrams will follow below).