Dealing with Uncertainty

UncertaintyA lot of decisions in lean manufacturing have uncertainty. How many products will I sell (and what is my customer takt)? Which layout is more efficient? Should I believe expert A or expert B? Uncertainty is a part of life in manufacturing. In fact, the higher up you go in the hierarchy, the more you have to deal with uncertainty. And often these are not just simple “A or B” type of questions, but highly complex and interacting decisions like “What should our new line look like?” Here are some suggestions on how to deal with uncertainty. Please note that they will not answer all of your questions but will help you make better decisions.

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Interview on the David Pakman Show on the Future of Manufacturing

david-pakman-show-logoRecently I had the exciting opportunity to be interviewed on the David Pakman Show on American TV, where I talked about the future of manufacturing, especially in America. Our subjects of discussion ranged from “bringing jobs back,” to the presidential election, to the carbon tax and many more current issues. Here’s the full video and also the transcript:

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How to Prioritize Your Work Orders – Prioritization of Made to Stock

Emergency Corridor 2
Prioritization strategy for emergency vehicles …

In my last two posts I described why and how to establish a system for handling priority work orders. This post discusses how to actually prioritize your different work orders.

Hint: It has a lot to do with the quantity of a particular product ordered. The more frequently a product is ordered, the easier it is to provide the parts through inventory rather than rush orders. But … I rush ahead 🙂 .

There are different strategies available, depending on your production mix – in particular your mixture of made-to-order and made-to-stock products.  Let’s first focus on made-to-stock production.

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How to Prioritize Your Work Orders – The VIP Lane

VIP LabelIn my previous post I went through the basics of prioritization of your work orders. The easiest way to prioritize these orders is through a VIP lane: a lane for very important parts. In this post I will discuss what you need to make your VIP lane work – and how you can completely mess up a priority system. In my next post I will describe different prioritization strategies that can be used.

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How to Prioritize Your Work Orders – Basics

Prioritize OvertakeAny manufacturing system has production orders, some of which are urgent, others of which are less so. Hence, you may need to prioritize some orders over others. There are different ways to prioritize your orders – and merely telling your people to rush a job creates more chaos than it helps. Luckily, in a kanban loop, there is one spot to prioritize your production orders: before the first process. Done correctly, this allows you to create a smoother and more efficient production system. Let’s go into more detail. In this first post of a longer series, I go through the basics: why, where, and how not to prioritize.

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Using Lots of Effort and Money to Demotivate Your People

Business People Conflict Problem, Boss Team Working Throw Papers, Documents Fly Concept Negative Emotion, Businesspeople Desk Office Flat Vector IllustrationMotivation is a key aspect to success. This applies not only to individuals, but also to corporations. Since this is not really any new revelation, many companies put in quite a bit of effort into raising corporate morale. One popular morale booster is corporate events. It is difficult to make such events truly exceptional, but most companies manage to do at least a decent job. Others, however, produce just cringe-worthy results. Or, you could say they create a night to remember. Luckily for us, these are there for all to see on YouTube . Let’s have a look!

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The Curious Case of 100% Work Performance

Poker of acesEmployment is an exchange of work for money. In my last post I showed a few tricks on how operators keep management in the dark about the true workload. However, management is also not giving out all the details on their side either. Naturally, the true value of the work is difficult to assess. Even if companies could know exactly how much each employee contributes to the success, they probably would keep this information top secret.

More interesting, however, is the value of the target workload, where operators are able to work continuously at 130% capacity without problem. The following are my own thoughts, as I have never seen these conclusions anywhere else before.

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