The modus operandi of a fast-food hamburger joint is to have a burger already prepared and ready to go when or if a customer asks for it. The bad news here, of course, is that without some sense of how long a particular burger may have been in the “finished goods” inventory (i.e., under the red lamps), there is the distinct possibility that your product may be cold and obsolete by the time you receive and consume it.
On the other hand, at some fancy-schmancy gourmet-burger place, where all is custom and only made once the order is in and confirmed, you may have quite a wait between placing your purchase order and taking delivery of the product. In each operation, the inherent pitfalls of inventory management are factors of lead time—with fast food, too much of it, and gourmet not enough.
To bring a product or service to a customer requires not only the material in which to do it, but information that will give a sense of what and when that material will be needed. In short, efficient manufacturing requires that (more…)