It’s an unfortunate fact of the manufacturing life that customers are increasingly demanding lower costs for seemingly perfectly produced products, and delivered on-time—every time. And, never mind the excuses for not performing. Today, customer loyalty is often a vacuous concept and any dissatisfaction at all simply becoming a matter of clients moving along to next vendor in line who promises the desired delivery. At its root, the bane of most manufacturers is excessively long order-to-delivery cycle times, even when efforts have been made to streamline production systems.
In lean models of manufacturing, wasted time means wasted opportunities to gain efficiency. Evidence of the waste of time is everywhere in the system and often takes the form of waiting for something to happen. The shop floor waits on sales orders to get processed, machine operators wait for engineering documents to update or clear, bottlenecks form in the production line, material delivery is slowed during inventory searches, and the list of waiting maladies goes on and on. Just remember that waiting—any waiting—keeps making the order-to-delivery cycle time longer than it really needs to be. And, longer order-to-delivery cycle times nibble into valuable, and narrower, margins.
Another factor in extending the order-to-delivery cycle time, to the point of bottom-line profit erosion, is that (more…)