Consulting Projects, continued
Are you getting all of your materiel in the right place at the right time? A supplier of industrial laboratory services was having trouble with its courier operations: it needed to pick up test samples from dozens of clients every day, and have them arrive at the lab early enough to be completed in time to meet customer expectations. Some up-front heuristic approaches including physical mapping and clumping analyses yielded several promising new courier route designs. A computer simulation model was then constructed and used first to benchmark the current route design, and then to assess each of the proposed new route designs. The best design was selected, and is currently being implemented, shaving several hours off the collection task each day.
Run-Off Analysis and SPC Support
Can you prove to your customers that you're making good stuff? An assembler and value-added reseller of machine tools was stuck with a thorny problem: a new client had an unusual, and unusually rigorous, runoff acceptance procedure as part of their acquisition policy. The VAR knew their machine was producing excellent parts, but were not familiar with the SPC methods required, or how to apply them. A training session was provided for production and quality personnel, including some specialized information on the methods being required by their customer. The methods were applied and the machine was accepted.
Overall Operations Assessment
Can a fresh set of eyes highlight opportunities you might be missing? A small volume, high technology company was in the business of designing, manufacturing, and selling very sophisticated test equipment. The business had grown up around the design of the product, and lacked a formal manufacturing infrastructure. An assessment of the entire production end of the enterprise was conducted, including interfaces between design and production, product configuration control, releasing procedures, and shop routings. Deficiencies were identified and solutions were enumerated and prioritized. Enhanced systems are currently being implemented.
Process Flow Optimization
How do you drive waste out of your processes? A supplier of industrial laboratory services was having trouble with its process flow; samples spent too much time in processing, and too many samples were lost along the way. A process flow mapping approach was recommended; all process steps were studied and documented, and a logical map of the flow of materials, personnel, and information was constructed. This concise but detailed map of process flow showed where the problems were: opportunities for errors and mistakes, as well as wasted motion and effort and points of insufficient information. Simple policy and layout changes are now being implemented, with no investment needed for additional equipment or manpower. Error rates are expected to drop by a factor of ten, and throughput time by 15%.
Excel-Based Job Estimator
Can you use a simple spreadsheet to cost and time a project? A small manufacturer of industrial signage was experiencing a typical job-shop problem: each order was a custom job, and they had no idea what the true cost of the job would end up being, or how long it would take to complete. Salesmen tended to underestimate both, which led to customer dissatisfaction when reality struck. They could not justify an expensive MRP system, so a simple math model was developed using Microsoft Excel. This was a simple but effective model which characterized each job in terms of number of process steps, amount of material needed, number of processing machines required, etc. The initial math model was based on assumptions and insight from company personnel, but it is now constantly being refined for greater accuracy as a database of actual times and costs is being collected.