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  • Asking the Right Business Questions

    • Dave Turbide
    September/October 2017

    Several years ago, I visited a manufacturing company that was just putting the finishing touches on an impressive, highly automated warehouse. Meanwhile, another area of the company was involved in a lean manufacturing initiative that promised to greatly reduce the amount of inventory that the company would have on hand at any given time. Of course, after successful completion of the lean project, it was quite likely that this expensive, new warehouse would not really be needed. ......Read More

  • An Operations Improvement Case Study

    • Michael D. Ford
    September/October 2017

    A regional distribution center in upstate New York supplies goods to retail outlets throughout the state. This particular distribution center largely consists of labor operations, and there is minimal use of automated storage and retrieval systems. As a result, the company had focused on achieving low costs and driving productivity through the hard work of its employees.......Read More

  • Control Unruly Parts Lists with Kitting

    • Randall Schaefer
    September/October 2017

    I once had a long-term consulting assignment with a manufacturer of large-vehicle chassis. The chassis were sold to motor-home manufacturers that would add the bodies and interior accessories. Each chassis consisted of the frame, engine, axle, transmission, brakes, electricals and anything else necessary for safe and legal driving.......Read More

  • Pull System Triggers Optimal Planning and Replenishment

    • Ron Crabtree
    September/October 2017

    Many years ago, when I was an automotive industry plant materials manager, I faced a big challenge. My company’s enterprise resources planning (ERP) system was failing us miserably with regard to our expendable packaging. Although we had initially been very successful at implementing a fully integrated ERP system driven by forecasts, material requirements planning and bills of material, it was discovered that pallets, corrugated boxes, dunnage and other packaging items were essentially impossible to plan for.......Read More

  • Evolved Operations Enable Progressive Supply Chain Management

    • Michael D. Ford
    September/October 2017

    Most professionals will agree that a standardized approach to supply chain management should produce high volumes of a standardized product. However, this often results in localized optimization, where a particular node in the internal or external supply chain is driven toward behavior that causes pain upstream or downstream. This method also fails to address customers’ desires for flexibility in terms of product variety. Companies and consumers alike expect special treatment, but a historical high-productivity business model is too rigid to accommodate this. To best meet market demands, the supply chain field needs a more evolved operations tactic.......Read More

  • Reinventing the Production Scheduling Wheel

    • Jaci Souza
    • Alan H. Nall
    • Peter L. King
    September/October 2017

    For supply chains to be fully effective, manufacturing links must be stable, predictable, agile and responsive. One way to accomplish these goals is with product wheels. These scheduling tools organize the variety of products made on any asset in order to optimize campaign lengths and sequences and therefore improve throughput and customer fill rate while reducing cost and inventory.......Read More

  • Demolish Silos in Total Quality Management

    • Pamela J. Zelbst
    • Kenneth W. Green Jr.
    • Victor E. Sower
    September/October 2017

    Supply chain managers know that the integrated nature of 21st century supply chains requires the breaking down of operational silos to build a connected, effective entity. Different players within the supply chain must be aware of each other’s functions and activities and how these connect to their own roles. In this way, the entire supply chain can ensure that it is working toward a common goal and cooperating on the best way to reach it.......Read More

  • From Soap to Hope

    Simple solutions to complex problems
    • Elizabeth Rennie
    September/October 2017

    According to the World Health Organization, 2.4 billion people do not have access to clean sanitation, and 1.8 million children die every year because their immune systems are not strong enough to battle diseases — many of which could easily be prevented with soap. In fact, simple handwashing cuts morbidity rates by nearly 50 percent. Sicknesses related to contaminated water supplies and poor hygiene most often plague poor, war-torn regions or those in the wake of a natural disaster.......Read More