Monday, February 23, 2009

Storage Facility or Production Site?

Here is a quick manufacturing exercise for you to do today. Walk out to your gemba and ask these questions:

Does this look more like a storage facility or a production site?
Do I see more material than I see associates?
Can I see all the associates in the area from here?
How much material can one associate work on at one given time?
What is the right amount of inventory required?
What is the math behind determining the “right amount” of inventory?
How often are your inventory levels (part by part) reviewed and re-calculated?
Can you tell at a glance (not looking at a computer spreadsheet) if you have more or less inventory on hand than required?

If you don’t know the answers, maybe this is one area to explore for kaizen.

After re-watching some of my JKE video tapes from my lean benchmarking trip to Japan hosted by Gemba Research, it is quickly apparent that the line side inventory quantities I see in the United States plants are significantly higher than at the leaner facilities I visited in Japan.

So can we describe your manufacturing facility as a production site with only required material on hand or as a storage facility with only required production on hand?

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