Lean without Computers? - Scheduling

M

mattf

#1
I work at a small printing company. This is a company that has been around for over 70 years and has a lot of old habits. Some of the methods they use for certain operations make me feel like I'm back in the 1980's. One of which involves the scheduling system.

My function is basically to make the company more efficient. Not specifically lean persay, but kanban comes to mind as something that anyone can use. One of my main focal points i'm pushing is within scheduling. I have witnessed a few things through 5 Why exercises, consistent observation and first hand experience.

In terms of scheduling, the scheduler is one of the sons of the founder of the company. His method of scheduling jobs is this:

1) Get a tag from the planner containing specific information. He has a board with certain sections devoted to certain individuals. Proof out, day on press and so on. These tags he looks to identify what a job is.

2) He places the jog tag at the specific areas on this board when they are at the specific section. So if out on proof, it would be in that position. At a press or in the finishing area, it would be in that section.

3) He has a marker board which will show a week in advance of what is coming. This is mainly for all printing + some finishing work, like die cutting. He seems to not keep track of folding, but still keeps track of whats going on within our shipping department.

The reason I am here is I'm not sure how to handle this. The problems that come about:

1) With this system he has in place he basically is keeping jobs in his head. The tags and marker board are in his office, and when he goes out to the plant he has nothing to reference. I've seen him handle up to 50 jobs with ease at a time. However, get above 60 and mistakes happen very quickly.

2) Mistakes occur because when there are a certain amount of jobs in his head, 60 at a time, he is unable to keep track of all of them, primarily daily shipments + daily schedules for each press, folder etc. Because of this, jobs fall through the cracks and mistakes occur because we rush to get them done after the fact. Jobs that are rushed through seem to always have mistakes riddled throughout the process.

3) Because mistakes happens, the scheduler create a very lenient schedule. He makes a lot of room within all sections of production in order to get work out. This does a few things, but mainly puts the company at a halt in terms of how many jobs we can do per day. At max our presses can do 4 jobs a day, maybe 5 with overtime. Our presses can easily bang out 6, but we never push that fast.

I have offered to introduce some scheduling software that would automate what he is doing already in his head and make it easier to handle. He has refused over and over again. I have demo'd software for him, created scenario's he could follow. It doesn't seem to get through to him.

As a proponent of lean and kanban, I have always been on board for the "continuous improvement" + "removal of waste" concept. With that in mind, even though I've described all the benefits of a computer software to handle the data of scheduling my scheduler won't budge. I was wondering if I could get some ideas on how to approach this. Is software scheduling the only way or is there some other type of system that I could use to make a more efficient scheduling system?

Thanks for your time.
 
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W

wmarhel

#2
Do you need software, probably not, and in the long run there is also a learning curve and it is just as likely to scare some people away. Have you considered focusing on improving the processes themselves and getting closer to one-piece flow?

Having worked for an envelope manufacturer that used both flexo and litho, getting the processes connected and communicating is more important than software you can purchase. The other issue is that if the processes aren't functioning correctly, any problems that arise will automatically be blamed on the software, and possibly the person who decided it was a good idea.

Wayne
 
M

mattf

#3
Do you need software, probably not, and in the long run there is also a learning curve and it is just as likely to scare some people away. Have you considered focusing on improving the processes themselves and getting closer to one-piece flow?

Having worked for an envelope manufacturer that used both flexo and litho, getting the processes connected and communicating is more important than software you can purchase. The other issue is that if the processes aren't functioning correctly, any problems that arise will automatically be blamed on the software, and possibly the person who decided it was a good idea.

Wayne
At the moment I have only gathered data and suggested scheduling software. At this point I've been trying to figure in a way to improve on his current system. Yes, implementing a better process and communication structure is the best bet, but trying to integrate that with an individual who has so much experience with handling the schedule "his way" is a bit daunting to me. Granted, I've dealt with worse so it just takes time, patience and dedication.

I have considered one-piece flow, the only issue that comes up is the customization that printing has. We aren't a commodity shop, we do mostly custom work. Having a specific workflow from one step to the next is a bit hard when the factors of a job are all different and can vary considerably.

Any ideas on how to handle that aspect would be greatly appreciated.

-Matt
 
W

wmarhel

#4
I have considered one-piece flow, the only issue that comes up is the customization that printing has. We aren't a commodity shop, we do mostly custom work. Having a specific workflow from one step to the next is a bit hard when the factors of a job are all different and can vary considerably.

Any ideas on how to handle that aspect would be greatly appreciated.
We did custom printing as well, including having to wait for customer sign-offs before release to production. But, the key is to handle each order in a one-piece fashion, instead of having 20-30 jobs trying to be processed at the same time. Perhaps you might find Goldratt's book, "Critical Chain" to be of some use.

Wayne
 
M

mattf

#5
Wayne:

Thanks for the suggestion, I'm thinking about getting it after reading a review. A suggestion was placed out that reading "The Goal", his first book on the subject, would be helpful in understanding "Critical Chain". Whether that is true or not we shall see :p
 
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