Material Requisition Process - Improvement Needed

  • Thread starter LeonelAguilar352
  • Start date



I'm currently trying to improve the process that we have to request material from warehouse; the company I work for makes electronic switches, so we have very small components and production have a tendency to destroy them or mess up, so we find ourselves with many material requisitions per day (like a 100).

The current process is the following:

- Operator notice that he will need more material to complete the order.
- He notifies the Group Leader and starts to fill a requisition form.
- He takes the requisition to the Production Supervisor for him to sign it.
- Then he takes it to the Planner so he may sign it or advise that we don't have any more material.
- If we do have material, then he takes the requisition to Warehouse so they can provide the operator with the pieces he needs to complete the order.

In my opinion they have to travel A LOT to get the signatures and get approved the request. That process is the same every day except when:

- The request is for more than 20dlls worth of material. If this happens then the Engineer has to sign the request and make sure there isn't a problem with the machine.
- The request is for more than 50dlls worth of material. If this happens then the Plant Manager has to sign it and get involved on why this is happening.

But according to my research, that engineer gets requisitions to sign roughly 2 times a month; and so far in our history the manager has never needed to be involved.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to improve this?... I was thinking about making the process electronic, having the operator fill a document on the computer that the planner can see in real time; then the operator will just go back to his place while the planner approves the request and sends the order to warehouse to comply with that requisition.... but the main stop on that plan is that the warehouse people cannot be standing by the computer to see if a requisition has been added to the system.

Any idea would help!

Thanks a lot!

John Broomfield

Super Moderator
Authorize small purchases by company credit card and take action to stop repeatedly destroying the switches by removal of the root causes.


Looking for Reality
Trusted Information Resource
production have a tendency to destroy them or mess up,

many material requisitions per day (like a 100).

In my opinion they have to travel A LOT to get the signatures and get approved the request.

Rubbing these three together with my experience and coming up with a great way to not do really boring work.

Mess up a few bits (less than $20 worth), and get a break from the boring stuff you are making me do and let me walk around and talk to people instead.

Question: Does the count go down in winter when it's cold out? and up in summer on sunny days?

Just thinking out loud.


You need to get some metrics, is the problem common to all line workers, or is it the same 3 or 4 people always breaking things. If it's common, take a look at error proofing and Poka yoke, a simple fixture might cut defects. If you do have a problem with the workforce making their own breaks on the company dime, well I defer to the older managers on this site.

I have found that the better you light the work area, circulate airflow and provide for unobtrusive comfort aids ( supportive floor mats or good chairs) the more alert and happy people doing repetitive tasks are. Elsmar folks will usually tell you to look deeper into your problem, just because it seems off topic doesn't always mean it is.


Change Agent and Data Storyteller
Super Moderator
To put it simply, I see 2 main issues that need to be addressed:

  1. Process errors/environment leading to waste
  2. Awareness of $$$ being spent

Process errors/environment leading to waste

Your organization needs to understand WHY these errors are occurring. It is not adequate (or appropriate) to blame the operators or, as you said, "...production have a tendency to destroy them or mess up...". That is simply the EFFECT, not the CAUSE.

As was suggested, reviewing the work environment and the process and the capability of production is needed.

Work environment would include things such as heating/cooling, lighting, cleanliness, and even the layout of the production line. Too hot, too cold, too dark, too bright, too dirty, too ergonomically incorrect could lead to fatigued workers and/or product defects.

Process refers to the sequence of steps and activities, supporting the review of the production line layout. However, if the process requires certain activities be done and then UN-done, this results in more handling of the product and increases the likelihood of damage.

Capability of production in this case refers to both the tools/technology needed AND provided to complete the production of the product, and it also refers to the knowledge and skill set of the workers. Consider this...if you were given a small plane so that you could go away on a trip, you have been provided with the tools/technology. However, if you have not been trained on how to fly, the plane is useless to you.

There are many factors that could be resulting in the waste and defects, but until your organizations understands WHY, it may be unreasonable to expect an improvement to happen simply by changing the requisition process.

I would highly recommend that a fishbone diagram (Ishikawa) be used in a session with team members from ALL levels (engineers, warehouse, production line employees, etc.).

Awareness of $$$ being spent

You may think that the $$$ being spent is high, but does anyone else?

A time study would help to show the cost of a defect and could include:

  • Cost of scrapped product - includes cost of actual product, disposal pickup, etc.
  • Cost of employee time to complete paperwork for each level/position involved
  • Cost of employee time to move paperwork around
  • Cost of employee time to find material
  • Cost of employee (and equipment, if applicable) time to deliver material
  • Cost of employee time spent waiting for product/delaying the line

The other aspect to consider is the signature process. If the current thresholds for signoffs are such that minimal signoffs are occurring, it may be time to lower those $$$ limits. An Engineer is going to be annoyed that she or he is suddenly being asked to review more paperwork each month...and the Plant Manager will more than likely want to know what is going on (or what is wrong) that she or he now must sign off on all these new requisitions.

Look at the data you have and consider how many requests were > 10dlls. Pretend these would go to the Engineers...what is the total number of requests now? You could then set the Plant Manager limit to > 20dlls and you'll know that she or he will receive 2 a month.

That's an arbitrary way of resetting the limits. You could do it a bit more mathematically:

  1. Calculate the average request $$$ value.
  2. Calculate - as an example - 2 standard deviations above the average; this will become the Engineering signature limit and indicates that 75% of material requests are lower than the Engineering limit.
  3. Calculate - as an example - 4 standard deviations above the average; this will become the Plant Manager signature limit and indicates that 94% of the materials requests are lower than the Plant Manager limit

Using standard deviations will allow you to mathematically adjust your limits as tighter process controls (and hopefully less waste and defects) are established.

Last, but not least, review, analyze and report on the $$$ spent on material requests and the cost of unquality. Pareto the data to show common trends such as particular shifts/crews, product lines, material, etc.

I applaud your organization's recognition of what could be an amazing improvement opportunity! However, I strongly caution you to attribute the waste and defects to solely production. A more thorough analysis is needed, as is awareness of the current state (i.e., data and trends) and root cause(s), plus a commitment to tightening the controls.
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