Getting and Staying Productive: Applying Swift, Even Flow to Practice
All kinds of processes - those that make things or deliver services or operate companies - can be made more productive, and society's continued well-being requires it. This book is for all those with a stake in improving how companies run. It introduces the concept of 'swift, even flow' and explains how that concept stands behind popular business tools such as 'lean' principles and Six Sigma. More than that, it shows how swift, even flow can lead to deep, strategic insights and fresh ideas. The book uses many examples, both contemporary and historic, and 16 case studies from all sorts of business situations to demonstrate how swift, even flow can be applied. Services and manufacturing, supply chains and individual operations, product development and outsourcing, strategy and tactics, hourly workers and top level executives - all benefit from this fundamental re-thinking of what it takes to become productive.
sure that wait times are high. You can’t have both high utilization and low wait times, especially not in a job shop or batch operation. This is hard for many managers. Akin to nature abhorring a vacuum, managers abhor idle capacity. The relex is to squeeze in just one more job. But, like gravity, the relationship between wait time and capacity utilization is a law of nature. The only thing that you can do to improve things is to try to reduce the variation in quantities and timing so that you
so that mid-season color changes can be accommodated easily. • Connecting its factories via monorails to its vast distribution complex in Spain. • Owning the bulk of its stores worldwide and being in constant touch with them to i nd out what is selling and what is not. • Shipping directly, and routinely, to those stores from its massive complex of distribution centers in Spain. This system can produce roughly 11,000 distinct items each year, considerably more than competitors. If items do not
the guise of more lexibility – than may be warranted by the business. It may cause managers to stray from the task of hunting down variation in quantities and timing and taking steps to limit that variation. For some managers, it may seem that automation is the silver bullet, providing both lexibility and low cost, effortlessly, simply Revisiting the usual suspects 41 by purchasing the right piece of equipment. Of such thinking, white elephants are born. New equipment is conventionally justiied
make up my list of the “usual suspects.” They describe plausible policies for productivity gain, but in the end, they are not the sure, satisfying steps to take to keep productivity growing. They can work sometimes, but they do not provide the most fruitful ways to think about productivity. No. 1. Chopping heads When costs are deemed too high, the frequent management reaction is that “heads have to roll.” It’s a seductive notion. People’s wages and salaries are certainly a highly visible cost.
on the basis of direct labor (or, alternatively, for processes that are heavily automated, on the basis of machine hours). The notion that overhead expenses actually get saved when direct labor (or machine hours) is removed from the process strains credulity for many operations people. Some i ne work by Jeff Miller and Tom Vollmann7 has shown that overhead is better identiied with transactions than with direct labor. Free the factory of transactions (order entry, inventory control, production