To properly manage an acceptable production flow, relative to the demands of your customer (and in pursuit of on-time, on-budget), a set of rules derived from our previous post’s key points can be established, based on Theory of Constraints logic. These points are intended to drive the logic of your MRP. You can find them here, and they are summarized below:
1. Establish the due date requirements for the orders or demand. This provides the first and “ideal” drum to work to.
2. Identify the CCRs (Capacity Constraint Resources) in the system.
3. Develop a Drum or a schedule for the CCRs which makes best use of them and is in-line with the needs of the market. The drum is effectively the master production schedule which establishes the “drum beat” and control for the entire system.
4. Protect the throughput of the factory from statistical fluctuations through the use of time buffers at critical locations. Time buffers are strategically located to protect the throughput of the entire system and to protect the due dates promised to customers.
5. Use logistical ropes tied to the CCR drum schedules for each resource. The ropes synchronize all non CCRs to generate the timely release of the right materials into the system at the right time. Ropes ensure that operations upstream of CCRs are time phased to CCR requirements and operations downstream do not subsequently impede product flow.
In your overall scheduling, you should insert buffers along the way to protect the constraints from disruptions, expected or otherwise. Your schedule (The Rope) releases material into your system on a timely basis, tied to the size of these buffers, in order to increase the likelihood of smooth, continuous flow.
A schedule, which above all is intended to be do-able and realistic, is only as good as the team’s ability to manage it, to make it happen. Focusing on constraints and the correct imposition of buffers (in the right place and size) will help improve the success of your schedule, especially when Murphy raises his head, as invariably happens. And to come full circle, by managing the critical resource constraints with good scheduling and appropriate systemic buffers, new smaller constraints may begin to appear. At that point, you go back to step one, identifying and attacking the new constraints – in the ultimate process of continuous improvement.
Next up, some final thoughts…