Look no Further.
So often manufacturing companies embark on improvement projects that drag on longer than anticipated, draining resources and causing disruption to current processes over an extended period of time. Despite lengthy planning and implementation processes, these projects can still manage to end with less than favourable results that aren’t sustainable over the long term.
Are you looking for a strategy with impressive results despite minimal investment of time and energy, that won’t turn your current processes and systems upside down? Let us introduce you to the concept of Product Wheel Scheduling: a method focused on a regularly repeating sequence of the production of various products, optimized to simplify changeovers, increase throughput, and reduce loss. A close analysis of production scheduling and how it can be enhanced can quickly result in significant, sustained improvements.
Due to a few key characteristics of Product Wheel implementation, time to value is fast-tracked, with visible payoffs less than a year from the start of the project that will continue long after the project has come to an end. Outlined below are the top three reasons why Product Wheels result in immediate value, making them ideal throughput improvement projects.
One of the many benefits of Product Wheel improvement projects is their ability for rapid, holistic execution. Using proven processes that incorporate a short, well proven roadmap, Product Wheels are often implemented within six months; sometimes over a much shorter duration of time. The speed and effectiveness of implementation means you’ll start to see lasting improvements in no time. Having a tightly bound project reduces the likelihood of having to manage changes in production line-up, environment, or forecast change before implementation is finalized. Once the wheels are up and running, these changes are easily incorporated into scheduling – you’ll experience smooth sailing and be equipped with the tools to easily manage any waves that come your way.
Quick wins along the way
Product Wheel implementation allows wheel components to be rolled out as they are identified as beneficial, resulting in quick wins throughout the project’s lifespan in addition to the lasting payoffs experienced when the project is complete. Key elements that result in immediate value as soon as the scheduling sequence hits the line includes:
- Identifying ideal run lengths: Using Product Wheels, optimal run lengths are determined by balancing inventory with changeover costs. High volume products are made every cycle, whereas lower volume products may be made every second or fourth cycle, and others may be deemed most appropriate to run on a make-to-order basis. Running products only as frequently as the run length will justify the changeover reduces the number of changeovers and lends a hand in keeping your inventory, and its associated costs, in check.
- Grouping products into families: As part of the Product Wheel implementation process, every product parameter needing to be adjusted on any changeover is closely examined. This may include parameters such as bottle diameter and height, cap type, or allergen content. Gaining a full understanding of these parameters provides an opportunity to strategically group products into families based on similar key changeover characteristics. Product families are run together on the same line, reducing the complexity of changeovers required and their associated costs.
- Optimal allocation of production: Families of products are allocated to a specific production machine or packing line, significantly reducing the number of parameters needing to change on any given line. Rather than a line running 8 bottle diameters within a month for example, it may be reduced to running only three. The result: simpler, faster changeovers and immediate value.
Leverage what you already have
Rather than turn your world completely upside down, Product Wheels work to leverage your existing resources. Rather than introduce a new system, Product Wheels can be made compatible with your existing system. Instead of building another line to meet production needs, optimize the scheduling of your current lines to uncover capacity you didn’t realize you had. Product Wheel implementation can be so effective at increasing capacity in fact, that production lines are sometimes left idle. Empower your key players to gain the knowledge and skill to efficiently maintain Product Wheel schedules day to day, freeing up the resources needed to effectively respond to rush orders, other disruptions, and preventative maintenance. Rather than starting from scratch, Product Wheels work to optimize what’s already in place by building capacity and resource capability.
If you’re looking for an effective throughput improvement project that will demonstrate quick results and pays for itself in less than a year, Product Wheels are the way to go. These projects can go from start to finish rapidly, result in immediate payoffs throughout the implementation process, and work to leverage your existing resources and capabilities. Product Wheels only require changes in work processes; they do not require any capital equipment modifications or additions.
To support companies in gaining the knowledge to easily and effectively use Product Wheel schedules day to day, Zinata Inc. has created the Product Wheel Accelerator. The accelerator supports the planning, design, and implementation of Product Wheels, and includes proven tools and knowledge gained from decades of experience.
Peter L. King, CSCP, is a principal consultant at Zinata Inc. specializing in the application of lean concepts to process manufacturing and global supply chains. Previously, he spent 42 years at DuPont where he transformed manufacturing operations and global supply chains through Value Stream Mapping, Supply Chain Mapping, inventory optimization, and other Lean tools. King is the author of several books including The Product Wheel Handbook. King may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alan H. Nall is a principal consultant with Zinata Inc. specializing in manufacturing improvement and program and project management. Prior to Zinata Inc, he spent 32 years working for and with companies like P&G, DuPont, Eli Lilly & Co., Pioneer Hi-Bred, MillerCoors, and NBTY, consistently identifying and executing change that has improved results, saved money and built capability. Nall may be contacted at email@example.com.