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October 2015 • SMT Magazine 55 ing case study illustrates just how much cycle time can be regained with only a small process change and the reorganization of a few cubicles. company A Company A is a $24 million manufacturer of custom components serving the industrial, tele - com and instrumentation market sectors. Com- pany A reported a gradual loss of market share over the past two years along with increased customer pressure to reduce their standard 4–6 week lead-time to be more in line with their competitor's 3–4 weeks. TRA c was contracted to perform a comprehensive "order entry to ship- ping" assessment and develop a cycle time re- duction implementation plan. office Assessment The assessment discovered that, on average, two-and-a-half weeks of Company A's lead-time was being consumed by office functions: sales, order entry, CAM, engineering and purchasing. A major collateral impact of this was that pro - duction was always put in the position of hav- ing to build product in a 3–4 week timeframe. Orders flow through the office functions in a linear fashion that tended to be batch processed. For example, each inside sales person would wait until they had a pile of orders before mov- ing them to the order entry folks, which was repeated through the other functional groups. Sales booked an average of six quick-turn jobs per week, which became the top priority in each department, delaying every other standard pro- duction order in the queue regardless of due date. Another major cause of delay was techni- cal questions from engineering that were filtered through sales back to the customer. Because of poor communication, it was frequently discov- ered that raw materials or components were not ordered in time to meet the delivery dates. Fi- nally, every order went through the same path regardless of complexity. the office WorK cell Solution The first step was to analyze the type of or- ders coming into sales based on the production steps required to build them. The results showed that roughly 25% of all orders only went through about 55% of the process steps with the balance requiring most of the steps. A designator was set up in the ERP system to differentiate between these two categories, using "L" for low complex- ity orders and "H" for high complexity. The next step was to set up an Office WORK Cell (Figure 1), which physically located a per- son in the cell from sales, engineering/CAM, purchasing, scheduling, manufacturing, and quality. The key is to have these functions in an open, collaborative work cell where communi- cation is instant, engineering can hear and par- ticipate with sales on technical discussions with customers, and drawings can be reviewed with all the major stakeholders at the same time. The final step was to route all "L" jobs and "Q" (quick-turn) jobs through the office WORK Cell. It is critical that the type of jobs designed for the cell is of sufficient volume to sustain the cell; if not, the scope should be expanded. The key here is that the personnel in the cell are ded - icated to only "L" and "Q" jobs with any down- time being spent cross training in the other cell functions to handle surges. results The results were significant: Cycle times on "L" & "Q" jobs through the office WORK cell were reduced from 12.5 days to three days, giv - ing production an extra 9.5 days to actually build the product! Because these orders were no longer running through the standard office path, a collateral cycle time reduction benefit was also realized on "H" jobs. Next month, we will look at the second part of WORK implementation: setting up physical, virtual and hybrid WORK Cells in production to maximize the cycle time reduction benefits. SMt Steve Williams is the president of The right approach consult- ing llc and the former strategic sourcing manager for plexus corp. He is the author of four books, including Quality 101 Handbook and Survival Is Not Mandatory: 10 Things Every CEO Should Know about Lean. To read past columns, or to contact Williams, click here. cycLe tIMe reductIon WIth WorK, PArt I The righT APPrOACh

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