Jackson Productivity Research Inc.
Productivity is our middle name

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Our Productivity and Industrial Engineering Books, click cover for contents

Industrial Engineering includes the contents of Time and Motion Study, Layout, and Cost Reduction; but not Construction Piece Rates .

Productivity and Management Article Series click for Index

Manufacturing Productivity Toolbelt

Classic and Modern, Public Domain and Proprietary

To improve manufacturing productivity, to cut cost and add output, many tools and practices are useful for specific applications and problems. Some tools identify and quantify issues, some solve the problems found. Jackson Productivity Research Inc. uses these tools and practices to review client manufacturing operations, to isolate and correct problems.

JPR will be glad to share our ideas, to address your questions.

Is your operating strategy correct for today's economy?

Use these tools to find out.

  • Pareto; ABC understanding of costs and problems enterprise-wide

  • Product pruning, lop off the non-profitable products

  • Dedicated / flexible operators? Assigned to one product or many

  • Dedicated or flexible process? Assigned to one product or many

  • Scheduling, purchasing, overhead leverage, distribution patterns and methods

  • Staff your operations for 1) low cost or 2) high output? They will not yield the same direct labor cost, nor output, nor overall productivity nor cost especially relating to absorption.

  • New product introduction practice; discipline to get it right before production.

  • Make versus buy analysis, a golden oldie

  • Vertical integration offers promise?

Standardize and document the processes

Bill of materials; CAD-CAM; standard operator methods for repeatability; operating procedures; machine settings; router; training manuals; quality standards, inspection criteria, limit samples, preventive maintenance, bar codes.

Choose materials planning and scheduling tools

Carefully choose from Just In Time (JIT) or Just In Case. Select adaptations such as Kan Ban, Continuous Work Flow, batch processes; EOQ. Recognize that MRP and JIT are mutually exclusive. Define cycle times and batch sizes to meet customer demands and timing, within the inventory and scheduling system. Perhaps something as simple as two bin inventory?

How will you control materials?

Actual control or virtual / electronic; inventory accuracy; coding of location; kit issue. Visible stock, Visible record. In line WIP or set aside. Good space cube utilization; racks, aisles, heights, density,

Define factory overhead accurately

If overhead costs are not accurately defined and allocated, the published standard cost is meaningless at best; at worst it is harmful because it leads to wrong decisions about pricing and profitability. Correct decisions can only be supported by correct information.

ABC costing is a superior technique, I believe. Identify and define the major overhead contributors, assign them to the product cost where they occur. When you do that, you will likely find major surprises and relationships. Make judgments based on the newly developed product cost. If you subsequently, eliminate or reduce the cost, measure what remains appropriately.

Do you intend to use a formal engagement of people?

Quality Circles, Team Building, Suggestion Systems, Work Simplification, Value Analysis, profit sharing, AESOP

Define the quality system.

Choose the overall syatem and appropriate components.

Statistical Quality Control (Deming), Zero Defects (Phil Crosby), Quality Circles, Six Sigma, Dr. Juran, Total Quality Management or TQM, Malcolm Baldridge Award, ISO 9000 et al, Design of Experiments (Taguchi), Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

Optimize equipment and process steps

1. Correct problems quickly. Identify production constraints, manage them, and staff all other tasks according to the constrained output level. Then in order, raise the constraints. Balance lines to the constraint.

2) Consolidate and integrate products to generate the most profitable product mix.

3) Minimize the cost of line changes, in two distinct ways:

  • Reduce the frequency of line changes through careful planning and choice of batch sises. Recognize that changeovers may be in the name of customer service, but that they have a cost in manufacturing productivity loss.

  • Keep equipment up through rapid changeover, Single Minute Change of Die; utilize maintenance anuals, preventive maintenance, equipment history, replacement parts stocked, a sense of urgency at breakdown maintenance.

4) Schedule purchases and production to meet sales demands. Don't start product until all parts are on hand and accepted; if parts are late, correct the faulty mechanism and realize that manufacturing losses will occur.

5) Set acceptability of components and product compared to customer needs, adapt specs accordingly. Thumb tacks don't need pharmaceutical level specs.

6) Create ergonomic workplaces to ease job stress and injuries.

7) Measure work and build into labor and cost standards, and also to set crew sizes, to define capacity, to schedule lines, balance workloads, justify equipment, analyze variance.

8) Provide performance reporting of: Actual versus standard cost; Absorption of overhead, Schedule, Cycle time, Backorder; Quality, Scrap, Rework cost, Cost of Quality;

For, Direct labor, indirect labor, utilization / capacity / constraints; changeover time; downtime reports; scheduling constraints; efficiency, productivity. New product introduction cycle.

9) Apply real-time work assignment (RTWA). Give out one job, agree with the person when it will be done (usually a few hours or less), have the person give it back to you on time, when you assign the next job. RTWA looks like and probably is micromanagement, but it is often useful to gain a quick control of a problem area, especially maintenance, warehouse, and other functions with job-order characteristics of regular tasks, done at irregular intervals. Both leader and employee will get positive reinforcement from each task completed, and both will be sure that each task is correctly done as a solid base for the next step.

10) Utilize surplus people; Identify and separate them physically. Use for a labor pool to fill absentee, fill open jobs, relieve at break / lunch, train in concepts such as Lean, add a production shift, man for capacity rather than efficiency especially on bottleneck equipment, overlooked functions such as preventive maintenance, avoid buying equipment just for labor productivity reasons, fill in for people being trained / cross trained, perform contracted functions, add features to products, community service.

What's Next?

Thanks for your attention; I hope this adds to your perspective. As you consider the tools that are effective in today's business, JPR will be glad to share what we know about the subject, and will welcome your inquiry. And if you then seek experienced help, Jackson Productivity Research Inc. will help you take practical actions to accomplish your scope, based on your organization's situation and objectives, timetable and budget.


There's no cost or obligation to contact Jack Greene at 843-422-1298