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Invitation to Workshop on Creating Pull for Flexibility

Piyush 2014-08-22

 Pull System

Pull system can be defined as in manufacturing can be defined by as one in which items are produced “only as demanded for use, or to replace those taken for use.”

 Prerequisites of Pull Systems

It is widely believed that Kanban and pull system are interchangeable terms. In considering pull systems, however, it is imperative to recognize that they go far beyond the simple mechanics of Kanban. Pull systems involve a significant change in culture and operating circumstances. Further, although the usual execution system associated with pull systems is Kanban, pull objectives can be achieved without it by using one of the many other techniques available in current technology. The optimum system may in fact be a portfolio of approaches to meet the diverse needs of a particular environment. The key of implementing a successful pull system lies in overcoming inertia and creating momentum.

The first opportunity lies in internal education. The management team must understand the fundamental principles of lean thinking and pull systems, and make sure that all associates are educated about the benefits and prerequisites of the system. Education cannot stop at the front office; every employee must understand the principles and objectives of a pull environment if the new systems are to be successful. Later, extending this to the whole distribution chain.

One of the fatal flaws, which can cripple a pull system, is failing to constantly monitor and adjust the parameters on which the pull signals are based. A pull system would collapse that arose from a ‘set it and forget it” approach to the parameters.

Consider that the key variables in pull system parameters are lead time and demand. If either varies by more than + 10% 1 – 20%, the parameters may need to be up- dated. Thus, implementing a system requires not only defining and programming the algorithms for calculating pull signals, but also identifying and programming the “management by exception” tools that will monitor the parameters in place. Use of IT systems would be required for this.

Portfolio of Pull Systems

Although pull systems have many advantages, it may not be suitable to all the cases. Some cases may require a portfolio of systems. Pull systems have generally proven themselves in environments in which high-volume, generally continuous production exists. But many companies offer a broad range of products with stratified demands. For those companies, products may be differentiated into three general categories:

High-volume repetitive production: Suitable for Kanban system

Intermediate-volume intermittent batch production: Kanban system may be the objective, with current efforts devoted to reductions in setup times and lot sizes.

Low-volume batch production:  it is not uncommon for these items to be produced very infrequently (e.g., one to three times per year). The production lots at the end product level create inventory, but (until more efficient and flexible manufacturing processes are introduced) may be unavoidable.

Over ordered position can be defined as any case in which the total of the on-hand inventory and on-order/ released future quantities exceeds usage through lead time plus the reorder quantity policy for the item (plus a management-defined judgment factor).

Under ordered position can be defined as any case in which the total of the on-hand inventory and on-order/released future quantities is less than usage through lead-time. The exceptions can then be analysed for corrective action (if required).

Traits to Make Pull Systems Work in favour of Creating Flexibility:

  • The ability to meet specific schedules
  • The ability to supply exact quantities
  • The ability to supply quality products
  • The ability to adjust deliveries and quantities to meet changing needs
  • The ability to perform all of these activities with a minimum off paperwork

Lean Simulation Game : for understanding the concept of “Creating Pull for flexibility”

This is a simulation of the business situations which the real life manufacturing industries go through in their normal traditional course vis-a-vis how these business situations can be improved by using the common sense techniques which require very little or no investment.

We shall be playing a Simulation Game for understanding the concept in entirety. The full value stream is recreated in a playful manner to resemble a paper plane manufacturing line. The different departments are designated and roles defined, where the participants are involved in the production process and then asked to improve the process by applying the concept of Pull Production. The constraints put in the game is similar to what the day to day operations at any manufacturing facility would look like.

There are easy and simple ways to make improvements in any existing situation. Your past experience need not always teach you the best method.  Always there is room for improvement.  This is a very important ‘paradigm’ which the entire team goes through.

The improvement need not only be through the expensive route of investment.  In fact continuous application of ‘common sense’ is far more important & rewarding then the investment. Improvement of output in any manufacturing shop is not due to increase in manpower.  Instead the importance should be given to Productivity.

High level of Inventory may not really improve “customer service”.  On the contrary it may, most often, reduce the customer service. Inventories in any business ‘do not’ solve the problem in fact inventories ‘hide’ the ‘real issue’. Attack the ‘issues’ at its root.

Purpose of this Game:  The purpose of this simulation Game is to cause to a small group of people (15 to 20) an experience & learning about the following aspects of Business Situations,

  •  Daily Difficulties in Traditional Business Situation,
  •  Adverse effects of a Batch /Mass Manufacturing Systems,
  •  Suggest ways & means to identify the root causes of getting in to such a situation,
  • Help team members develop a solution through problem,

In brief this Simulation Games provide the team members an experiential learning of various business aspects and that too all in a short time of 4 to 8 hours.

The programme is suitable for Planning and Production Control, Operations, Quality, Auditors, Supply Chain Staff, Vendor Management, Stores, Inventory Managers and Plant Head

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