Operations management

Transform operations into a high-throughput machine that consistently hits deadlines

Every day, you strive to maximise productivity. Efficiency numbers are up, but in-full, on-time performance is down.

You do your best to control costs by balancing capacities but you have to fight fires to get jobs out on time — and firefighting costs money.

You create detailed plans to ensure jobs complete on-time — then customers make last-minute changes or demand urgent jobs. The market is chaotic. But your factory floor should not be!

Why a capacity-balanced plant isn’t the solution!

Every factory floor is made up of operations with finite capacities, dependencies and variability.

No one will argue with that, right! However, traditional improvement practices embrace finite capacities but ignore dependencies and variability.

More importantly, they ignore the toxic combination of dependences AND variability within a capacity-balanced plant where delays compound delays until you’re overwhelmed by a massive backlog of unfinished, overdue orders.

Find and exploit your bottleneck

The solution is to maintain a small number of strategically-located queues of WIP within your plant.

You can easily determine the placement, size and make-up of these queues using the ultimate source of management intelligence: your bottleneck (or constraint).

With strategic WIP queues, it becomes possible to manage the production and release of work so the constraint always has work.

And with the knowledge that plant output can only ever be the same as the output of your constraint, it’s finally possible to meaningfully schedule the volume and sequence of jobs so more work gets out the door on time!

Five focusing steps to drive throughput

This solution can be expressed in the following five simple steps that allow you to establish a process of on-going improvement to drive-up throughput and consistently hit deadlines.

The Five Focusing Steps of POOGI*

*a process of On-Going Improvement

Prevent inertia from becoming the constraint!

An elevated constraint may not remain the weakest link. In that case, return to step 1 to continue to drive improvement.

Elevate the constraint

Only consider adding more resources or machines once alternate ways to strengthen the constraint are exhausted, this is where the focus of continuous improvement must be.

Subordinate everything to the constraint

Once the bottleneck is fully exploited, use other non-constraint resources to support the decisions to exploit the bottleneck when possible.

Exploit the constraint

Strengthen the system by strengthening that weak link. Remove or limit interruptions. Prioritise its most important work and never let it be idle.

Identify the constraint

System output is determined by one bottleneck. A bottleneck is usually busy, and has piles of work in front of it.

How to get a head start

It’s entirely possible to go it alone and use The Theory of Constraints yourself to re-engineer your production operations.

But if you want to get to the end-state quickly — with minimal or no backtracking — then we’re here to help.

We work closely with clients to solve their challenges with lead times, on-time performance and operational costs. We identify your production constraint, determine where you need an inventory buffer (and where you don’t), and enable you to rapidly improve system throughput without damaging stability.

If you’d like we can do a factory analysis and a 40-minute executive briefing with you and your senior team to help you explore the potential of TOC to transform your operations. At the minimum, you’ll come away with some simple initiatives that you can move on right away to test the validity of TOC (and generate some quick performance improvements).

Request Solution Design Workshop Overview

Andy regularly runs Solution Design Workshops across the United Kingdom. His calendar tends to be heavily booked so it’s wise to plan in advance.

Complete the form and we’ll send you a detailed overview, including pricing options. Andy will almost certainly want to speak with you before committing to run a workshop (primarily to confirm there is potential for him to deliver significant value).