Last week, we talked about run rates in manufacturing: how critical and complex they are, how difficult they are to calculate and how tricky they are to move.  Diving deeper into the critical numbers that you can look to for a real read on your manufacturing health, we look today to how the quantity and type of work affects run rate. 

Again, there are obvious answers here.  Those are things that you can easily read about and use your ERP to connect with. We’re going beyond those initial answers to look into what kind of work and why and how.  Things that your ERP, no matter how custom, can never answer for you.

When you agree to make something – a part, a unit, a process, a stack of inventory – you do not know how it can or will affect or be affected by all the other things you also agreed to make.  Even if you only make one thing at a time, outside factors will intervene and often cause you to lose your way on the production path.

During the pandemic that we are going through right now, these factors are multiplied many times over.  Uncertainty is causing much more change in demand, capacity and constraint.  If all three combine to create a perfect storm on your manufacturing shop floor, you have real problems.  Demand is up and down.  Customers are making change requests to order in process.  Can you even ratchet up (or down) production rates based on the number of people that you have available for the work or do you just try to get as much done as possible? 

Work is not predictable unless you have reliable information for what’s required, what resources you have to do the work and when and where you have capacity.  Breaking that down into a simpler pattern, if you need to make a certain product today, can you say for certain that you have knowledgeable employees, machines that are ready and capable of doing the work, all the materials you require and none of these items is currently required anywhere else?  Only when you can answer all of these questions in the affirmative can you say yes to the work. 

Systems are the answer.  With a system that can read, in real-time, what’s going on on your shop floor and determine the minute changes that are required in order to get all the work that you require done today, you can more reliably predict whether you can make a promise for completion or not. 

We talk about systems a lot because we believe in them.  The intricacies of the manufacturing shop floor are always too much for a human with spreadsheets to manage.  The coordinated efforts that you must make in order to make production work require algorithms that the normal human just can’t make work.

If you have a system to handle the work and help the people, is that enough?  Often, but not always.  Next week, we dive into machines.  Without them, it would be almost impossible to get your work done. 


In 2020, we are rolling out meaningful tools for manufacturers that are affordable, on-target and competitive.  We are also expanding our educational offerings.      

We believe in the critical importance of manufacturing right here in North America and we work hard to keep you working.  Ask us questions; you will find that we are far more reachable than other software providers you may partner with.  We are here to help you find the right tools and use them, whether it's a Google doc, an Excel sheet or a Production Control system.  To learn more about meeting your targets for 2020 or just getting a question answered, visit us at