Update 09/03/19: today, as we post this blog, Hurricane Dorian is sitting over the Bahamas. Little is yet known about how much damage has been done at this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.
Whether you believe in global warming or not (we do try to make these blogs historically relevant without being political statements), it’s difficult to watch or read the news without seeing stories about smaller icebergs, deforestation and shifting weather patterns. We’re not going to talk here about what’s causing those. We’re more concerned with the idea that things are always changing, even those things that you rely on for stability.
What do you do when the things that you count on being constant shift?
Weather is one of those constants in our lives. Depending on where you live, you expect the patterns of the seasons, water and temperature, to be consistent from year to year. Everything you buy and do depends on it. At work and at home, you rely on the weather to be relatively even from day to day, week to week, season to season, year to year. It would be safe to say that you probably never have created a plan for what to do when the weather shifts dramatically from its current pattern. It’s something you count on.
What do you count on in your business? What items are there that you assume will be the same from period to period? Do you always assume that your sales will be stable or rise? Do you figure
that your ability to get and keep good workers will be about the same tomorrow that it is today? (I think we’ve all seen a shift in that over time, as new generations of workers have changed how we think about commitment to an organization or a job.) Have you ever thought about what would happen if your ability to get the basic supplies for your business (raw materials, contracted assemblies, goods and services that you require to build your products) dramatically shifted? Disappeared?
What could you do to prepare yourself should that happen? Is it wiser to build a plan for the events that you think might happen or would it be better to just make yourself and your organization more flexible to handle whatever may come?
Be Flexible or Have a Plan?
I feel like we’ve asked a lot of questions today, so let’s try some answers here. I’m always in favor of flexibility over a plan. A plan is only as good as the speed with which you can achieve that. You see that everywhere. Let’s use a sports analogy to illustrate this.
When you get to Olympic-caliber sports, athletes have a plan for everything they think will happen. They bring extra equipment. They train for injury prevention and they even build a plan for varying weather conditions, especially for those who train and compete outdoors. But the highest caliber athletes also build resilience into their plan. The ones who win may find the ability to “grab the gold” simply because they were more flexible than their competitors and were able to overcome an unexpected set of circumstances that could not be controlled, but had to be competed in.
Why Production Control Matters
The same thing applies for you as a manufacturer. You need to be flexible because none of us know what is going to happen tomorrow in our business, our economy, our world. Your largest customer could shift tomorrow (note that I don’t wish that on anyone, but it happens). Instead of planning for every single thing that could go wrong, why not focus on what you could to about it, not knowing what it is?
Building a manufacturing plan for flexibility starts with complete Production Control. If you don’t know what’s going on in production today, then you have little capacity to see where you could implement changes that would be effective when something goes wrong. Production Control involves knowing a few critical things:
- what is going on at any moment in time including what may happen tomorrow,
- how much time and money you actually spend on the work you do and
- when you are or are not going to be able to complete your work on time.
These three pieces of data are perhaps the most important information that your shop needs and can use.
Researching your next shop floor solution? Start with the fundamentals:
What the Size of Your Shop Says About Your Production Needs
What Do You Need to Know to be Flexible?
When you know what’s going on at any time, you have the ability to pivot in order to take care of an issue when something unexpected happens. A live schedule, one that changes automatically as work progresses through production, gives you immediate access to these choices. If you know how much it actually costs you to produce your goods, as business shifts you can increase (or decrease) the work you do, how you do it and how much you charge for it to reduce any negative impact of the change. It also helps you know how much work you can take on. Lastly, when you know what work you will complete on time (and, more importantly, which one(s) you won’t), you can plan for an inevitable problem coming down the pike and avoid it.
This last one is perhaps the most critical because it’s the only one that gives you the control to affect your future. Your ability to predict on-time work gives you the ability to avoid issues. It’s you controlling your outcomes, reducing the numbers of problems you have to solve. The reason we don’t put it first on the list is that you need to know what’s going on right now and the time and cost of production in order to be able to get there.
Production Control is tricky. In today’s ever-shifting “whether” patterns in manufacturing, however, it’s absolutely critical. And there’s something that you can do about it today, no matter your size. Curious? Ask us how at www.cimx.com/askcimx.
Don’t put your company at risk by leaving the keys to your data in the wrong hands. Work with the CIMx Experts that understand security is not a nice to have; it’s critical to your success.
To learn more about protecting your shop and keeping production on track, visit www.CIMx.com.