Integral Logistics Management — Operations Management and Supply Chain Management Within and Across Companies

6.2.4b Line Balancing — Changing Lead Time of Operations

Intended learning outcomes: Produce an overview on measures for changing lead time of operations.

Continuation from previous subsection (6.2.4)

Such harmonization of the content of work within a production structure level and through­out all levels of production results in a rhythmic flow of goods. Batch size reduction alone cannot achieve this. Workstations and the content of the individual operations must be newly defined. This is a very difficult task that can only be surmounted when product engineering cooperates with development and design. New technologies may be used for certain operations in order to change lead time at the very location where harmoni­zation is required.

To complete the task, product engineering in cooperation with design must repeat the following two steps until sufficient results are achieved:

1. Determine the duration of one unit of harmonized content of work, that is, the operation time of the harmonized content of work inclu­ding necessary inter­operation times before and after the (internal or external) operation. To start, experienced personnel in product engineering determine this time unit empirically. For further itera­tions, the new time unit will result from correction of a previously unsatisfactory result. The shorter the harmonized con­tent of work is, the more flexibly processes can be put together.

2. Perform measures to change lead times of operations, chosen from the various possible measures in Figure

*Combine operations through automation, thus reducing total lead time of the corresponding previous operations. Or, analogously, operation splitting, thus reducing the operation time.
*Change the process by changing the production technique (sticking instead of screwing, a different surface hardening technique, etc.).
*Reduce setup times in order to reduce batch sizes. If capacity is not being utilized, batch size can also be reduced directly. The advantage of harmonizing, however, must supersede the resulting increase in setup costs.
*Purchase different components that allow for a different process, where, in a targeted way, operations will be longer or shorter. The components will be either more or less expensive.
*Purchase semifinished goods in order to avoid operations that do not allow harmonization. Possibly the supplier can perform such an operation better within its own order and production infrastructure.
*Assign operations to subcontractors or take over operations from subcontractors, if this results in a better unit of harmonized content of work. Change subcontracting concepts and subcontract to subcontractors that are better suited with regard to better lead time.

Fig.        Measures for changing lead time of operations.

Because of measures connected with suppliers, harmonizing work contents leads to closer cooperation with other companies. Because control must no longer observe priority rules, the advantage resulting from all these measures to harmonize the content of work is very simple management of queues. Such detailed and comprehensive measures to harmonize the content of work are comparable to the design of a railway timetable of departures at regular intervals: Investiture in new lines takes place as a function of postulated rhythms in the regular interval departure plan. As a result, processes in the railway net can be automated, and there is maximum throughput through the net.

The strategic considerations underlying these measures are long term in nature and can be put into practice only if a company’s financial policies are in agreement with them. Investiture in capital assets will not accord well with savings. Whenever possible reduction of delivery lead time is projected, the response of the customer to the improvement becomes the important factor. Estimating possible effects of this kind is a matter for decision making at the company level. It is for this reason that traditional profitability calculations generally fail here. However, the calculations are often not necessary at all. A company attempting to stay in competition will be forced to make the investment.

Quiz Harmonizing the content of work - not yet available

[kml_flashembed movie="" height="75%" width="100%" /]

Course section 6.2: Subsections and their intended learning outcomes