whether it is efficient or productive
should be done from the internal customer’s perspective. Can the customer
consume the output being created by
the efficient process?
If the CNC machine continues to
generate output with no regard to the
status of work-in-process at the internal
customer, it is not operating productively. The process is creating waste. It
is consuming raw materials unnecessarily, which may trigger the purchasing process to kick in prematurely. It is
consuming valuable floor space, and
possibly making it difficult for people
and other materials to flow freely. It
is adding to the chaos and confusion
by making it necessary to search for
the next items to produce. The added
work-in-process causes the customer’s
process to have to be positioned
farther away from the supplier, which
adds to the Waste of Transportation
and the Waste of Motion.
I belabor the point because it is a
real situation that occurs daily within
the walls of your shop. I know because
I was recently challenged in that thinking by the team leader of the finish
department at one of my customers.
Comparing a labor-intensive finishing
process to an efficient CNC process
may not seem a likely comparison,
but it is. The team leader was batch-ing work so his team would process all
parts requiring the same materials at
the same time. You might do the same
The team leader had another mo-
tivation that is probably prevalent in
your shop as well. He wanted to keep
his people busy. How many times have
you heard that or have promoted it
yourself? An idle person is an unpro-
ductive person - right? Wrong.
The team leader claimed the batch-
ing process was more efficient because
the staff didn’t have to make so many
changeovers and all the parts could be
nested to promote efficiency in apply-
ing materials. He was clearly focused
on efficiency rather than on what his
internal customer’s needs were. His
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