Takahashi's Scheduler Case Book: Chapter 4
The Case of the Plastic Molding Factory
Production scheduling for a plastic molding factory...providing production scheduling for molds and dies.
I visited a plant for forming plastic. They needed management of the mold forming and their production schedule is complex. Not only that, but recently they have had to assembly of plastic product after it has been formed and that makes the production schedule even more complicated. They wanted to solve these problems. Another problem for them was that one of their customers, a car maker had announced that it was going to cut its number of suppliers in half and they also had this reason for needing to show the results of their making improvements. If those efforts failed, the carmaker would no longer do business with them.
When I was giving the demonstration, the president of D Company said, "That's enough. We've already decided to go for a production scheduler. Mr. E is in charge so recommend it to him." The points on which they had decided to install a production scheduler 1) the production schedules for the plastic molding machines and the too and die machine were done simultaneously, and 2) the production schedule for the assembly routine was also set up at the same time. In addition, they gave good grades to a production scheduler that could be set up immediately without any customization. I told them that we should first test a prototype to make sure that it would run well, so together with Manager E we built a prototype. This manager later started up his own production scheduler. This manager is very highly skilled. He started the production scheduler up successfully in a very short period of time. His was an approach getting the production scheduler started up without hitches and within the range of standard scheduler function, but the important point is how quickly it took him to succeed in starting the production scheduler.
I again visited the plant after the scheduler was in operation. The production scheduler was moving along very well. When I was ready to leave the section manager offered me a ride to the station in his car. On the way, he said to me, "Mr. Takahashi, thanks to your scheduler, we were able to survive that cut back in parts suppliers that the car maker implemented. And rather than losing orders, our number of orders is on the increase. Thank you for that. However, this busy period is a good one. Even if we leave things as they are, we're making money. But, what's going to happen when the demand falls off? If demand does drop off, the workers at the plant will make it look as if they're busy. I can understand that logically no matter how busy we are. When times are slack it would be better for the company to slow down and not produce a lot of excess."
The president is a wonderful person who makes good decisions quickly, but this section manager had the managerial perspectives for keenly seeing into the future. That is a company that will survive very well.
Case Closed. . .