Takahashi's Scheduler Case Book: Chapter 5
The Case of the Flexible Manufacturing System
Production scheduling for job shop type production [flexible manufacturing system, FMS] (small volumes of widely divergent product types)...Freeing oneself from the mundane nature of production schedules
I visited a factory that produces many different kinds of reagents.
At the plant, I talked to the person who is in charge of the production schedule and it was she who gave me an explanation of the kind of production scheduling they were doing right then. She said that at first the enormous flow of many different product types in small lots seemed like an seriously extreme task. We had a person doing the production scheduling manually, with extraordinary skill, and she was making those schedules every day based on intuition and perception gained through experience. This person may well have been one of the most experienced and skilled people in the company. If this person had to take time off because of illness, the people in the factory would have to go to her house and ask what the production schedule for that day should be and only then could the factory start operating. It sounds like a joke but that is exactly what was happening. It makes me shiver to think what would have happened if the production scheduler had to be in the hospital for a long time. Not only that, but in one or two years, the human production scheduler was set to retire. They had tried teaching a younger employee the job, but to no avail. The plant was in a really tough spot. It would have been very difficult to recruit someone who had the capabilities to do this job. That's when they came to the idea of trying out a computerized production scheduler.
In a situation like this we have the important task of removing the human variable by sharing data through the use of IT. Now the highly skilled production schedulers who had supported manufacturing during Japan's period of high economic growth are retiring one after another. I'm sure that many companies are in the same situation as this one.
Case Closed. . .
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