Original Date: 09/15/2003
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Production Planning
Traditionally done departmentally, United Defense, L.P. Ground Systems Division Aiken implemented Production Planning as a team approach that ties plant loads and capabilities into a central system where each area projects 50% into the future, goes paperless, and integrates shop area leaders into higher management and analyst decisions. Numerous calculations are automatically generated, thus reducing error, and charts are instantly updated with more useful graphics that accurately depict daily, monthly, and yearly projections.
To supply United Defense, L.P. Ground Systems Division (UDLP GSD) Aiken’s management with up-to-date load and capacity information based on current and future customer requirements, a software-based Access Production Plan System was introduced. In addition to infrastructure savings, the database allows central information access, facilitating team organizational structure, lean processes, continuous improvement strategy, statistical data requiring robust analysis, and presentation capabilities to ensure positive business and staffing decisions.
UDLP GSD Aiken’s original process relied on monthly, manually-generated business charts. Issues and actions were manually calculated daily based on load, people, and days per month. The presentations consisted of overhead transparencies and paper reports in various formats local to each business center. Many extrapolations and projections were not created due to time and calculation constraints. Production and load information was only available for 12 months and limited the accessibility of information during a given month. Area and team members were not included in the process and could not contribute to goal-oriented planning or reorganization. Information concerning excess capacity was not communicated from one center to the next, and was therefore poorly utilized.
Under the current central database system, production load information is electronically imported and projected out 18 months. All current load data and manufacturing capabilities are programmed into the system to identify the part and contract information. The Production Plan System reviews the total load requirements based on capability (generated by a run standard hours system), and calculates the number of people and output hours required to meet the monthly load specification. Area Managers review and confirm the data and make minor adjustments for absenteeism and other work area specifics. The system recalculates the expected output hours required per day, and updates the charts and tallies projected backlogs. By fine-tuning backlogs, Area Managers plan to exceed projected output and receive Performance Sharing Plan Awards. Additionally, area data can be accessed so that personnel can be moved to where they are most needed. This strengthens team results by placing the team members most responsible for those results close to the process.
Each month, the Area Managers, Area Business Managers, and Materials personnel meet before the Production Plan Meeting with UDLP GSD Aiken’s Leadership Team. This closes the circle from production floor to upper management. Having accurate data and 18-month projections of backlogs allow top-level production restructuring to meet future contract impacts before the on-set of the backlog. Using the load versus output chart, backlog hot spots can be shown and researched to determine root causes or bottlenecks. Moving less time critical orders, modernizing or purchasing capital equipment, or adjusting schedules are supported in simulation runs with the Access Production Plan System. In addition, the production plan can be quickly adjusted to accommodate emergency requests, thereby enhancing customer support.
In pursuing ISO certification, investigators were pleased to see production line comments drawn from production metrics highlighting risk areas. By tracking mitigation efforts, ISO representatives tracked historical quality changes that were supported with real data. UDLP GSD Aiken realized a 25% reduction in direct labor staffing and a 60% reduction in support infrastructure.
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