Taking Innovative Casting Technology To Your Bottom Line
Call Us: 603-532-4481

Posts Tagged Shop floor scheduling

Explaining Theory of Constraints at the Pancake Griddle

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

I’ve been a strong proponent of Theory of Constraints as one of the best philosophies for running manufacturing operations. TOC gives you a perspective that helps you focus on constraints to flow in your operation and provides methods on how to deal with them to improve flow.  This focus on “throughput” rather than “costs” is transformative and requires a different thinking process than used in the cost driven world. I had a good lesson in constraint identification and throughput improvement while making pancakes yesterday.

Imagine, as you will, that I have a market for my product. The demand is time dependent (my market is hungry and wants to eat – NOW) and satisfaction limited (they will eventually get their fill, and the demand will subside). Getting product to the market to fulfill this demand cycle is critical to my business. I have plenty of raw material (my pancake batter), but a constrained production resource, my cast iron griddle. My griddle is fixed in size, and the energy input to the griddle is limited by batter chemistry and the batter load (the more batter on the griddle, the more energy required to produce a pancake, but too high an energy input, and the pancakes burn). If I had a lot of WIP (several pancakes on the griddle), I found that the production time increased (due to the higher energy requirements and temperature variation on the griddle), the quality went down (undercooked or overcooked sections on a pancake), and I couldn’t supply my demand on time. When I reduced WIP to one pancake at a time, my pancake production velocity or “throughput”  went up, quality improved, and I met the demand.  Making one pancake at a time was actually faster than trying to make a bigger batch of pancakes at once (the lower unit cost mindset).

In the factory, we know that smaller batches and lower WIP  increase production velocity. Higher velocity means higher sales revenue and higher throughput. All the lessons of the factory floor revealed while making a Sunday morning breakfast!

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Graphicast, But Were Afraid to Ask

With no apologies to Woody Allen for the title, we do get a lot of questions about how our process works. And not just our casting process, but the whole process, from beginning to end. How do we design and  make the molds, how do we program the CNC machines, how does the CMM work, etc. We’ve tried to answer these questions with a virtual Graphicast plant tour, highlighting the process we follow in developing a new part for you. All of this is in a  4 1/2 minute video on the Graphicast channel on You Tube. You can see all your favorite Graphicast characters (and they are characters), including a cameo role by your blogger as a CNC machinist. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the video should be worth millions.  I hope you find it helpful to your understanding of Graphicast, and how we work with you to make your parts.

Graphicast Featured in Automation World

Graphicast’s lean manufacturing journey is highlighted in this article from the July 2009 edition of “Automation World“.

Val Zanchuk at 2nd annual VISUAL User Education Conference

One of the highlights of this year’s second annual VISUAL User Education Conference was hearing our own Val Zanchuk talk about how Graphicast has thrived in such a difficult economy. Val shared his application of new business process and technology strategies. If you missed the event, Synergy Resources, has posted a summary of the event, along with video highlights from the presentations.

Watch Val’s Presentation here.

From the CEO

Val ZanchukNext week, October 26 – 28, I’ll be at Synergy Resources’ User Conference in Providence to talk about our success with the shop floor scheduling system we use. For those who have read “The Goal“, Eli Goldratt’s business novel about a factory that increases throughput and cuts inventory, you would recognize our schedule. The whole system is based on Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints. Consistent with lean principles, Theory of Constraints looks to continually identify areas of your operation that “constrain” your output , so you can focus efforts on relieving that constraint to free up capacity. Our constraint was procedural, as opposed to a piece of equipment slowing us down. Once we applied the new scheduling concept, our lead times dropped by 75%, freeing up a lot of capacity for growth and making us much more responsive to your needs. We’re already seeing a lot of rush orders, and are ready for the recovery. We hope to see you with us as we move back into the light of economic growth.

Taking Innovative Casting Technology to Your Bottom Line™

Graphicast Inc.

PO Box 430 36 Knight Street,
Jaffrey, NH 03452
phone: 603-532-4481
fax: 603-532-4261