Information & Training. | Lean Manufacturing. Just In Time Processing.
Cycle Time ReductionIn a process, inputs are transformed into outputs via a series of activities and utilizing a range of resources. The cycle time of a process is usually focused on the length of time it takes to progress a product or service from an input to an output stage.
In a cycle time reduction activity, the process is investigated, utilizing fact based analytical techniques to understand the cycle time and to determine if the cycle time can be reduced.
Reducing cycle time can bring a range of benefits. Consider the following:
#1: The process of a plane landing at an airport, passengers leaving and the plane taking off again with a new complement of passengers.
#2: The process associated with an auto-mobile being handed into a garage/service shop for an annual service.
#3: The process associated with developing a new medical device from initial concept through to full clinical trials.
Each of the above are unique and very different processes, however, in all situations clear benefits and competitive advantages can be obtained where the process cycle time can be reduced.
#1: Consider the “plane at the airport”.
A plane is a major financial investment for an airline. Therefore, it is imperative that the plane can make as many flights as possible over its useful life in order to pay back the initial costs. Reducing the length of time between flights, opens up possibilities to add in additional flights each day and therefore increase revenue levels.
#2: “Auto-mobile annual service”
In this situation, the garage/service shop will have limited capacity to service and repair vehicles at any one time. An ability to provide a faster service will increase customer satisfaction which in turn will drive further business.
#3: “Medical device development”
Developing a medical device can be a long and costly business. The product developer will need significant financial resources. Clearly the faster a product can be developed, then the quicker a product can be brought to market, permitting earlier product sales and revenue returns. This faster time to market, may allow companies to develop medical products which they might not otherwise have been able to consider.
In every process there are opportunities for improvement via measuring cycle times, then investigating the process and determining if there are opportunities to reduce the cycle time. When analyzing a process, the reviewer is looking to identify if there are in-efficiencies, duplication of tasks, wait times due to process flow misalignments, alternatively are there opportunities to add value or opportunities to reduce costs, etc..
The first step in analyzing a process is to define and document a process flow. This needs to cover the entire process under study, all inputs and outputs and all interactions and decision points. The larger the process under investigation then the more complex the process flow, therefore, it is often a good idea to break down the process to small sections and review one at a time.
With the process flow clearly defined, the objectives of the process in terms of adding value to the customer needs to be defined. This is a critical step.
What are the customer expectations?
How is the process contributing to delivering these customer expectations?
There may be a range of customer expectations impacting on the process, each needs to be considered.
The process can now be reviewed to identify the value adding and non value adding activities. Are there bottlenecks? Are there capacity constraints? Can the process be re-configured to reduce cycle-times yet continue to meet or improve of customer expectations?
A system for cycle time improvement includes:
Flowchart your process
Measure current cycle time at each step, including any waiting/delays
Compare current to “desired” cycle time
Making improvements involves understanding the current process, having a target or “desired” cycle time, then identifying and developing solutions to achieve targets. Understanding the current process may require performing process bottleneck analysis, cause and effect, run time, process capability analysis, benchmarking,…etc… identifying new ideas may come from a brainstorming exercise, listening to the customer, etc.. solutions may be in the form of developing a kanban process, …etc.
“Lean” & “Just-In-Time”.
The tools and techniques of Lean & JIT:
– Basic working practices
– Total Productive Maintenance
– Design for manufacture
– Set-up reduction, Cycle Time Reduction.
– Operations focus
– Total staff involvement
– Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
– Visual management
– Flow layout
– Just-In-Time Supply
– Pull scheduling & Push systems of control
– Kanban control
– 5S method of control
– Levelled scheduling
– Etc. Etc..