Q&A with Saturn Industries’ Rory Lee (Part One of Three)

We recently spoke with Rory Lee, Vice President of Operations and Business Develop Manager with Saturn Industries, Inc. Rory, who has been with Saturn since 1997, talked about his company’s experiences before and after implementing Protected Flow Manufacturing™ (PFM) by LillyWorks.

Q: Can you tell us about production scheduling at Saturn Industries prior to implementing Protected Flow Manufacturing™ (PFM)?

Prior to Protected Flow Manufacturing, we were manually scheduling incoming jobs. We were using the First In First Out (FIFO) method. We’d have meetings to discuss back orders, orders that were behind schedule, and orders that were late. We’d run one report after another but we’d never seem to improve our on-time delivery.

Q: Were customers calling to ask about the status of their orders?

Yes, we were always chasing orders, chasing phone calls. As customers were calling and looking for their late orders, we were constantly shuffling the work around to put the fires out. Because we were constantly doing that, it was difficult for us to put a system in place to get us out of the hole we were in.

Q: What made you think that better scheduling was the answer versus adding more people or equipment?

Through the years, we tried that. When we had certain departments where the on-time delivery was really struggling, we’d add more people – but it didn’t matter if we added two or three people or if we added another machine. There was minimal improvement ultimately because the First In First Out method just didn’t work.

We were hearing it from our customers. Part of being ISO certified company is continual improvement and on time delivery. Part of that is measured by annual surveys with our customers. The surveys said, ‘We like you, we like your pricing but your delivery is terrible’. Finally, we said we have to find a solution.

Q: What was your first impression of Protected Flow Manufacturing™ as a prospective solution to your scheduling challenges?

When the folks from LillyWorks gave us the introduction about PFM and how it works, we were skeptical. Our ERP has a scheduling module built in. We have been able to use all of the other functions of our ERP system but the scheduling function didn’t meet our needs.

LillyWorks did a demo last year, in 2017. They showed how simple PFM was and how it didn’t necessarily take a person to run it. You just have to follow it!

Q: When did you implement Protected Flow Manufacturing™?

We started using PFM in October, 2017. I’ve been asked a few times, how long did it take to get up and running?We were able to start using PFM immediately with minimal training because it is an automated system.

We enter orders into our system. We update the system multiple times throughout the day. PFM puts the orders into an organized list in the order that we should be running to meet our commitment dates to our customers.

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series, you can read Part 2 here: Protected Flow Manufacturing (PFM) Benefits Saturn Industries

About Saturn Industries

Saturn Industries has been the leader in the design and fabrication of EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining) electrodes and tooling since 1959. Saturn offers its customers a full range of the finest Isomolded and Extruded graphite products. Saturn is dedicated to the aerospace, automotive, glass, medical, molding and power generation industries. In addition to its manufacturing capabilities, Saturn also offers an extensive range of industrial tooling, accessories, and consulting services.

About Protected Flow Manufacturing™ (PFM)

Protected Flow Manufacturing™ (PFM) is a revolutionary new Manufacturing Execution and Planning System. Aimed specifically at the crucial area of “production execution”, Protected Flow Manufacturing™ continually directs production priorities to minimize wait time and maximize on-time delivery using data fed from a customer’s existing ERP system that customers can act on. Learn more at www.protectedflowmanufacturing.com.

If you’re frustrated by having to tell customers you’re going to be late, watch this 7 min video: How this production scheduling approach is bringing manufacturing back