Val Zanchuck, President of Graphicast, Inc. in Jaffrey, NH, talks about how his Company’s good fortune – receiving a disruptive amount of orders for immediate delivery – lead to difficulties delivering on time, and how Protected Flow Manufacturing™ was able to allow them to not only recover, but to achieve results unheard of in the past.
We Knew Where We Were, But We Weren’t Where We Wanted To Be
Graphicast is a company that has invested heavily in production scheduling methodologies throughout the years, and has used each advancement in manufacturing scheduling to create improvements for themselves. Their early investment in finite scheduling in 1999 gave them a much better handle on the schedule, however one of the downsides according to Val was that:
“A particular part was assigned to a particular machine and to a particular person and if anything disrupted that schedule everything was thrown out of whack. If we ran the scheduler again it would move a part from one machine to another…well, we’re not going to tear something down and move it, so all of a sudden everything was out of control. We were spending a lot of time with the schedule and it wasn’t giving us the best results or what we needed.”
Too Much Good Fortune?
In 2008 Graphicast moved from finite scheduling to a Drum-Buffer-Rope (DBR) style of system based upon the Theory of Contraints (TOC). This new methodology helped bring their lead times from 16 weeks to 8 weeks, cutting them in half. Val and his team were happy with the results and used the system effectively until January of 2017 – when good fortune struck.
Beginning in January and continuing month-over-month Graphicast received a disruptive amount of orders.
“Receiving that amount of orders is great, except they weren’t blanket orders for delivery over the course of the year, they were ‘I’m ordering in January and I want it shipped the end of February’”.
Val and his team tried all the usual remedies to boost capacity – overtime, adding resources, etc… but their good fortune kept coming and they knew they were in big trouble.
We Needed Help – Enter Protected Flow Manufacturing
In March of 2017 is when Val became aware of Protected Flow Manufacturing (PFM). PFM seamlessly integrated with their current ERP system and in just a matter of days they could see the results.
“We knew it was going to take time because we had more orders than we had capacity, so we were going to be shipping late, but we went from four weeks late, to three weeks late, to two weeks late to where we were only going to be a day late, or two days late on this job but on time for that job.”
All Caught Up!
Val and his team could see the progress being made reducing the backlog with PFM every day. Customers weren’t happy with late deliveries, but they were satisfied in knowing that their order would ship on a specific day and that Graphicast was confident they could deliver.
“It was a very painful experience. Not that we didn’t love having the orders, we just didn’t love having them all at once”.