Precision Machining Manufacturer Yields Speedy Improvements with PFM

Arch Global Precision — a manufacturer of precision cutting tools, precision machined industrial components, and medical implants and instruments — had scars from battling with traditional ERP scheduling.

For the majority of the company’s profitable business units, including the Cutting Tool Division, shop floor production planning and execution was not a strength. At the UltraDex plant, a Make-to-Order and Make-to-Stock facility considered to be on the bleeding edge of ERP implementation in the company at the time, managing production was described as “controlled chaos.”

While the plant was growing, its on-time delivery was slipping. So, when Mike Lilly, Co-President of LillyWorks, attended a leadership team meeting at Arch Global Precision and presented Protected Flow Manufacturing™ (PFM) as a solution to production priority battles, there was a healthy mix of excitement and skepticism.

Getting Buy-in on the Shop Floor

While the decision to implement PFM had support from leadership to the shop foreman, adoption on the shop floor took off once a highly-skilled and respected milling operator pulled back the curtain to dig deeper using PFM.

To his surprise, the operator discovered two external operations that hadn’t been previously accounted for when prioritizing a few specific jobs in the schedule. Consequently, the jobs were being pushed out later in the production schedule based solely on an end due date.

In the early stages of using PFM at the UltraDex plant, production was two to three weeks behind and over 100 jobs in the hole. The turning point arrived when a handful of expedited customer requests put the new production methodology to the test. Instead of panicking and defaulting to the old ways of managing production, the UltraDex operations team doubled down on PFM to ensure the shop floor could continue to build trust in the system.

Today, jobs are no longer pushed out all at once. Instead, the shop floor leverages the visibility gained from PFM to better utilize capacity and make informed decisions about production, including:

  • Improved timing and clearer prioritization between Make-to-Order and Make-to-Stock
  • Opportunities to strategically schedule jobs in a way that allows production to optimize how they batch and group setups to protect promised due dates
  • More easily identifying and addressing production bottlenecks to improve overall production efficiency