“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”
ENI Engineering specialise in sheet metal and general fabrication. The factory has 26 distinct stations or processes, and a job can go through any combination of them in pretty much any order. ENI also have 35 staff, who in many cases are able to work on a number of different machines. In addition, some staff specialise in specific products that regularly run through the factory.
There is a night shift that starts at 4pm and runs through to 2am, and depending on demand there could be any combination of machines running at night, or over the weekend.
All this was originally managed by one person, who had to work ridiculous hours to hang it all together.
"I have a job that has to be out next Friday and it has to go through nine processes: can I get it done?". John Down, the owner, was cautious about implementing a system, and so queried colleagues about their experience in capacity planning. Most of them stated that they had tried off-the-shelf systems, but that they either didn't work, or were too hard to operate, so therefore were rarely used. That's when John came to Jolly Good.
ENI's system is called EPIC. Taking over every aspect of the business is rarely a viable option, as it creates too big a risk to the business. As a result, we look at the business with the company and determine what the biggest stress point is; we then work out what needs to happen in order to relieve it. In ENI's case it was capacity planning.
To provide a capacity plan for a job, we needed to know its routing (which processes it was going to need, and how long each would take). ENI had that information in a database already, so we decided to extract the information in real time into EPIC, and go from there. We debated for a while what the correct time base was for the planning, and decided it was a shift: there were three shifts a day, morning, afternoon and night. After two months of using the system, ENI realised that they really only managed the capacities on a daily basis, so EPIC was changed to reflect that.
Soon after going live with the capacity planning, we realised that we needed to see how long a job had spent in each process. We decided that the best method would be to replace the existing time kiosks and record the information in EPIC, and then send it from there to ENI's old system.
There are many different ways to measure success. In the case of EPIC, we knew we had done a good job when Shanon was able to take three weeks off. He hadn't had a holiday for three years, apart from the days when the factory was shut down. He was starting each day at 4am to get the day sheet organised for the team who started work at 7am. The problem of managing production at ENI is very complex, with short bespoke production runs, and an absolute commitment to meet customer delivery expectations. The task required a very high intellect, coupled with a complete grasp of every job and every client situation.
There were now four or five people who could run the factory as needed. ENI have a system that gives an overview of what is happening in the factory, and where the bottlenecks are occurring. They have the information to make the necessary scheduling and prioritising decisions.
The production picture was created by working with Shanon: he articulated what was needed. It was an iterative process, and very personal. Each version provided the wisdom to create a better one. We are currently working with the ENI management team to determine the next step, with the ultimate goal being to manage everything within EPIC.