Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pull. Please.

We ran out of a production supply yesterday.  It surprised all of us. 
To my delight, the key folks involved immedately went through a simple 5-Why exercise.  They discovered root cause, which turned out to be a good thing, related to some positive developments elsewhere in the company which required more of the stuff we ran out of. 
But how to avoid having this happen?  Clearly, the countermeasure in this case could not be "Hey guys, be less succesful over there". 
Digging a little deeper, they discovered we were purchasing this supply on a schedule, not on demand.  Put another way, we were "pushing" the procurement, based on the day of the week.
How'd that happen?  We understand pull, making a replenishment only when needed.  Why didn't we do it in this case?
Was it simply forgetfulness?  Or perhaps the convenience of plopping down an order reminder as a recurring task in a calendar?
I don't know. 
But the mistake sure helped us assess the error.  And I hope our error might help you assess if you have "push" somewhere you need "pull".  None of us ever fully arrive.
Keep learning.


wms said...

I think 5 why including other brainstorming tool are useful for lean approach. Anyway, it always depends on people. If people have enough knowledge and skills, they will start thinking and they will eventually find root causes of problem.

www.pcwebsite.net said...

Quite useful piece of writing, thanks for this post.

David Bueford said...

I found a reliable method to tell if supplier is really on pull. The suppliers that continually require a short term forecast usually are not on a kanban system. This was discovered using the 5 why method the results were remarkably accurate.