Operational Design

Operational Design

How a plant or process is operated has a big impact on throughput, inventory and lead times. By considering the operational design or philosophy (such as campaign or batch sizes, production planning philosophy, changeover times, frequency of deliveries, single piece flow) there may be significant opportunities to:

  • Reduce lead times
  • Increase capacity
  • Cut inventory
  • Increase On Time In Full deliveries

Operational Design is the natural evolution of many aspects of Lean tools and techniques. Simply doing what you have always done but with waste taken out, visual management techniques implemented, changeover times reduced and workplace organisation rolled out will deliver improvements. But, there will no be so many more benefits available to be claimed by looking at the Operational Design too.

By way of examples:

  1. With changeover reductions implemented shorter campaigns and production runs become viable and economic. This means that the time till the factory produces a particular product is reduced, which means less inventory is required to tide deliveries over till the stocks can be replenished. Therefore the production planning will need to be changed in order for the full benefits to be realised, and may perhaps even include the implementation of Pull and/ or Kanban techniques.
  2. By increasing the frequency of raw material deliveries less inventory is required to be held. This is likely to have cost implications on say weekend working, but against this are benefits of reduced inventory holding. And with less inventory less facilities are required to store it. If your site is a chemical plant, a reduced tank farm (especially if you are at the design stage of a project) can be a multi-million pound benefit.

Some aspects of Operational Design require enablers for them to happen.

For example, operationally you may like to implement Single Piece Flow with the benefits that delivers in improved lead times and reduced work in progress. However, moving to Single Piece Flow without first addressing Changeover Reduction to reduce economic batch sizes and the Plant Layout to reduce the transport distances (that would otherwise massively increase as items are moved in smaller lots) would result in disaster. So first or in parallel other projects are required. This sort of work is more applicable to "widget" manufacturing and industries with similar characteristics, which include testing laboratories, the food industry, paint, plastics, downstream pharma, and more.

If you are interested in making the operation of your facility more effective, efficient and lean, enquire about Operational Design.