“The Goal” by Goldratt is a book about the Theory of Constraints, TOC. It is about the behavior of manufacturing facilities. It deals with bottlenecks that are the manufacturing constraints and the variability that creates them. The book states that a manufacturing organization cannot run at 100% and that you cannot balance the assembly line. It seems that your efforts for efficiency must be focused on the worst bottleneck. The loss caused by a bottleneck is a loss for the entire system. Focusing on improving the throughput of the bottleneck increases the flow for the entire manufacturing line. If there is a bottleneck, then all other areas are capable of excess capacity. Don’t try to improve non-bottlenecks, as it is a waste of time and effort. The TOC integrates into Total Quality Management, TQM, except for one main theory. TQM supports continuous improvement of the system while the TOC does not support continuous improvement of every process. The TOC says that we must focus on the constraint.
Q: What is the Theory of Constraints about?
A: Developed by Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt, TOC states that any system has at least one constraint. Otherwise, it would be generating an infinite amount of output. Bearing this in mind, TOC is easily explained through use of the "chain" analogy - "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link." If we look upon our organization as a chain, where each department is a "link" in the chain, what constrains our organization from achieving its goal? Only through addressing the weakest link, the constraint, can substantial improvements be made. In other words, if the constraint dictates the pace of an organization's ability to achieve it's goal, it makes sense that addressing the constraint will allow the organization to achieve a substantial rate of throughput faster.
There are five steps in applying TOC:
1. Identify the system's constraints. Of necessity this included prioritization so that just the ones that really limit system progress toward the goal.
2. Decide how to exploit the system's constraints. Once we have decided how to manage the constraints within the system, how about the majority of the resources that are not constraints? The answer is that we manage them so that they just provide what is needed to match the output of the constrained resources. We NEVER let them supply mo...
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...achine was running and an operator on your line was to set it up if it went down, you could take your break at your convenience. A few months went by and new coaches were hired. They decided they wanted to closely monitor the operator to see when they took their breaks and for how long. The decision was made to stop the machines when you go on your break and/or lunch. The new coach obviously wanted to make a good impression and bring something new to the table. They changed our staggered breaks to scheduled breaks. The results after a few weeks showed production was down and efficiency was at a record low. It showed machines were not running at full capacity for a tour. Immediately their superiors decided we would go back to the staggered lunches and breaks. The downtime was then reduced and our departmental efficiency went up. They realized it was not as important to monitor the person, as it was to have the machine running. Now I know this does not stand up to the problems Alex and his staff faced with UniCo but this is what I face everyday. I found a case study that was used at the TOC World 2000 Seminar in St. Paul MN last year. I thought I would include it for your enjoyment
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