If you work in manufacturing, I know you have been inundated with cute titles for quality and productivity improvement programs for decades:

  • Zero defects (that one made a few guys in Winter Haven wealthy)
  • TQM (does anyone use that term any more?)
  • 6σ (we are fascinated by Greek letters and martial arts belts)
  • 5 Whys (hey, why not?)
  • 5S (in both English and Japanese, no less!)
  • Lean (perhaps picking up on our anti-obesity predilection?)

And many, many more. You get the idea.

Over the last three or four decades I’ve watched all of the above with some detachment and great amusement.  Much of what’s included in these programs is the same; the titles are simply new wrappings around old ideas.  But the old ideas still make sense.  Process improvement.  Scrap reduction. Clean workplaces.  Reduced setup times.  Straight-line manufacturing.  The list goes on.  My challenge to you is this: Find something in any of the above programs that didn’t originate in basic manufacturing/industrial management concepts…concepts that go all the way back to the Industrial Revolution and Frederick Taylor.  I’d be interested in hearing your comments.

The above notwithstanding, I’d like to weigh in with a program of my own.  I’ve thought about this a lot. It’s got to be simple.  It needs a Greek letter to lend an air of the esoteric and perhaps make it sound needlessly scientific (although I promise you, it won’t be either).  It needs to offer a catchy way to package Mr. Taylor’s key concepts.  It needs to be marketable.  And it needs to be focused on improving manufacturing, quality, and profitability.

Here we go:  7 Pi.

Yep. I originally started out with 6P, but then I realized I was leaving out an important P, and P didn’t sound as cool as Pi, or ππ, as you know, is the Greek letter for P.

About now, as you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering what this is all about.  The focus here is delivery performance improvement, or getting and staying on schedule as a manufacturer.  If you’ve ever run a plant that was behind schedule, you know how tough life can be.  And if your plant is on schedule, you know that quality and profitability are going to be okay (trust me on this, I’ve seen it happen in the plants I’ve run and in the ones I’ve advised).  Staying on schedule is critical.  If you can do that, everything else falls into place.  And if you do everything you need to do to be on schedule, everything is in place.

So, here we go…the 7 Pi’s for delivery performance improvement:

  • People
  • Product
  • Process
  • Procurement
  • Productivity
  • Production Control
  • caPacity

I know, I fudged it a little on that last one, but that’s the only bit of artistic license I’ll take here.  Watch the ManufacturingTraining blog, folks, because we’re going to explore each of our 7π’s in the coming weeks!

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