What Are The Benefits Of Capacity Planning?

What Are The Benefits Of Capacity Planning?


Although this word may seem to be part of a foreign language (it is, in fact, Japanese), readers of the Flux Connectivity Blog may recall seeing it in our post about level loading in early March. The word, which translates to “leveling”, is a concept used in the manufacturing industry to refer to waste reduction. What we generally call “level loading” involves avoiding unnecessary costs, preventing excess physical inventory and not overbooking employees.

The concept of capacity planning takes on a similar objective. The term refers to the process of determining exactly how much resource is needed in order to meet demand. More specifically, capacity planning is the act of working out how many people are necessary to complete a task or project. Do you have enough staff to meet your demand? Or do you require more people on the job? There a number of benefits to capacity planning.

It helps you to reduce resource costs.

What is the most cost-efficient way to meet your company’s upcoming resource needs? Capacity planning will help you to answer that question. Can your new assignment be completed by one experienced worker or is assembling an entire team absolutely necessary?

With capacity planning, you can better manage your budget. It will help you to determine if it’s worth holding off on a project in order to hire a less experienced but completely reliable worker or begin immediately on a project with a more expensive resource who will get the job done before the deadline.

It helps you to manage your skills inventory.

Your skills inventory refers to the various talents that make up your team. As the company’s owner, you know who possesses which skills and which team members are your most valuable assets on each project.

Capacity planning involves quickly finding the right fit for the task at hand. Your skills inventory is always being updated as your team members continue to gain experience and develop new skills. That way, you can continually revise your determinations about who is needed in order deliver your company’s best results.

It helps you to identify skill shortages.

Just as capacity planning enables you to determine the different skill sets, it can also help you to uncover the opportunities for improvement on your team. At the onset of a new project, capacity planning will help you to realize whether or not you are missing the skills needed to complete the project effectively.

With this information, you can make changes. For example, you can revise the project so that it can be completed by your current team using the skills they already have or you can recruit new talent on a temporary basis in order to assist your team. Of course, you may also choose to train your existing team in order to update them with the new skills necessary to carry out the project’s completion.

It helps you to locate new resources.

Branching off of that last benefit, capacity planning is a great way to help you find new people and allocate work to them based on their specific sets of skills. When you have the right people performing the right jobs, you improve your company’s overall success and its ability to master the completion of projects with high-quality results.

For more information about capacity planning, please don’t hesitate to call Flux Connectivity at 1-800-557-FLUX or email us at connect@fluxconnectivity.com.

What Is Level Loading In Manufacturing?

What Is Level Loading In Manufacturing?

In last week’s blog, we introduced to you the concept of the 5S standards and highlighted their Japanese origins. The week before that, we explained the importance of JIT (just-in-time) management and also pointed out its conception in Japan. You may have noticed a bit of a theme here. The Japanese approach to manufacturing places heavy emphasis on waste reduction and efficiency. In this week’s blog, the theme continues.

What Is Heijunka?

Heijunka is a Japanese word meaning “leveling”. It is a concept practiced in the manufacturing industry to help businesses meet their demands while reducing waste during production. It is a Lean manufacturing concept that enables production to efficiently meet customer demands while avoiding unnecessary costs, an overage of manpower and excessive production time.

On iSixSigma.com, Jamie R. Friddle offers an example for clarification: “Say a hat producer receives orders for 500 of the same hat per week: 200 orders on Monday, 100 on Tuesday, 50 on Wednesday, 100 on Thursday, and 50 on Friday. Instead of trying to meet demand in sequence of the orders, the hat producer would use heijunka to level demand by producing an inventory of 100 hats near shipping to fulfill Monday’s orders. Every Monday, 100 hats will be in inventory. The rest of the week, production will make a 100 hats per day – a level amount.”

In North America, heijunka is more commonly referred to as level loading. “Level Loading, also referred to as production leveling, refers to the balanced throughput rates of activities within a process,” explains Quality America., “Balancing a process reduces the non-value added portion of the process cycle time, and removes the waste of items in queue. Level load balancing to reduce waste is a key strategy in Lean thinking.”

What are the benefits of level loading?

By significantly reducing waste and the excess of physical inventories that can result from an absence of level loading, a company can improve its cash flow and lower its costs. Consider the fact that when work goes uncompleted, it can produce no revenue for the manufacturer. Excess inventory can hide the fact that there were issues such as equipment failure or uneven production levels on the floor.

Such inventory exists as “Work in Progress”, explains Quality America. It prevents new orders from being processed until the Work in Progress is completed. Level loading also ensures that a company is able to meet customer demands through either the current inventory or the current production schedule. As well, it ensures that requested delivery dates are met and that appropriate quantities are fulfilled.

What happens in the absence of level loading?

When manufacturers create an abundance of product, much of it is placed on shelves waiting to be ordered by customers. As Demand Solutions clarifies, when the production numbers don’t equate to the average number of orders, it changes the level of service provided to customers.

“In a make-to-stock environment, level of service is sometimes calculated as the percentage of orders picked complete from stock upon receipt of the customer order, the percentage of line items picked complete, or the percentage of total dollar demand picked complete,” they explain on their website, “In make-to-order and -design-to-order environments, level of service is the percentage of times the customer-requested or acknowledged date was met by shipping complete product quantities.”

For more information about how the Flux Connectivity uses level loading during manufacturing, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-557-FLUX or email us at connect@fluxconnectivity.com.

What Are The 5S Standards?

What Are The 5S Standards?

By today’s standards, the iPhone 5S is practically an obsolete piece of hardware, considering the widespread use of iPhone X models. But let us be clear that Apple’s massively popular and constantly updating smartphone brand has nothing to do with the 5S that we’re talking about. In the world of manufacturing, 5S describes the various steps taken within a workplace’s organization process.

What does 5S stand for?

5S represents the five Japanese words seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke. Thankfully, they can easily be translated into the five English words sort, set, shine, standardize and sustain. Some companies consider safety to be the additional “S” in what would otherwise be known as 6S. This is not to be confused with Six Sigma, which we discussed in our blog on Lean manufacturing.

Seiri (Sort)

This step of the process calls upon workers to separate necessary items from unnecessary components, removing all unused items from the working area. They may include broken equipment, redundant equipment, outdated equipment and obsolete files on a computer. Employees are generally asked to label all unnecessary items with red tags so that they are removed accordingly. Difficult-to-classify items are often placed in a holding area for further review.

Seiton (Straighten)

This is the practice of storing items in neat and tidy fashions in order to create a more efficient production line. By making everything easy to access and eliminating waste, it saves a lot of time and energy. For this step, workers are expected to identify places for all materials to be stored, assign a fixed quantity for each item, make storage space compact and make the retrieval of items safe and easy. This entails placing heavy objects at lower levels to make them easy to pick up.

Seiso (Shine)

As you may have guessed, this step has to do with keeping things clean. It insists upon making cleanliness a regular facet within the workplace. Creating a workspace that is free of debris, dirt, and dust is of paramount importance to a productive working environment. This step helps workers to quickly identify root causes of dirtiness (eg. leaks and spills). It also ensures that all necessary tools and equipment are kept clean and in good working condition.

Seiketsu (Standardize)

This step involves the setting up of standards that promote a neat and tidy workplace. Essentially, it establishes the procedures that ensure the first three “S” practices are maintained. To implement this step, all employees must be clearly informed of their responsibilities to cleaning, sorting and organizing. As well, management must be made aware of any abnormalities through photos and/or video. All members of the team must be clear on the differences between normal and abnormal conditions.

Shitsuke (Sustain)

This is often considered the most difficult step to implement. It calls upon all workers to establish behaviours that promote workplace organization over the long haul. It requires commitment from team leaders and participation from all team members to develop and practice good habits every day. This step often includes regular audits and reviews in order to locate and address the root causes of any issues.

For more information about the 5S standards and how the Flux Connectivity team practices them, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-557-FLUX or email us at connect@fluxconnectivity.com.