As one of the largest producers of jet engines, GE’s production and manufacturing plants are the sizes of several football fields located in many buildings. There’s ample opportunity to lose track of material or products within a physical location of a shop and as crazy as it sounds, it happens more times than we want it to. There are numerous examples where products weren’t physically missing however their location became unknown and additional effort was required to account for their them.
In various shops, we hear of situations where parts have waited years in inventory before coming out because no one could track inventory aging.
People were employed to do nothing but run around and catalog the location of parts and equipment within the production process so that calculations can be done as to when orders will be delivered. Many times, the production plant supervisors can't even predict when a new unit is available for shipment until the day of actual departure from the plant.
Still, another aspect is the loading dock of an MRO or depot-level maintenance shop. Too often they don’t know what's going to show up for them to work on, but they know it's going to be important, and leadership will want to quickly get it through the shop.
One thing you can do to make your manufacturing brilliant in 2017 is get a handle on your WIP. GE created and uses a module called Work in Process Manager, or WIP Manager for short. This was specifically built for heavy industrial plants by heavy industrial plants at GE. Now supervisors immediately know where any parts or components are in the plant.
They can also now predict based on the number of steps remaining and the routes that products must take in the plant when a work order will clear production. The solution also allows them to balance their workload and make sure that stalled orders get the attention they deserve, and customers continue to be happy with the performance they're getting from us.
Make 2017 the year you WIP your manufacturing into shape.
Miss the beginning of this series? Read 12 Manufacturing Tips for a Brilliant 2017. Tip 1: Manufacturing Physics