“Just in Time” (JIT) inventory management can provide tremendous cost savings for manufacturers. The concept involves keeping in stock only the number of parts required for current customer demands. In an ideal situation, the truck pulls into the loading dock with replacement components just as the parts bin empties.
However, JIT is not without risks. Delayed shipments can cause stock shortages and bring production lines to a halt, causing late delivery to end users. For this reason, manufacturers have come to rely on Camcraft, which has one of the finest on-time delivery records in the industry. According to Linda McMillan, our Production Manager, the company consistently maintains an on-time delivery rate above 99%.
“We work hard every day to win our customers’ trust and business,” she said. “Having a reputation for on-time delivery is an important aspect of this philosophy.”
How can we achieve such an outstanding delivery record when other companies can’t come close? Here are five best practices that put us ahead of the pack.
1. Management Awareness
We start each day with a production meeting of all the manufacturing and quality managers, engineers and maintenance staff. On-time delivery is always on the agenda. The team looks at the production schedules and shipment windows for the day and carefully makes adjustments in the workflow to ensure components due for shipment make it to the dock by pickup time.
2. Employee Awareness
Meanwhile, our machinists are gathering for an informal meeting we call “the Huddle.” The goal is the same – to look over the job schedule and confirm the process is optimized. They discuss potential constraints, maintenance issues, raw material flow – anything that could keep a product from making it to the dock on time. They advise their supervisors of any “hot” jobs or problems that may need special attention ahead of time.
3. Real-Time Production Tracking
Advanced technology also plays a part in the efficiency of our line. Software from the Mattec Corporation is incorporated into many of our CNC machines (soon to be implemented company-wide) to track when a machine has stopped. Operators then log in a code to identify the reason for the stoppage. These are graphed and analyzed by the operators so they can discover what is causing downtime and develop solutions to prevent it. By aggressively attacking down time, individual machine utilization is continuously improved.
4. Planning on the Unexpected
Another risk to JIT is a sudden surge in demand or another situation that empties a customer’s parts bin ahead of schedule. This happens frequently and generates a “rush” order. Customers depend on us to get them back up and running. Tactics such as shifting lines, adding machines or working overtime allow us to react swiftly.
5. Continuous Improvement
Camcraft employees are constantly looking for ways to upgrade the efficiency of every aspect of the manufacturing process. Our program – known as E2B2 (Everybody, Every day, getting Better and Better) – has increased production speed and resulted in a 12% reduction in unplanned quality errors, quickly freeing each machine for the next job.
Getting it Out the Door
Thanks to the steps outlined above and superior communication between all departments, we are able to maintain our industry-leading on-time delivery rate of over 99.7%. Our record brings new customers to our doors because the competition just can’t deliver (literally). We’re tough on ourselves, because frankly, we are in a league of our own. “We aren’t perfect – yet,” said McMillan. “And we won’t be satisfied until our customers can count on us 100%.