Preparing your Production system for the summer holidays

As summer approaches and the Festive Season gets into full swing we need to review our Production system. We have worked hard  to establish our systems this year and we need to be certain these systems are robust enough to survive the Christmas Shut Down.

Often as a TXM consultant, I will return to a company after the Christmas break and enquire how things are going. Visually I see the place looking extra tidy after the last day clean up (which of course isn’t needed with the ongoing focus on housekeeping during the year). But I also see a pile of kanban tags in an unusual location, or too many boxes empty. When I ask about these glaring deviations the answer I often get is “yeah, John was away so we couldn’t order any parts in”. A system failure due to one person begin away is a major problem. Let’s look at what we need to do to check this doesn’t happen you to!

1. Review Customer orders
Firstly we need to have a quick look over the customer orders for December and January. Sometimes we make a huge push to get work completed in December that there isn’t much work in January. Or else so much work is put bak in december that January can easily be as busy as December was.

Look at your previous years and ask around to get a feel for which end of the scale your businesses and industry falls into. then see how we can level load this so we can still meet our customer expectations and maintain our one sanity.

2. Review Production plans during break
If your factory is having a complete shut down or maintenance period then no production will occur,so all systems will stop and can be started again in the New Year. WE need to be very carefully if some areas of Production are going to be working. Identify which areas these are and which supply and customer areas will be effected. How will you handle this uneven production phase? Your Production system is designed to all work together so if one area is working and the others are not your system will only work for a short time until inventory or buffers are used up. These areas will also put an extra load into their customer areas if the usual FIFO rules are not followed.

By reviewing your Christmas work plan before hand you can make decisions about what will be okay and what will need help. You may need Purchasing or Despatch to call in for a day to keep the system under control.

3. Ensure 2IC’s are up to speed
If your Production barely slows down but you still have people taking leave, you need to review the second in charge nominees.

  • Have they assisted the main person doing the task during the year?
  • Do they need  a refresher on holding the morning meeting or conducting the weekly 5S audit?

Do a quick run through with each person and who will be helping out while they are on leave. Making time to do these quick checks before the year finishes will give you the opportunity to check the robustness of your production systems as well as checking everyone’s understanding of the systems needed to be maintained to keep the system running. Reviewing system expectations can help alleviate trouble int he New Year.

Robert Chittenden

Author: Robert Chittenden

Robert Chittenden is a Senior Lean Consultant at TXM Lean Solutions