REPETITIVE PULL SYSTEMS

INTRODUCTION

Implementation of lean production allows many companies to shift from producing goods to a forecast to production based on actual customer requirements; in the mature lean environment, "production equals sales". Reductions in work-in-process inventories and lead times permit the application of simplified visible inventory signals to schedule your manufacturing resources.

On a tactical level, pull systems seek to provide the information necessary to control and to accelerate the flow of materials throughout the supply chain. Changing the scheduling of the supply chain from a forecast-based, infinite reverse push system to a consumption-based pull system will result in significant and permanent reductions in inventories with simultaneous increases in customer service.

What are the prerequisites to pull systems? Certainly not the implementation of techniques such as kaizen, setup reduction or cellular manufacturing, or the advance buildup of inventory buffers. In fact, pull systems should be the first step toward filling the buffers and providing the springboard for focusing these other techniques. The only real prerequisite is an internal champion with the leadership and the will to drive the implementation.

So, the basic objectives of pull systems are to:


METHODOLOGY

Synchronous Management has developed a step-by-step approach to repetitive pull system implementation, based on years of experience in materials management, and the successful design and implementation of hundreds of pull systems. If any of the steps are omitted, less than optimal results will be guaranteed. If the steps are followed in sequence, significant and permanent financial benefits will result. The steps are:

These steps are not a "cookbook", but a set of guidelines to help you to assess the scope of implementation and the potential for the application of a successful system in your company.


CONCLUSION

A quantitative approach does exist for implementing pull systems in any repetitive environment. The inventory buffers required to protect and improve material flow and to schedule your operation can be rationalized to provide the maximum output and customer service with the minimum inventories and operating costs. Most importantly, because a successful pull system requires transition to a throughput-oriented (rather than cost-oriented) strategy, it becomes the springboard to focused application and success for your other productivity improvement efforts.