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AFSO21 Reading list

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- Creating Level Pull, Art Smalley

Personal Review: This is a straightforward workbook from Lean Enterprise Institute. The workbook is centered on a case study and provides easy-to-understand graphics. The big con is that it focuses on high volume production examples. Nevertheless, it provides clear concepts that the reader can work to relate to his/her own work.
Overview (from www.lean.org): 

"The workbook is unique because it is a step-by-step case study on how to implement a level, pull-based production control system," said author Art Smalley. "This is a new step towards 'system kaizen' that is not yet well understood outside of Toyota." 

The Lean efforts at most companies focus on "point kaizen" (e.g., reducing set up times, implementing 6S, etc.) that improves a small portion of the value stream running from raw materials to finished products. Or they focus on "flow kaizen" that improves the entire value stream for one product family. 

Creating Level Pull shows how companies can make the leap to "system kaizen" by introducing a lean production control system that ties together the flows of information and materials supporting every product family in a facility. With this system in place, each production activity requests precisely the materials it needs from the previous activity and demand from the customer is leveled to smooth production activities throughout the plant. 

Using a realistic example facility, Smalley shows readers how to make the transition to a robust pull system. This involves answering a series of 12 critical questions including what items to hold in finished goods inventory and what items to make to order, how to buffer the system against instability, how to schedule batch processes, and how to level the production schedule. Careful attention to leveling (called heijunka) permits facilities to accommodate variations in demand with minimum inventories, capital costs, manpower, and production lead time. 

The main sections of the workbook are:
Getting Started 

Guarding Against Demand Surges and Production Shortfalls

1. Which products should you hold in a finished-goods inventory, and which
products should you produce only to a confirmed order?
2. How much of each product should you hold in finished goods?
3. How will you organize and control the finished-goods store? 

Creating the Pacemaker 

4. At what single point will you schedule the value stream?
5. How will you level production at the pacemaker?
6. How will you convey demand to the pacemaker and finished goods from the pacemaker? 

Controlling Production Upstream 

7. How will you manage information and material flow upstream from the pacemaker?
8. How will you size your markets and trigger withdrawal pull?
9. How will you control batch processes upstream from the market? 

Expanding the System 

10. How will you expand the level pull system across the facility?
Sustaining and Improving
11. How will you sustain your level pull system?
12. How will you improve your level pull system?