Finite Capacity Scheduling
by Gerhard Plenert PhD and Bill Kirchmeir
I met Gerhard and talked with him for an hour at a customers office of one of our franchisees in Reno NV, which specializes in antique car restoration and maintenance. Gerhard was in the waiting room reading what may have been Steven Hawkins, so we began talking. Imagine my surprise to find he had worked with so many great companies in the early computer days and with the automotive industry and many other heavy Equipment Industries. Well since I had him there for 1 hour, I barraged him with questions from converting Space Energy (radiation and different light spectrums into energy for our planet), to taking his methods to the service industry. He too barraged me with questions on franchising, and later we talked about the status of expert and we both laughed when we found out we were both published in our fields of expertise. He admitted to writing books about his subject so I ordered one and it shocked me that it was $55.00 plus tax, after reading it, I was shocked that so much information on the reality of efficiency had ever been compiled in one place.
First off I would like to say that this book is not just for Manufacturing Executives. I believe this book should be read by our Military for infantry Logistics and moving forces into a hostile area for possible future engagement. It should be read by NASA who occasionally has missed appointments with Asteroids or launches. As NASA learns how to attain multi-dimensional space travel it will be imperative to be a the right place at the right time and to jump dimensions of space time otherwise it does not appear that travel beyond the speed of light will occur in our life time. Computers are here to stay and they can help us streamline efficiency and allow all business models to work in real-time. The new way of manufacturing will be FCS and not Infinite Scheduling Backwards Pass (ISBP). Many aspects of this book dealt with the implementing of such a system and also with the reality of change and the fear and roadblocks by conventional wisdomers.
Newtons Law to manufacturing;
For every expert with a perfect solution there is an equal and opposite expert with a perfect solution.
Now, there in lies the problem. How to get there. We all want the same results in government, we want utopia. In Economics we want stabilization, in manufacturing we want the ultimate efficiency. So in US governments we have Democrats, Republicans and now we have CHADs. In Economics we have Friedman and Keynes. In manufacturing it use to be Deming and TQM vs. the old way of thinking. Today it is finite capacity scheduling (FCS) with software scenarios vs. other systems we have been taught, such as Material Requirements Planning (MRP). Supply Chain Management (SCM), Schedule Based Manufacturing (SBM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) all of which may appear to be viable on first glance and work for a limited purpose if all things are equal. However it does not appear that in the history of our Planet all things have ever been equal. In theory maybe, yet even on the most level of playing fields, they are skewed in one way or the other, by size, weight, strength, materials, wind, etc. There is always a variable or a gray area (thank god otherwise attorneys would all be out of work eyh?). Incidentally god did not make attorneys, otherwise they would still be arguing if Adam and Eve should receive belly buttons, and with no supreme court yet established to kick it back to a lower court the human race would never have come to be, during those last days before the rest. Or maybe god got so tired of dealing with attorneys he had to rest.
The book went into detail the cost to expedite a job, and to deliver on promises made by sales staff to acquire the order, which were impossible considering all the other promises, which were to be scheduled simultaneously. This caused over time and accidents and problems with compliance issues with many agencies and still did not get all the jobs done so the customer base was in constant attrition. In wartime you need to expedite everything and one of the reasons that we beat the Germans was because we built 96,000 aircraft to their 30,000 that last year of the war. It was not that we had better aircraft. They had equally brilliant minds on their side, and a hell of a head start. We of course had the desire to win. And we had the manufacturing and the resources as Germany was running out of everything. Charles Lindbergh warned us on his visit of the Luftwaffe and their incredible planes and weapons of war that the Germans already had pre-war (many called him a NAZI sympathizer, which is hard argue, but we should have still listened. He was definitely enthralled with their innovations). It truly was the manufacturing and the great American push to move mountains that won us the war. Everyone participated and helped in the war efforts. Breaking the backs of the Germans was not easy, breaking their manufacturing abilities and running them out of resources is what helped almost as much as the actual fighting. It will be hard to fight waving sticks when B-1 Bombers are flying overhead; because by the time you see them it is too late. Saddams army never had a chance since we had logistically won the war before it started. Many battles in history, even our own civil war was about train tracks, supply and troops moving and feeding armies. The South had factories but found it hard to match the output of the North. Larger Armies more guns, better stabilized currency. Innovation helped when they changed the bullets and muskets, which could shoot farther with better accuracy yet within months both sides had all the same technology. In WWII Germans were working on the hydrogen Bomb and so were we, at least Einstein in his letter to the president indicated he believed they were working on it when he asked for funding of the Manhattan Project.
Innovation in Manufacturing is important it helped Pirelli and Firestone and a few other tire manufacturers increased production and leap frogged other technologies. But in the end they all had the new technology and the real problem was who could build the most using the same technology. Cold War days, we simply out spent and bluffed our way into winning the cold war. We may have to do this again. We and the Russians both had the technology, and the resources, yet our great economic machine was too powerful, probably due to the productivity derivative of a capitalistic society vs. a communist one. Even though none of the last three paragraphs were in the book, it is necessary to further point out why this book is so important.
Another great quote in the book;
Behold the turtle who only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.
I believe that FCS is the solution to DaimlerCryslers dilemma in Europe. Many countries there and their citizens favor a customized car like a Dell computer delivered in less than 30 days. Not the one size fits all car, which has been Fords answer to profit taking in Europe. Tomorrow and today’s new demands are for zero inventory and immediate delivery with maximum efficiency; this can all be achieved with FCS. It also can work in training of new Army recruits, Navy pilots, and third world dictators. I believe car wash guys can easily implement such a training version of FCS even though no one has ever done it before. I also believe that we can deliver real time services to our customers and allocate the necessary resources without wasting by GPS tracking, real time scheduling changes, labor, supplies, equipment and crews. There is no difference fundamentally between labor at a manufacturing facility and labor on a job site or multiple jobs sites for that matter. A computer does not cry when you add perimeters and does not need more food or coffee to run by the seat of its pants. It is not an emotional issue, it just is. Likewise a computer can calculate many equations simultaneously, many can easily
do 10,000 possibilities per second. Still want to play chess with a computer? So does that mean the death of the entrepreneur?
Does that mean the Howard Hughes days of innovation and flying by the seat of your pants are done forever? No there will always be prototypes, with no parts available yet, but what it does mean is that the entrepreneur can see his dreams come to fruition better because they may actually make a profit. Does it mean that there will be no more defective units? No, there will always be defective parts from manufacturers who rely on sub parts, which are not built in the same way. In Taiwan many company have experienced up to 35% more productivity by only changing to the methodology of Finite Capacity Scheduling. So for America to complete its productivity without affecting its bottom line we simply produce more with the same amount of labor and manufacturing abilities. Think of it. Even if the dollar is strong a shit we can still sell for less because we are producing more with the same fixed base costs. This means we can beat everyone still.
Let the innovators innovate and the manufacturing Schedulers schedule using FCM systems and we will increase our output and win, even if we are all using the same secrets stolen from our scientific communities. The book refers to Peter Drucker who stated that the true measure of productivity is the output per unit of time given the finite resources. Yes I believe this to be and have always said the money is in the time and not the completed job.
This should be obvious to anyone who has bid a job to low and later completed the job quicker than anticipated due to a new method of operation discovered upon commencing of the job. Sometimes it takes a few times to see how to actually do the work and then refine the technique, in actuality you are performing manual Finite Capacity Scheduling even though it is the most elementary part of the actual FCS model. Now add jobs, labor, and resources to the equation and then try to factor in all the materials and times the materials, soaps, supplies, etc are needed and what do you have? A complex mess, which requires lots of thought and time.