After the extreme excitement of the last blog, things have quietened down somewhat.
On Saturday, I continued reading 'Information Technology for Manufacturing' (ITM) only to discover that the remaining chapters weren't quite so pertinent to my needs as the opening three. I only leafed through the book, but it was clear that the subjects chosen weren't what I needed to read. I'm not saying goodbye to my 'new friend', but it's clear that our friendship won't be quite as close as I had originally imagined.
As I wrote last week, "We have the woodwork factory whose production time is measured in days, where it's hard to assign specific tasks to specify people and where it seems that the methods of following production were designed by someone divorced from the way the factory works (or more correctly, divorced from the way the factory works now). As a result, the plant manager has to resort to maintaining an Excel spreadsheet which keeps all the data which are relevant to him."
I figured out how I could extend our ERP program to maintain some of the data which he keeps in the spreadsheet; the whole idea of time slices suddenly became much easier and simpler. I wrote with some excitement to the woodwork factory manager on Sunday explaining my solution but he was unable to grasp what I was suggesting. So yesterday, I hauled myself up to the north of Israel and sat with him for a few hours.
I didn't make the sale. My solution was for only part of what his Excel spreadsheet contains; the spreadsheet is heterogenous in that it contains data both about orders and batches (one batch contains one or more orders), and in Priority it is difficult if not impossible to produce heterogenous reports. I suggested a few alternatives, but these require an order to be linked to a batch as soon as possible and for reasons which I don't comprehend, they attach an order to a batch as late as possible.
As I say, I didn't make the sale. We agreed to part as friends.
Another, more promising area for exploration is external optimisation: ERP's work order says to use a certain amount of raw material, but via the use of an external optimiser, the workers are able to produce the same amount of finished product with less than the dictated amount of raw material. This causes problems with stock keeping and creates what Priority calls 'unflushed inventory' (I haven't managed to find any references to this on the Internet). This is definitely an ERP failure and definitely something which I intend to investigate, and hopefully solve. The problem exists (one way or another) in three out of the four business units in my company, so there should be plenty of examples.
It occurs to me that it might be a good idea to try and contact a company who has implemented Priority abroad; I won't be perceived as a competitor, and I can learn what the various terms are called in English.