Bakers Dozen - Image credit Pixabay/moreharmonyThere are times when I read a company’s whitepaper  and a smile breaks across my face. More often than not this smile is replaced by a grimace and then when it gets really bad the grimace is replaced by abject horror at the contents.

This was almost the case when I followed a link to a recent Global Shop Solutions whitepaper entitled 13 To Do’s To Manufacture Like A Boss (registration required0. OK, so the name is not a great start, but I figured I would persevere. After all, I created and ran a manufacturing company for well over a decade – maybe I could learn something here about the mistakes I made, or simply reinforce the good decisions I made.

Design Overload

Once I had got past the graphical design of the whitepaper – call me an Indesign snob if you will – I dove into the contents. The whitepaper basically touts a baker’s dozen of guidelines about how to be a better manufacturing company.

So, we are clear here, it is a commonly held belief that the phrase Baker’s Dozen originated from the practice of medieval English bakers to give an extra loaf when selling a dozen in order to avoid being penalised for potentially selling short weight. This is a lovely idea, so maybe Global Shop Solutions did not want to be selling the reader short with their whitepaper.

But back to the whitepaper. I started to read the document and consume its contents. The opening text is somewhat clumsy, and I felt that smile appear on my face. I got a little worried I have to say. Then grimace started to warm up…

Let’s look at a precis of the 13 points

Point 1 – Prepare to win. Manufacturing can be won or lost in how prepared your company is, not just a person.

We had only just started, and I grimaced. This one read like a secondary school textbook.  I felt a little patronised and I also felt that a motivational speaker had hijacked the whitepaper. In this day and age do we really need to make a comment like this as the opening gambit in a 13-point list of manufacturing guidelines!?

Point 2 – Have accurate bills and routers. Without accuracy, lead times will be incorrect, resulting in materials being ordered at wrong times, and an overstock of inventory or expedited fees to get product in.

Spot on. I can only but agree 100% with this sentiment as overstock often made my life a misery. Consider the grimace calmed.

Point 3 – Set realistic due dates. Plan your work orders correctly to set yourself up for success.

Point 4 – Correct cost and conversion factors. You should know the cost of a PO at any given time.

Point 5 – Have timely PO receipts. When you enter the PO receipt on time, traceability of any material needed to complete the PO will not be lost.

Back to the school textbook.

Point 6 – Issue material on time. Controlling your inventory is one of the most important components in manufacturing.

Point 7 – Watch your cycle count adjustments. The more cycle count adjustments made, the less inventory control there will be.

Good points. Obvious, but good ones to make.

Point 8 – Finish your jobs. If you’re not closing out jobs correctly, materials will continue to be issued out leading to incorrect demand.

Point 9 – Have a plan. Inspect your inventory and products as you go instead of at the end.

Pretty sure we should have deleted 8 and 9 – stating the obvious here is somewhat hard to swallow.

Point 10 – Track labour and perform daily balancing. It’s better to find labour mistakes as soon as they happen so the cost is corrected immediately. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Point 11 – Close work orders on time. It will save you time, money, and a major headache when it comes to parts being cycled in and out because you forgot to close out a work order.

Point 12 – Compare estimates to actuals. Having something to base costing on is important because you don’t have a way to know if your cost is correct without a baseline being established.

10-12 are fine.

Point 13 – Stop guessing and start knowing. Know your costs with accurate precision instead of guessing at what it really costs to get a part out the door.

Nightmare. I would have tried to make point 13 less patronising…

What does it all mean?

From a personal perspective I think my biggest issue with the whitepaper is that it reads like a group of extracts taken from an Idiot’s Guide to Manufacturing book.

I would, however, recommend that folk download and look at the whitepaper in its entirety. If you look past the initial 13-point headlines you can see what Global Shop Solutions were shooting for in the creation of this whitepaper. Also, you should head off to the company’s website. Look around as you will find significantly more useful information as the company clearly has a deep understanding of manufacturing and ERP systems.

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Cut him in half and the word technologist runs through Neil Fawcett’s core. Starting life as an engineer, specialising in the world of home computing, Neil the move to writing in 1985 and as the expression goes… never looked back. He was key to moving Computer Weekly away from its bias as a mainframe/minicomputer news title and propelled it into the exciting world of personal computing, breaking many an exclusive story. Following his tenure at CW he went on to work for various other publications, including participating in the UK launch of Information Week. During this time, he played a pivotal role in establishing custom publishing units designed to work alongside vendors to help define end-user publications and campaigns. Neil’s ability to take complex technology subjects and deliver digestible content frequently saw him appear on the likes of the national newspapers, the BBC and Sky, and often found himself delivering speeches to audiences around the world. With numerous books under his belt, Neil took time out in the new millennium to pursue a passion for toys/gaming and military history as he set up a manufacturing company with a global reach. He is now thrilled to have come full-circle and be back writing about his core passion: technology!


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