Expediting is necessary when schedule changes cannot be accommodated by enterprise resources planning, safety stock, or other tools used to organize production. The rest of the time, it is nothing more than a crutch being leaned on by weak managers.
I have recently read an article by Randall Schaefer about Expediting. I founded the story very interesting mostly because it is a real story and I believe that we must learn from the mistakes. Experience is important!
Schaefer say that “Expediting is necessary when schedule changes cannot be accommodated by enterprise resources planning, safety stock, or other tools used to organize production. The rest of the time, it is nothing more than a crutch being leaned on by weak managers.” As Randall I also have seen people that believe expediting is inevitable and that destroy procedure and disciplines which bring order to factories considering them a waste of time and resources or the reason for company immobility.
Schaefer tells that in the 1960s he worked for a company in which the plant superintendent embraced this “expedite” attitude. He thought he could fabricate, assemble, and ship orders through long hours and sheer willpower. First of all, it is not important to focus on the fact that actions such as those of this superintendent may succeed or fail, in fact the first question is how many resources have to be consumed in order to keep other orders from shipping as scheduled and to still understand something about the main factory indicators. My experience is that it is impossible to affirm that we have the control, because it is impossible to imagine the consequences of a creasy expediting, so any succeed or fail is the result of chance.
So the second question is: even if we obtain a succeed how does it cost? And how can we replicate it? My experience is that so fast we got our goal so quickly we realize that we have lost control of all the others.
Schaefer say that his superintendent “cared nothing for the chaos he caused because he believed real manufacturing people got onto the factory floor and pushed the right things through production. Production reporting, schedules, and discipline of any kind were unnecessary in his view. This plant superintendent would promise customers anything they wanted and scream at the operations folks to perform.”
The third question I want to explore is: “is expediting regardless wrong?” Schaefer say that there are two types of expediting: the one caused by customers and suppliers who require a business to overcome their own mistakes and the one caused internally.
In the first case, long-term company viability relies on accommodating customer-generated expediting. In this case the expediting should be occasional that is very different form accepting that the planning process is so inconsistent that is done down on the factory floor. It is normal to have customers more important than others but it is not normal to be always late.
The second type of expediting is caused internally, and we have to get rid of it. When an urgent production run is necessary because something wrong in our supply chain occurs (there isn’t the right stock, the inventory is wrong or someone made an error). In spite of the attitudes of too many managers, errors do not magically disappear they want that. Again Quoting Schaefer : “Each error is caused by a specific person making a specific mistake at a specific time!”
Often the mistake is made by those manager who believes that the fastest way to gain money is to pay less the supplying. I have seen a lot of case in which the deliveries from a low-priced supplier proved more expensive than paying a bit more to a reliable supplier.
When the cause of expediting is internal it has to be eliminated using procedures and disciplines and, when it is external, it has to be reduced because expediting is just as another type of waste. It is creasy to believe that the supply chain can run in the chaos. It would be like to believe that an airport car run with planes that land and fly casually.. we generate a huge disaster!