Using Protected Flow Manufacturing’s Predictor and Flow Analysis to Offer Better Lead Times

Val Zanchuck, President of Graphicast, Inc. in Jaffrey, NH, talks about how the Predictor and the Flow Analysis within Protected Flow Manufacturing™ gives Graphicast the information they need to start offering better lead times, or to know how much excess capacity they need to maintain so that if a customer requests an expedite – they have the confidence in knowing that if they drop that job in out of sequence they have the capacity to absorb it and it won’t cause other jobs to be late.  Watch Full Video Here

How to make it less late was the information that we got from Protected Flow Manufacturing

According to Val, “Our success with Protected Flow Manufacturing is that if you put everything in the right order to get it out as fast as possible, knowing everything was late, how to make it less late was the information that we got.  So over time, over the course of a couple of months, we noticed the number of jobs at ‘max threat level’ were getting smaller and smaller and smaller, and by using the Predictor and the information that is provided in PFM, we were able to see that the lateness of the jobs was diminishing. So we started out the with jobs being four weeks late, right now the jobs are within a week and we can see that. We can actually see the system improving.”

Val states “The Predictor takes all the information that we have on all the jobs we have in the system and predicts based on our capacity and scheduled vacation and all those other things that are within our flow, run the job so that it’ll get done, so then I can look into the future and say – ok, it looks like within two weeks I’m going to have gaps in the capacity in casting and within four weeks I’m going to have gaps in the capacity in machining – so I know when the operating systems are beginning to open up and we’re getting closer and closer, back to normal production levels.”

Production Execution Workstation

With the Predictor and the Flow Analysis we can go and look at any point in the future, by any department

“The other capability we have is not only with the Predictor but with the flow analysis we can go and look at any point in the future, by any department, so if I go to December 11th in casting I can look and see which job is supposed to be on the floor on that day, where they are in the process, which ones may be late, which ones are on time. So it’s giving me advanced information several months in advance about where we may want to accelerate the production on any particular job, especially since we start opening up capacity now, let’s say in casting, it gives us the ability to start pulling jobs in to get the casting done sooner. Then as we get gaps in the availability in machining we can start pulling jobs in there, so we’re never missing the opportunity to pull the job in. If you look at those schedules, there are no gaps for months, the jobs are just in there one after the other. There’s a very, very consistent, continual flow – no wasted time, at all, in the operation.

Can we shorten our lead times?  Can we operate more efficiently?

“As we get caught up, then our use of PFM will change because right now we’re using it to help us get out of being late, now that we’re getting out of that now we’re going to use it to ask ourselves – Can we shorten our lead times? Can we operate more efficiently? – and the Predictor and the Flow Analysis will give us the indication of whether or not we can start offering better lead times, or how much excess capacity we want to maintain so that if we have a customer come in and they need an expedite – Can you expedite this order? We’ll pay you more for it – but, you know, our customers are asking us to get stuff sooner. We can very easily say ‘oh yea, we’ve got the capacity to add that in’ and then we can re-run the Predictor and say – ok, what’s the impact of pulling this job in on all the other jobs we have. So, if a customer says ‘Hey, can you pull my job in four weeks?’ we can test it in the system and say – wow, if we bring that job in four weeks it makes three other jobs late, let’s try three weeks and ok, that’s good – so we go back to the customer and say ‘well, we can’t do four but we can do three” and we know we’re doing three because the Predictor is telling us we’re not disrupting the rest of the system, there’s enough protective buffer in all the other jobs that the disruption of dropping the job in out of sequence is being absorbed by the buffer and it won’t cause us to be late. So now we can tell the customer with certainty we can get you the job in three weeks and they’re usually happy about that.”

About LillyWorks
The Lilly family has been innovating software for manufacturing companies since 1960. LillyWorks serves only manufacturing companies, putting Manufacturing Back in ERP™. LillyWorks is headquartered at One Liberty Lane, Suite 210, Hampton, NH 03842. Telephone 603-926-9696 or visit

Frustrated by having to tell customers you’re going to be late?  Watch A Better Way to Schedule (video)