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We conclude this two part series about manufacturing operations excellence by consultant Chuck Intrieri, by outlaying why manufacturers should focus on a critical component that will help sustain manufacturing operations excellence for years to come. Chuck Intrieri is a Supply Chain Optimization, Logistics, Manufacturing, and 3PL Selection Consultant and you can visit his website at or give him a call at 714-788-0744 or shoot him an email at

What is Driving Sustainable Manufacturing Operations Excellence?

What is the most important part of manufacturing? Is it the assembly line? Equipment? Work centers? Throughput? Quality? Automation? IT Systems?

No, it is none of these. The most important resource in manufacturing is people. Without people there would be no manufacturing. You say, “What about a robotic facility?” No, you still need people to program the robots.

People need to be skilled workers depending on the manufacturing job they do. Skills: programming equipment, setting up tooling, using preventive maintenance, safety systems, machine set up and re-set up. It gets more technical as time passes by each day. The state-of-the-art in manufacturing changes by the minute today. The various skillsets have to change with the change of new technology. Education and training must be continuous to keep up with the times.

An Example of Matching Systems with People for Sustained Manufacturing Operations Excellence

Getting back to the first post about “What is Manufacturing?“, with MRP we generated Purchase Orders (POs) and Manufacturing Orders (MOs). Where did they go? Obviously, they went to Suppliers and the Manufacturing Shop Floor. Does MRP end there? No.

The dates on POs and MOs should be (if managed correctly) offset respecting lead times, and the due dates must meet the Master Production Schedule (MPS). The MPS must have a MPS policy or time fence to take all due dates into consideration to meet the MPS for the finished good or SKU (Stock Keeping Unit).

After the period is over, the Master Production Scheduler sees if the MPS was completed as planned. This is called the “Closed Loop System.” The MPS scheduler analyzes what percent of the MPS was met, and what was “late” in meeting the MPS. The actual vs. planned is measured, and the next MPS is set up based on this data. Later Shop Floor Control (SFC) as added to manage the MOs on the shop floor as they were routed through work centers. Production Control managed the WOs and SFC. You see, these are all PEOPLE managing and analyzing technology and systems to achieve true closed loop manufacturing operations excellence.

The Evolution of Systems, Not Matter How Advanced….Still Managed & Monitored by PEOPLE

The next phase of MRP was MRP II. MRP II added a Business Plan, Financial Plan and Production Plan BEFORE the MPS was run. Part of the Business Plan was Sales and Operations Planning (S and OP) or SIOP adding Inventory Management. In this way, management was involved with MRP.

The Purchasing Department evolved to the Materials Management Department to Supply Chain Management.

MRPII was phased out for-you guessed it-Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). ERP involved and integrated all departments in the company. It added Marketing Management, Sales Management, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Financial Management, Human Resources, Supply Chain Management, Warehousing, and Logistics and/or Distribution. The Information Technology (IT) department became critical as the internal hardware and software had to be managed and monitored by the IT Director/Manager/staff.

All data still had to be 98-99% accurate, daily, for the correct output to be generated or “exploded.”

Eventually each department had sophisticated, tailor made it systems:

From IT hardware and software came: CLOUD on the Internet.

For more integration, the Internet of Things (IoT) to add sensors to integrate everything.

The goal of Manufacturing, like the rest of the company, is still to go beyond your customers’ expectations.

Running Towards LEAN for Better Manufacturing Operations Excellence

Lean initiatives was an important next step for manufacturing operations excellence. Eliminate all waste, increase throughput, and bring value to the customer. A company must change its culture first, as Lean is a new way of doing business. Before you slap in Lean tools: 5S, Kaizen, Kanban and Lean Six Sigma, everyone in the company has to change their habits, beliefs and ways of working to be Lean thinkers and Lean believers. This takes discipline from top management to the people on the Shop Floor. It is a complete paradigm shift. If you just implement 5S, and say you have Lean implemented, it is just a façade.

But, never forget the basics: your people. People are the greatest resource. And, never take data integrity for granted