No I didn't give ERP the finger. Mike Wroblewski did via an article in Reliable Plant. As regular readers know, I'm not exactly a fan of big overly complex software to manage production operations that are often inherently simple. And every time I spout off on ERP systems, often referencing one of our most popular posts on using a whiteboard and some beer instead of software, I get a few more comments saying that ERP is inevitable. Luckily Mike and his company, Batesville Casket, believe otherwise.
resource planning (ERP) systems knows that while these systems are
meant to make life simple for us, it more times than not works in the
opposite direction. We are constantly battling to schedule our work to
match our customer requirements based on the output of our computer
system. To borrow a quote by Japanese NUMMI leaders as reported on Curious Cat blog,
“computerized inventory systems lie”. Regardless of all our efforts to
keep current and accurate information fed into the mouth of the
computer ERP system beast, our computer system never matches the
dynamic, real (physical) world. In my experience, it’s true that
computerized inventory systems lie.
Mike then discusses how his company is using an alternative, with some inspiration from, ahem… well, you know.
visual means instead of using ERP solutions within the plant. We even
have started using the whiteboard scheduling approach in our dry lumber
storage before cutting. The whiteboard approach has been recommended
many times in the past by Kevin Meyer at Evolving Excellence. The goal is to make it simple and visual.
Batesville Casket isn't exactly a small company. Neither are many of the other companies I know that use manual, visual shop floor scheduling.
How about you? Are you continually fighting inventory and scheduling glitches from your ERP system? Perhaps it's time to focus on how simple manufacturing really can be and invest in a whiteboard.