From Market Constraint to Production Challenge

Turning the weakest link (constraint) into the leverage point! By Peter Mol

After downsizing due to the disappointing decision and loss of its biggest high volume customer, Steel Foundry Manager Rich, and his Finishing Department Supervisor John had worked hard together with their consultant on the production side to increase reliability and to bring touch-time closer to turn-around time. These improvements were communicated well with Sales Account Manager Nancy and brought her to find out what markets they could go after, especially those markets where turn-around speed was of necessity and benefit to the end-user.

Just being “local” wasn’t enough for Rich. He knew that everyone in the industry would probably come up with the same idea. What Nancy really needed was a product and service offering, which the customer simply could not resist, and which the competitor would not match, even when yielding under pressure..

The change had completely transformed the culture within the Foundry:

  • “Tons per year” had become a swearword
  • they never focused on little schemes that would help the foundry get rid of “waste”
  • Not even one person was let go during the implementation
  • nothing was ever mentioned about resource utilization and machine or department efficiency
  • it was OK if people were standing around when there was no demand for them


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