Information Flow

I would like to talk about how I deal with logistics in my daily work, focusing on the importance of information flow. I work as a production manager in a local furniture factory. The company focuses its efforts in creating exclusive and personalized products for the senior executive segment, being big meeting tables the most representative product.

jmm-aramco

In order to compete in the market, the company tries to deliver high quality customized products within a short delivery time (usually 35-50 days). All the meeting tables are designed specifically to meet each client needs (regarding sizes, materials, electronic devices); therefore most of the time gathering materials in advance is unnecessary.

I am aware of the short delivery time for such special products; consequently boosting the information flow is very important. The process normally works as follows:

The sales department receives the purchase order, and they are in charge of introducing it on the production program.  Sometimes the specifications and definition of the product are not complete. In those cases, I ask the sales department to talk to the client, but as we sell products to many countries, we do not immediately receive the answer.

Once the product is well-defined, it is time to speak with the technical department. They have to identify all the raw materials, make the CAD/CAM drawings, and define the products that we will order to the external suppliers. The purchase department is in charge of gathering what is needed. As we do not buy big batches of anything, it is important to have good relations (kind of friendship) with all of the suppliers, in order to reduce the delivery time.

Now, we are able to start the production phase. Do you remember those 50 days? We do not have them anymore. Some of the materials are delivered in the factory, but we also have to pick up some of them with our means. Metallic raw materials are delivered within 2 days, but wooden raw ones take around 10 days. Leather and electronic devices are delivered normally in 20 days. It is important to know exactly when all of them are coming.

There are five different areas in the factory (metalwork, woodwork, upholstery, assembly and packaging) and all of them have to know exactly what to do. The process starts manufacturing the wooden and metallic parts of the table. When they are finished, some of them are sent to an external supplier (finishing process / 6-8 days), and others are moved to the upholstery process. Once everything is finished, we assembly the table, check the quality, disassembly it and pack everything for delivering. Most of the times we also manufacture big wooden boxes to put the packaged parts inside and avoid problems during transportation.

To sum up, I consider that Information flow is very important among all the processes, in order to avoid time wastes, as well as to involve everybody in the delivery time. On the other hand, all suggestions about how to improve the process will be really welcome.

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