All posts by Barbara Cattabriga

Mi nombre es Barbara Cattabriga Enebral. Amante del medio ambiente, los animales y la buena comida (sobre todo la de mi madre). Siempre dispuesta a conocer nuevos paisajes y segura de que en cada esquina hay algo nuevo e interesante que descubrir. Los invito a ver nuestro blog, en el que intentamos recapitular los lugares que hemos visitado y adornarlos con fotografías y recomendaciones.

Production of Yamaha Guitars

Today the process automation has become part of many large companies, but some still have manual processes required to acquire the qualities of the products. The complexity, the need for constant monitoring, the thoroughness of some tasks fit and high quality feel and sound, is beyond the scope of available technology. The machines, do play a vital role and streamline many processes. Some tasks, such as intensive precision and repetition, are best left to machines, anyway they can´t replace the ability, skills, sensitivity and expertise of a craftsmen at many stages during the production. Additionally, to meet the specific and individual requirements of some clients, individual attention is required in many processes. (Guitar2go, n.d)


I could explain the entire process, which is really interesting, though; below you will find a video for you to see it yourselves. The interesting thing about this post is that in the video you can identify some of the techniques we’ve seen in class. For example, in 3:49 and 4:40 minute we can identify “ANDON system control”, with traffic lights that alert color process status.

Throughout the video, we can see how the order and cleanliness prevail. In 8:11 minute we can see all tools have their defined position. We can identify this with Tool “5’s”: It aims to make workplaces work better organized, tidier and cleaner permanently for greater productivity and improved working environment. Delete, Sort, Clean, Standardize and Respect.

In the video you will see some other tools taught in class. Take a look  and find out if you can identify some. Enjoy !!

Why and How to implement Heijunka

My one slide for next week is about Heijunka. I will like to show you the importance about this basic pillar of the lean manufacturing philosophy. Some would say that the Lean Manufacturing Philosophy can be defined as The Toyota House, or the TPS House (See the image below, I did it because there were many examples on the web, please correct me if any mistake), however, it doesn’t matter how you called it, the thing is that “A house divided cannot stand”, that means that every part of the house has a role and a specific propose. In this post I will try to explain the Heijunka block as a part of the house. (Abilla, 2012)

House of lean

Heijunka is a Japanese technique that in english means «Leveling» or «Production smoothing». In the application of Heijunka, production doesn´t vary according to customer demand, but relies on it to adjust the volumes and sequences of the products to be manufactured, furthermore, the production department should be sure that the components are sequenced to be available in the right quantity and at the right time (McManus, 2013). If a company implement property the Heijunca, it will helps to avoid batching, reduce wastes and finished goods inventories,  reduce capital cost and production lead time, and of course eliminates unevenness in workload (MURA) and intensive work (MURI) that can lead to security problems and quality.

I have found some tools and calculations that are useful for the implementation of Heijunca in a right way:


1. Calculate tack time(seg /min /hr)

   Tack Time = Production time available / total number required

2. Calculate pitch of each product: (high volume = 12 and 30 min)

   Number of pieces per unit time, based on tack time required to               perform operations units.

  Tack time Pitch X = Number of units in the    package.

3. Establish the production rate:

   Taking the lowest value of the pitch and distribute in even         increments according to the product to be manufactured, and the         actual total daily production time.

4. Creating Heijunka box:

   Used to manage leveling the volume and variety of production over      a specific period of time physical device

Here is an strange video, that explain in a funny way what Heijunka is.

How can we get hot food and undamaged from a Vending Machine

I used to live in Benimaclet, and everyday i passed in front of a vending machine which serves hot fast food, but i wasn’t used to these machines, from where i come, this doesn’t exist yet. I really appreciate seating at a restaurant, enjoying time, flavors, smells, and so on. So I don’t usually pay attention to that machine. One day, coming back at night i realize that I have nothing for dinner, and i just stop at that strange machine and took a hot hamburger, for my surprise, it was really yummy. From that day I promised myself to take a look at the logistics behind the vending machine, so, today is the day.

It isn’t a hard job, but neither easy.


Normally owners of vending machines, have several machines in different places and establishments, some of them working 24 hours 7 days a week. Also, they usually have different types of machines like: cold food, sweets, hot foods, drinks, and so on. This is really what makes the business complicate and careful planning.

The logistics behind the vending machines has a lot to do with inventories. Inventories should be done carefully, taking into account the range of each machine, the expiration date of each product, and that each machine should always have products available. Also, it has to be taken into account that there must be an adequate storage for food and with enough space to store stock. Additionally, the owners must have a vehicle for the replacement of the products and to allow the machines to have change available the all day, always available to meet a specific schedule. (Hostelvending, 2014)

These machines usually breakdowns, so it must have the support of technical staff to resolve the problems quickly, because it is seen that these machines are made for profit only when they get to sell about 15 products a day.

To conduct this business, you should get some important licenses as: business taxes, tax operating machinery, municipal tax card location and handling of food. (Vending machines, 2009). There are some statistics that say that this way of serving food will grow rapidly and in some cases will substitute the original way people use to eat, especially for people that doesn’t have enough time to take a break.  I just don’t agree with this kind of service, if we can call it service, what do you think?

The logistics behind recycling

Since I came to Valencia, Spain, I recycle as much as I can. For me this is a new experience and it sounds a little silly but I´m really excited about it.

This is a process that includes the collaboration of the society, in which everyone has to make a little effort to make it real. It also involves private and public companies, which require the municipal waste as raw materials; the collaboration and contracts of the communities and municipalities of Spain; traders; and of course the important labor, discipline, and commitment of Ecoembes.

Ecoembes is the non-profit association who takes care of the environment through the recycling and the eco-design of the packaging in Spain. They make it possible to give a second life to the plastic, cans, and bricks (yellow container); cartons and paper (blue containers) that we placed in the containers. It is a large and complicated process which results in a reduction of landfills, less CO2 emissions, saving water, energy saving, and green job creation. To make it easier to understand I will explain it with the figure below that I have taken and translated from the web page of Ecoembes

Proceso Ecoembes

Resultado Ecoembes

To make it possible, Ecoembes has on the disposition to the citizens more than 500.000 containers yellow and blue, 24/7 the all year. Municipalities are the responsible for picking up the recycling containers and dropping into “selection plants” where are previously classified and then recycled.

The recycled material must be classified based on qualities and characteristics. In Spain geography, there are 96 sorting plants were packing light is separated into at least three fractions and each fraction must go to its corresponding recycler which is responsible for transforming them into new raw material. These fractions are: metals (steel and aluminum), plastics (PET, HDPE, and Plastic Film Mixture), and cartons.

It is not an easy logistic process; it takes time, precision, compromise, education, environment care, between others and all the factors involve has to be taken into account. For example, they work with indicators that take into consideration which is the most efficient way of taking the recycling materials(lateral load, igloo, back load, bagging, and others). This is a huge world, which I’m interested to know, collaborate, and discuss with anybody that feels that this is a way of making the world a better place to live.

Why is the road transport so expensive?

I used to work as a “transport specialist” in a distribution center called “Distribuidora Alcarin”, in Venezuela. Before reading the post, I invited you to take a look to the video on the home page of the company. (ALCARIN HOME PAGE)

Alcarin Logo

The video shows an organize distribution system were trucks come into the distribution center; pick the order and move on to the stores to deliver all kinds of goods. This company also works directly with the clients and with a very complex activity that is called Cross docking. I can tell that transportation by road is nothing but a complex activity, were a lot of factors are involved. It is not only about taking good decision, having good control of indicators, a good GPS system or a specialist logistic group, sometimes it is also about how lucky you are. So, I won’t use references this time, I will write about my own experience.

When I started at the company, I was supposed to work in the principal office, with indicators, charges for theft or misplacement and with directly contact with the clients, making agreements and passing information to the coordinators of each operation. Suddenly, I knew all the names, vehicles plate, and the history of almost the half of the transport fleet. Can you imagine why? I can tell because of the transport charges.

Goods become property of the carriers in the exactly moment when the truck doors get closed “that’s when you start to pray”. You may say: “You are overreacting”, how can it be?. Here are some examples of especial events and robberies that happen during one year and a half:

– Because of poor conditions of the roads, goods can suffer all kind of damage. They may fall, break and bend. But, the must curios thing is when trucks flipped in the wrong area, and people from near village’s loot the truck. So, whom you blame? The government for the conditions of the road, the driver for being distracted, the people from the village?. Anyway, this is all about money, and no matter how will pay and how much, it is a loss anyway.

– Road transport provides limited protection to goods from rain, sun, dust and wind. You can try to take care of all details, the conditions of the trucks, documents, measures, etc, but there is always a small hole in the roof of the truck, that may damage something. And once again, even if you get pay, there is already a big loss of money and reputation.
– Boxes suddenly disappear, units from big boxes disappear, and even trucks disappear. And one last time, your money and reputation is already gone.

I can keep on giving you examples and anecdotes, but the point is that road transportation is so expensive, not only because of the delays, uneconomical long distances, spending on gasoline, vehicle maintenance, and so on. But, because of any amount of details that cannot be controlled. However, I can tell this has been one of the best experiences of my life; these people have a very different way of living and I have learned a lot from them. It is a complex and ambiguous job, but don’t know how it is special and interesting at the same time.

What´s behind your Internet shopping?

When you are shopping online, for sure you are not thinking about the massive distribution network required to bring you that special product you are buying. Well, it is a huge work, and companies like Amazon have to invest heavily to keep competitive in this sector. (Rapacki. E, 2014)

In march 2012 Amazon acquire Kiva Systems (an innovative robotic order picking system) for $ 775 million in cash (Gilmore, 2013), from that moment, Amazon warehouses has hundreds of “autonomous mobile robots” scurry around the floor and delivered entire shelves to stationary pick stations, where laser scanners and indicator lights assist people in processing orders(Mills. M, 2012).

How does this acquisition improve Amazon productivity?. “It´s seen that this new technology triples productivity while simultaneously improving the seed, accuracy and flexibility of the operation” (Kiva System, 2014). Frist of all, working with robots is much more efficient than sending people through warehouses to retrieve the goods and it also improved picking time. In addition, it requires less material handling equipment (such as pallet jacks, forklifts, conveyors) than traditional warehouses. Here you can see a video that will help you to understand what I´m talking about.

What we are observing is the migration of robots out of the manufacturing sector into the supply chain where we handle and deliver stuff, leading many people to assume “robots kill jobs”. What do you think about this?



Companies like Mercadona acquired advantages from organized innovations that allowed them to obtain competitiveness and adaptability to complex demand. They began as a small business in 1977 Valencia, Spain, in an area away from their respective metropolitan market, but they advanced to become leaders in their domestic markets. Since 1993, the philosophy of Mercadona has been based in “TOTAL QUALITY”, and is based on five components:

  • Customers (the chief)
  • Personnel
  • Suppliers
  • The corporation
  • Capital

The company aimed at organizing people´s abilities (suppliers, workers) in order to satisfy people´s needs (customers). Their innovative and efficient way of dealing with suppliers and customers, their low prices, their quality service, the adoption of technological advances in commercialization and logistic organization processes have developed in a business culture and made them the leaders of their direct competitors (conventional supermarkets, hypermarkets and a segment of the discount stores).

Mercadona has an automated distribution centers that provide them with sophisticated technology, probably one of the most modern of Spain and Europe. The real objective is to gain efficiency with less effort. It is seen that they are applying something similar to Lean Manufacturing, but with the benefits of the new technologies.  Let’s see a video that will show their distribution center from the inside.

Supplier Development makes you competitive

Supplier Development makes you competitive

There is a growing recognition that supply chain performance possibly influence in the competitiveness of your company, in this way, many  organizations are increasing their interest about supplier development strategies, which include, the suppliers evaluation, selecting the best suppliers, making efforts to develop suppliers performance and capabilities, improving customer-supplier relationship, etc.

Supplier development is a process which includes any set of activities that a buyer (a company) undertakes to improve the supplier performance and capabilities, in a way that generate favorable results for both parties in a long-term. The buyer should design a Supplier Development Program, which require an investment of time, money and space from both parties (the buyer and the supplier); this program may result in an improvement in the supplier performance and, consequently, in a strengthening of the buyer´s competitiveness.

There are some elements that appear to be critical to the success of a Supplier Development effort:

  •        Effective two-way multifunctional communication.
  •        Top management involvement
  •        Cross functional buying firms teams
  •        Price versus the total cost of ownership
  •        Long term perspective
  •        Supplier evaluation
  •        Supplier recognition

A supplier Development effort represents an initiative that can help the firm meet strategic organizational objective. In the one-page picture I´m adding to this post, you can also find other activities that can help an organization to reach competitiveness.

Supplier Development