Add 30% to your Bottom Line by increasing workplace productivity and task accuracy!

Continuous Process Improvement

Increase Revenue by 30%…

by eliminating invisible process inefficiencies that are negatively impacting your business.

For example, each of us pauses in our work dozens (if not hundreds) of times on a daily basis to wait for a computer screen to update or a page to print out.  It is an accepted part of our day.  However, an employee that requires a computer to perform their tasks loses up to ONE month of productivity per year simply waiting on their computer.  Annually, how much productivity does your company lose this way?  Specifically, how much money is lost for every second that your sales people ARE NOT ABLE to make another sale because they are waiting on an old computer, a slow network, poorly designed software, or information from another department?

And that was only a momentary pause, a minor nuisance…  Imagine the cumulative effects of outdated or ineffective business processes churning away deep inside your business.  What are they doing to your bottom line?

FLEX process improvement experts have more than twenty years experience in a wide range of fields, including: manufacturing, quality assurance and quality control, procurement, sales, warehousing and fulfillment, inventory management systems, customer service, shipping, import /export, marketing, information technology, communications, accounting / bookkeeping, daily business operations and more.

Request a free consultation now.

And yes, we do troubleshoot technology bottlenecks, recovering for your company potentially thousands of hours of lost productivity every year.

Luxury goods manufacturer in Tampa, FL
25+ employees, 12+ years in business

The challenge: Resolve chronic inventory inaccuracies that had been plaguing the client for years, wasting a substantial amount of time and frustrating the Sales staff, and causing customer dissatisfaction.

The solution: By fostering communications between departments that traditionally did not interact, FLEX process improvement experts identified multiple out-of-date operational procedures that no longer met the company’s needs.  New procedures were created to control the flow of inventory from Production to Warehousing.  Three separate labeling processes were replaced by a single process that also integrated bar code management.  And a new label design featuring multiple visual cues was created to easily differentiation between near-identical product packages.

The result: Inventory accuracy was immediately improved from 45% to over 95% and remained so a year later, in two years the Sales department was able to produce a 58% increase in gross sales without adding any new members, and customer satisfaction increased dramatically.

The full story:
The client’s concern was the inaccuracy of inventory for finished goods and assembly parts, an issue which negatively impacted Sales on a daily basis. Due to the large number of inaccuracies in the inventory management software (over 55% of inventory was inaccurate), products were regularly sold that actually were not in stock. Errors required considerable work to fix: re-contacting the customer, adjusting sales orders with substitute items (which sometimes also were not in stock), re-submitting all paperwork due to differences in invoice amounts etc. The Sales department reported that up to half of every day was taken up with fixing these problems.

Also, the assembly parts inventory was equally inaccurate, sometimes causing situations where top-selling finished goods could not be manufactured because key parts were not in stock, some with long lead times.

The client was performing weekly inventory audits on commonly sold finished goods and high consumption assembly parts. At the end of each audit, adjustments were made to the inventory management software (IMS). However, at each audit inventory counts frequently deviated from the IMS, sometimes by a large number and with no explanation of what had gone wrong.

While meeting with members of Sales and the Warehouse over the next few days, we uncovered a few culprits as the likely suspects causing many of the issues. For instance, sales orders were not being fulfilled in consecutive order. Thus sales order 513, which was placed early in the morning for customer AB that required shipment, was fulfilled long after sales order 555 for customer BC to pick up in person. The inventory had been in stock when sales order 513 was placed, but was instead used to fulfill the later sales order 555. Customer AB does not get their product and the problem is blamed on inventory inaccuracies. Another common issue was product placed in the wrong location. The weekly spot audits only counted specific locations. Thus incorrectly placed products might never be found. Yet another common issue was incorrectly labeled products.

All these initial issues we could remedy. However, nothing was found to explain how a weekly inventory audit could produce large deviations. On arrival we had asked the client to perform a daily morning and evening count of their top selling product, so now there were a few days logged. It turns out that every day saw a large discrepancy, of differing magnitudes, and plus or minus. One particular day the logs actually indicated the day starting with six cases missing, and ending with those six cases amazingly returned along with an additional seven cases that Production stubbornly insisted that they did not manufacture that day. From six cases missing to seven extra cases of product in nine hours.

We dug into the product transaction logs for the past few days and tabulated: manufacturing logs from Production, Sales transactions, returns, shipments and pick-ups. The solution was there. Production was not logging the completion of new inventory in the IMS. And it wasn’t their job duty to do so. Instead Production kept a daily log on paper of products manufactured. Usually first thing the next morning, but sometimes much later, that paper was brought to the General Manager’s assistant who was instructed to enter the data the same day, but sometimes it was left for the next day. At any given time the IMS could be up to 48 hours out of date with respect to the actual inventory. Additionally, since manufacturing was tracked on paper in handwriting, the simple issue of poor handwriting causing transcription errors caused even more damage to inventory accuracy.

After learning the standard flow and rhythm of the workplace, the FLEX team wrote new standard operating procedures that smoothly integrated into the daily tasks of the employees. Production was trained to log manufacturing activities directly on the IMS, and also added product label checking to their Q&A process. Manufactured products were staged in a neutral area and the Warehouse staff was tasked with verifying product counts. Warehouse staff was also trained to receive into the IMS all newly manufactured products. Additionally, a full inventory was completed in which every case was opened, every product identified, every label corrected, and everything put in its proper place.

Two years later, the client is still reporting astounding results. Virtually eliminating inventory errors had also eliminated a substantial amount of: owner anxiety, employee frustration, customer dissatisfaction, and wasted time. So much time was saved that, even with a 58% increase in gross sales, it had not been necessary to add a single new person to the Sales department.

Luxury goods manufacturer in Tampa, FL
30+ employees, 14+ years in business

The challenge: A combination of factors, including a rapidly increasing number of assembly parts and offshore vendors, poor processes, and a lack of enterprise-level reporting was causing serious supply chain issues and resulting in loss of sales and increasing customer dissatisfaction.

The solution: FLEX process improvement experts identified and eliminated assembly part “black holes”, created processes to better control the movement of assembly parts in and out of Production, and upgraded reporting capabilities with a custom OLAP cube and powerful analytics.  Finally, a new model of procurement was presented that took into consideration: short term and long term sales trends, seasonal trends, vendor defect rates and manufacturing error rates, vendor lead times, and also the effects of new products on existing sales (all supplied by the upgraded reporting tool).

The result: Serious vendor defect issues were uncovered, as well as a few shortcomings in manufacturing tooling.  The new processes created a new level of understanding of daily issues within the Production department and dramatically reduced the inaccuracy of assembly parts inventory.  Finally, with the new reporting tool and procurement model, all supply chain issues were eliminated.

The full story:
The client was rapidly expanding their product line and was facing a too-fast growing complexity of managing procurement of assembly parts from vendors in multiple countries. Especially given that the number of assembly parts had multiplied by tenfold in the past three years! The client was a year or two out from moving into an enterprise-level manufacturing resource planning (MRP) software package and was searching for a low-cost intermediate solution.

The main issue the client was experiencing was simply the weak reporting capability of their current software. For example, new products were generally in the pipeline for several months. However, when the scheduled manufacturing launch date arrived, common assembly parts used in many different products might not be stocked in sufficient quantities to manufacture the new products in addition to existing products. Another problem was under-ordering. No matter how carefully sales data was examined, somehow the ordered quantities of assembly parts frequently fell short of meeting actual demand, and thus high-demand products were frequently out of stock. Finally, there was some unexplained inventory accuracy problems.

FLEX process improvement experts found that procurement was operating more or less on a consumption model, seeking to simply replenish parts that had been used according to reports. This model did not take into account vendor defects, manufacturing errors, or new products consumption. In fact, the company did not have a system for documenting vendor defects or manufacturing errors. These systems were created and teams were set up to perform the large amount of work necessary to calculate the losses for the past year or so. There were some quite serious vendor defect issues that needed to be addressed. There was also a manufacturing issue that could be remedied with some updated tooling. With these new numbers at hand, it was clear where inventory accuracy problems might be coming from, and therefore some instances of assembly parts shortages. We created processes for daily updates of assembly parts reductions due to vendor defects and manufacturing errors. We also encouraged better communications between the affected departments.

Next FLEX sought to create more sophisticated reporting. Given the limitations of the existing software package, we decided on using an external tool to remodel the client’s data into an OLAP cube. Microsoft Excel was the software of choice at the company, so we created an Excel workbook containing numerous worksheets (hidden) that ultimately displayed all the reporting necessary on a single sheet. This sheet reported for every assembly part:

  • inventory count
  • past 30 / 60 / 90 / 180 / 365 days consumption of part within finished goods by sales
  • given current finished goods inventory, total parts consumption for 3 / 6 months inventory on the shelf
  • past 30 / 60 / 90 / 180 / 365 days consumption of part by new builds of finished goods
  • total consumption for all scheduled builds (scheduled manufacturing)
  • shortfall of inventory for scheduled builds
  • total quantity, average cost and total cost on open purchase orders
  • consumption of future new products that have an established bill of materials (BOM)
  • vendor lead times and quite a bit more…

The worksheet was color-coded by severity of issue and the results were plain to see. The assembly parts ‘big picture’ report was a tremendous success! Combined with the new procedures for tracking vendor defects and manufacturing errors, the procurement manager was now able to make purchase decisions with full awareness of how each aspect of the company would affect total consumption for every assembly part.