Book review on Finite Capacity Scheduling, Part II
Now add ten more car wash trucks, with the corresponding work to be done and add two more shifts to each truck to achieve maximum capacity and what do you have? 12 hours worth of scenario scheduling and moving around resources to see what fits best. What if a computer did it in 20 minutes? It can you know. Even though Swartzkoff has an IQ of 165 it does not mean he does not need to use the finite capacity scheduling methods to help him arrive at the most efficient scenario. It just so happens that it will work and he can use his brainpower to decide which scenario will work based on his knowledge of human motivation which may or may not be computer ready, based on the battle at hand. Another reason why it is not such a bad idea to send unmanned fighter planes into a battle zone to fight and why it is necessary to have a missile defense system set up at our perimeters. FCS scheduling works in all the tests our strategic team has placed on it from a Blitz marketing mission to a customer response system for services real time using e-commerce. FED Ex does use a finite capacity approach to overnight package delivery. It does not look like one on the surface yet it most certainly is. As teams of people use all resources at hand and move the flow real time to the next job as completed. All with such precision that it is truly predictable to schedule. Impossible? Go to Memphis at midnight and take the $200.00 tour. Every President of the US should go see it once. Every executive of every company who wants to be here in five years ought to see it. Few companies do it as well as Fed Ex. I believe the FCS model taken to its fullest could actually increase the Fed Ex system, although at first glance it would be hard to believe that anything could be more efficient than that.
FCS can handle just about anything, I put together scenarios of rain, energy shut downs, union walkouts, overruns, demand increase post commenced projects, delivery date changes, weekends, holidays, force majuers, increased prices, material missed shipments. It can all be accounted for a re-scheduled without stopping production using these methods. When Nokia and Erickson lost the chips they needed, which were produced in NM and the fires burned down the Philips plant producing the chips last year. FCS would have saved Erickson, and perhaps they would still be in the cell phone business today, instead, huge write-downs unfulfilled orders and exiting of the market sector. Nokia would have been killed too, except they scrambled and produced half the demand necessary. Each company although would have been effected would have been effected less using these methods, that I am sure of. And producing a computer model to give the answers needed is possible because the computer can re-tabulate and change no matter how far from normal.
In wartime you create the fires in the enemies supply chain or distribution channels, which pissed off the FTC when Microsoft played out side the normal battle field of what was considered and went to the supply side to wage war, as skilled practioners of the game often do, but are seldom taught. Why would they not wage war there since they built the distribution channels in the first place? They were previous victories and trophies on the wall, and Netscape wanted them for free, even though they had a half a billion dollars in an IPO to build their own. In the civil war the North needed the rivers to move supplies and troops even though they were in the souths territory. Look at a disease, its job is to spread to procreate and take over living in its host, our job is to kill the disease since it will kill us first. It spreads anyway it can. To prevent it, it maybe necessary to think outside the box and quarantine an entire country like Africa until volunteer efforts can go and stabilize the situation, which might take 10 years. We have to kill its supply chain. Each time a person gets on a plane and travels to another place it spreads, that is its supply chain. You could actually build a finite capacity-scheduling model to determine when a disease will be eradicated or how a terrorist might attack the water supply of the US to kill the most number of people in the quickest time. Then by doing a reversal of the FCS scheduling you could easily find a way to combat such an effort or prevent its overall effect if not prevent its start. And knowing this why would you not use such a model on everything that is a system or process either to roll it out or prevent it.
Saddam continually knew that he had 90 minutes move surface to air sites and re-camouflage them, and to move aircraft while the satellites could not see them. Of course we also playing the game to maximum efficiency recommissioned some SR-71s for random fly bys during the 90-minute lapse. Unknown to them we had the advantage of superior knowledge of our enemies position. We effectively took the time out of his model. Nowhere to run, no time to hide. Bingo.
General Patton use to say an army moves on its stomach, well then move them further faster and feed them less between locations. The faster they move the more distance they travel between meals and therefore less food per mile. Precisely the objective of the FCS model. The book does point out that if the whole team is not on the same page then the FCS methods do not work. Look at the Battle of Midway where the Japanese were caught with their pants down. Guessing rather than playing it safe, Heroes have been made of hunches yet FCS scheduling would have prevented this error. They screwed up. We would have beat them anyway, but it would have come at a much higher price as in one or two of our carriers also. Ask our torpedo bomber hero, and former President George Bush Sr. he was involved in this type of tactical strategy at a very personal level. It almost killed him. 3 days in a tiny one-man life raft in the Pacific was bad enough plus throw in ditching a torpedo bomber in the water without flipping it when it has been battle damaged.
Will Rogers was quoted in this book when he said Common sense is not common. With that truth revealed. It is much easier to fix the problem, first admit you have the problem and then reason through a logical answer using ALL the facts. This is why I also recommend the book Total Capacity Management by CJ McNair and Richard Vangermeersch. It is interesting the differences cited in this book in types of capacity management in that you cannot predict total capacity management unless you have pushed the envelope to new heights and find that in fact the capacity was underestimated as new innovations occur out of necessity. Such as attempting to build more muskets in the North in the Civil War to arm the troops to fight the South. Remembering the at the same time the South was commandeering factories and turning them into war manufacturing plants to compete to arm their side. Total Capacity today is not the same as tomorrow when some lunatic entrepreneur goes and breaks all the norms and industry standards. Once the barriers of thought and the limits of time, space, distance and speed are reduced or increased then the boundaries of that industry are no longer relevant. It would also be interesting to consider that the total capacity of anything is everything or nothing, depending on how you look at it. As many motivational speakers will tell you with the connect the dot trick, make one cut trick or paper cut out trick. The glass may actually be bottom less and completely empty although to you it appears half full. In the instance of Gold Mining when raw dirt and rock are processed and what appears to contain no gold has over 8 ounces in it. And therefore if all the cubic dirt and rock where processed then the total capacity of that element within that area would be astronomical in economic terms. Problem is how to mine it efficiently and there in is the other Total Capacity problem. If one could convert lead into gold it sure would be easier, the total capacity of conversion would be the issue. These authors talk about tactical and operational management and define the two types. Operational being getting the supplies near the work stations to use, which in itself involves many vendors and who also have a scheduling systems to deliver as promised. Tactical involves the decision making process used to decide while flow of production is in process. I believe that FCS can be integrated into this process and improve it. There is one last component to add to move this to service based applications, such as with the car wash guys. By adding the e-commerce and real-time call center demands from customers and knowing that we can deliver a car wash in 30 minutes or less, keeping in mind that Tom Monahan had a bigger problem and that was making the Pizza, which had its own processes. Think of the simplicity for initiating the system. Now look at the possibilities of watching the process real-time with GPS, systems, on-line transactions, using a zone defense pattern which can change to man-to-man coverage with some or all of the fleet of units. Now add in the possibility of 24-hour operations washing multiple types of items, scheduled and known accounts and on the fly call in Absolutely, Positively has to be washed overnight. Is this impossible? No it is easy, but complex. Look at the 1-800 flower case-study, combine that with Fed Ex delivery, and Dominos Pizza computer system remembering the customers name and last order. Well do not stop here, Mr Walton was no idiot either, he knew what would sell and how much of it to whom and when. A life time of studying your market dynamics will essentially drive any man to act like that, think like him and come to the same conclusions.
With the whole World dirty and everything needing a wash and different elements being washed at different times, why would it not be possible to have crews on top of crews who had scheduled work and then fill in the gaps of any extra space. Total Capacity Management right? Yes in the service sector. Does anyone else do this? Yes a few companies one out of Austin Texas, which hauls dirt and does construction, another out of Sacramento and Bay area CA who does this to do short deliveries. But they are doing it half way. Richoccet in the Bay area has real time solutions for Palm PC users and it is easily possible to use the C-Store methods for keeping track of inventories to keep track of pizzas delivered, Fed Ex packages taken in or Inventory realized and real-time ordering as in 7-11. By adding in a center half back as in a soccer game to take care of the call in orders while the other crews handled the normal accounts, until which times scheduled crews reversed their positions and falled back on the increased call ins on a day before a three day weekend. Thus taking all the work and increasing cash flow and good will amongst customers by servicing everyones needs.
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