March 19, 2004
F.W. Murphy Manufacturing Co. has spent the last few years trying to squeeze out waste and increase flexibility in its factory operations. But its initiative, with roots in lean manufacturing, still relies on some very manual processes.
That could change. PeopleSoft Inc. last week upgraded its EnterpriseOne software, adding features to help companies build products to actual demand rather than forecasts. That includes supplier self-service portals that support real-time inventory alerts and production-schedule sharing. It also includes a "Kanban" lean-manufacturing procurement module to enable pull-based replenishment at each stage of the assembly process and a demand-scheduling execution app to match manufacturers' and customers' forecasts and schedules.
There's still room for improvement in order-cycle times, VP Myers says.
Photo of Mitch Myers by Bill Welch/Getty ImagesA PeopleSoft customer, F.W. Murphy has cut order-cycle times in its pressure-products division from 10 days to four. But there's room for improvement, VP of operations Mitch Myers says. The $50 million-a-year instrumentation and control-systems manufacturer no longer relies on fixed work orders to replenish inventory, but most manufacturing software doesn't support a lean-manufacturing model that's dependent on real-time data instead of bulk production forecasts and where inventory is replenished only when it falls below certain levels. Some suppliers still come to F.W. Murphy's plant to gauge inventory levels. "If we can do that electronically [through PeopleSoft's portal], the whole process is much more efficient,'' Myers says. Oracle and QAD Inc., among others, all have some lean-manufacturing software tools. But Mike Dominy, a senior analyst with the Yankee Group, says PeopleSoft is one of the first to identify the applications that need to be brought together to build a complete program around lean manufacturing.
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