POLCA (Paired-cell Overlapping Loops of Cards with Authorization) is a card-based visual control system that manages the flow of jobs through the shop floor: at each operation, it controls which job should be worked on next to meet delivery targets. POLCA ensures that upstream operations use their capacity effectively by working on jobs that are needed downstream, while at the same time preventing excessive work-in-process (WIP) build-ups when bottlenecks appear unexpectedly.
POLCA is particularly suited to companies manufacturing high-mix, low-volume and customized products. Such companies struggle with long lead times, late deliveries, and daily expediting to meet delivery dates. ERP systems are not designed to deal with this highly variable environment, and add-on software such as Finite Capacity Scheduling systems can require complex installation. Also, the Kanban system does not work well with low-volume or custom production. POLCA has delivered impressive results in such environments. It does not require any complex software implementation: it can be used without an ERP system or it can seamlessly complement an existing ERP system.