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The Practitioner's Guide to POLCA

Book Description

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.

This book:

  • Provides a step-by-step roadmap on how to implement POLCA; invaluable for both companies that wish to implement POLCA as well as consultants and academics advising such companies.
  • Explains the concepts in practical and easy-to-understand terms by showing detailed shop-floor examples.
  • Includes more than 100 illustrations for understanding how POLCA works as well as for elaborating on details of the implementation steps.
  • Contains case studies written by company owners and executives documenting their POLCA implementation process and the results achieved in various industries in six countries.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title Page
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright Page
  5. Dedication
  6. Contents
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. Part I Understanding POLCA
    1. Chapter 1 POLCA—Simple Yet Highly Effective: A Tale of Two Companies
      1. Overview of This Book
      2. Guide to the Reader
    2. Chapter 2 POLCA Explained: How It Works
      1. Introducing the MMC Factory Example
      2. Authorization Date and Authorization List
      3. Paired-Cell Loops of Cards
      4. Cell Team’s Decision on What to Work on Next
      5. Overlapping Loops
      6. Differences from MRP and Kanban Systems
      7. Putting It All Together with an Example
    3. Chapter 3 Operational Benefits of POLCA
      1. Tailored to High-Mix, Low-Volume and Custom Production
      2. No Complex Software Implementation Required
      3. Works With Your ERP System—or Without It
      4. Makes Effective Use of Capacity at Each Step
      5. Avoids Congestion and Excessive WIP Build-Up
      6. System Is Adaptive
      7. By Holding Off on Jobs the System Results in Multiple Benefits
      8. Provides Formal Framework for Improvement Activities
      9. Prevents Inventory Proliferation for Products with Low Demand
      10. Allows Complete Flexibility in Product Routings and Works Seamlessly for Custom Products
      11. Creates Customer-Supplier Relationships between Cells
      12. Installs a Visual System
      13. Builds on the Capabilities of People in the System
      14. Provides Fast Response through Decentralized Decision-Making
      15. Builds on Your Existing Structure and Systems
  9. Part II Implementing POLCA
    1. Chapter 4 Pre-POLCA Assessment, Prerequisites, and Preparation for POLCA
      1. Clarify the Motivation and Goals for Pursuing POLCA
        1. Check for Symptoms That Have Led Companies to Consider POLCA
        2. Review Your Company’s Operating Environment
        3. Set Your Goals
      2. Check These Prerequisites Before Deciding to Implement POLCA
        1. Review Your Shop Floor Organizational Structure
        2. Make Sure That You Have POLCA-Enabling Cells
        3. Engage in Effective Planning Before Control
        4. Limit the Occurrence of Material and Part Shortages
      3. Prepare for the POLCA Implementation
        1. Ensure the Availability of Authorization Dates and Lists
          1. Implementation Without Using an ERP System
          2. Implementation through Your ERP System
        2. Ensure That Manufacturing Metrics Will Not Conflict with POLCA Rules
        3. Secure the Upfront Understanding and Commitment of Management
    2. Chapter 5 Designing the POLCA System for Your Situation
      1. Create an Implementation Team and Designate a POLCA Champion
      2. Begin by Determining All the POLCA Loops
        1. Implementing POLCA throughout Your Shop Floor
        2. Do Not Include Stocking Points in the POLCA Loops
        3. Implementing POLCA in a Subset of Your Shop Floor
        4. Should You Put in Single or Multiple Loops for a Given Area?
      3. Lay Out the POLCA Chains
        1. Starting Point for the POLCA Chains
        2. Including the Lead Time for the Planning Cell
        3. Starting Points for POLCA Chains When Implementing in a Subset of Your Shop Floor
        4. Ending Points for the POLCA Chains
        5. Define the Procedure for Incorporating Outside Operations into the POLCA System
        6. Consider Whether You Will Use the Simpler Release-and-Flow POLCA (RF-POLCA) Version
        7. Situations Where Standard POLCA Is Recommended
      4. Decide on Details Related to the POLCA Cards
        1. Design Your POLCA Cards
        2. Decide on the Quantum—The Amount of Work to Be Done per POLCA Card
        3. Determine the Process for Returning the POLCA Cards
        4. Calculate the Initial Number of POLCA Cards in Each Loop
      5. Add the Finishing Touches with Some Final Details
        1. Identify the Triggers for Decision Time
        2. Hedging with Lead Time or with Cards?
        3. Adding Safety through Lead Time
        4. Adding Safety through Number of Cards
    3. Chapter 6 Accommodating Exceptions within the POLCA Framework
      1. Dealing with an Unexpected Shortage of a Component Part
        1. Introducing the Safety Card Concept
        2. Procedure When a Safety Card Is Available
        3. Adding a Shortage Tracker
        4. Procedure When a Safety Card Is Not Available
      2. Dealing with an In-Process Quality Problem
      3. Dealing with Machine Downtimes
      4. Expediting a Rush Job for an Urgent Customer Need
      5. Accommodating Schedule Changes Seamlessly
      6. Adjusting for Non-Synchronized Delivery of In-House Manufactured Components to Assembly
      7. Preventing Gridlock When Loops Form Cycles
      8. Summary: POLCA Accommodates Exceptions Smoothly
    4. Chapter 7 Launching POLCA
      1. Continue to Use the POLCA Implementation Team and the POLCA Champion
      2. Conduct Training for Everyone Impacted by the System
        1. Training for the Core Group
        2. Training for the Rest of the Organization
      3. Create a Standard Process for Secondary Activities Initiated by Decision Time Rules
      4. Schedule Frequent Review Sessions and Management Updates
      5. Have a Plan for Rolling Out Adjustments and Corrections
      6. Design the Checks That Will Ensure POLCA Discipline Is Followed
      7. Start Tracking and Debugging Key Metrics
    5. Chapter 8 How We Designed and Launched POLCA in Three Days
      1. The Setting: A Factory in Canada
      2. Day One: POLCA Overview and Factory Tour
      3. Day Two: Checking the Prerequisites and Some Initial Design
        1. Checking the Remaining Prerequisites
        2. Initial Design: The POLCA Loops
        3. Deciding on the Quantum
        4. Designing the POLCA Card
      4. Day Three: Final Design Decisions
        1. Defining the Decision-Time Rules and Exceptions
      5. Decision to Launch
      6. Postscript: Keys to Success and a Challenge to Others
    6. Chapter 9 Sustaining POLCA: Post-Implementation Activities
      1. Create a Steering Committee and Stay the Course
      2. Track the Key Metrics and Celebrate Successes
      3. Use Surveys and Feedback Forms to Assess the Qualitative Benefits
      4. Conduct Regular POLCA Audits
        1. Periodic Audits
        2. Random Audits
      5. Use POLCA to Drive Long-Term Improvements
  10. Part III Industry Case Studies
    1. Chapter 10 From the United States: Using POLCA to Eliminate Material Flow Chaos in an Aluminum Extrusion Operation
      1. The Start of Our POLCA Journey
      2. Experimenting with a Small-Scale POLCA Implementation
      3. System Design and Training
      4. System Startup and Early Results
      5. Extending POLCA to the Whole Factory
      6. What We Learned, and Advice to Other Practitioners
      7. Impact of POLCA on Our Organization
    2. Chapter 11 From Canada: Applying POLCA in a Pharmaceutical Environment
      1. Why Did We Pursue POLCA?
      2. The POLCA Kaizen Workshop
        1. Deciding on All the Fundamentals of the POLCA System
        2. Rules to Break Rules
      3. Senior Leadership Plays the POLCA Game
      4. Training, Training, Training
      5. The POLCA Boards and POLCA Dashboard
      6. Life with POLCA
    3. Chapter 12 From the Netherlands: Creating Flow and Improving Delivery Performance at a Custom Hinge Manufacturer through QRM and POLCA
      1. Section I: The Journey to POLCA
      2. I Get a Rude Wake-Up Call
      3. Our Initial Improvement Efforts
      4. The Pastry Shop Needs a Breakthrough
      5. Our First Step: The Rhineland Model
      6. We Are Introduced to POLCA
      7. Implementing the Color-Coded Visual System
      8. Initial Results from POLCA
      9. Section II: From Physical POLCA to Digital POLCA
      10. Implementing the Quantum through Load-Based POLCA
      11. Impact of PROPOS and POLCA on the Company’s Operations
    4. Chapter 13 From Belgium: Metalworking Subcontractor Reduces Lead Times by 85% Using QRM and POLCA
      1. Motivation for Rethinking the Shop Floor System
      2. Implementing the Stove Cell
      3. Introducing Color-Coded Visual Work Management
      4. Expanding to the Rest of the Factory with POLCA
      5. Customizing the System for Better Use of Scarce Resources
      6. Results: The People Side
      7. Results: The Commercial Side
    5. Chapter 14 From Poland: Dancing the POLCA in a Glass Factory
      1. The Factory and Process Flows
        1. The Cutting Operations and Resulting Inventory
        2. The Machining Department and Sequencing Problems
        3. Finishing Processes
      2. Initial Design of the POLCA System
        1. Initial POLCA Loops, Quantum, and Number of Cards
        2. Authorization Method
      3. Simplifying the Design: Moving to POLCA “Lite”
      4. Results of the POLCA Implementation
    6. Chapter 15 From Germany: Yes, Even Small Companies Can Benefit from Implementing POLCA
      1. Evaluating the Company’s Situation
      2. Opportunities and Challenges for Implementing POLCA
      3. Cell Formation and POLCA Launch
      4. Results from the Implementation
  11. Introduction to the Appendices
  12. Appendix A Introduction to MCT: A Unified Metric for Lead Time
  13. Appendix B Overview of Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM)
  14. Appendix C Perspectives on Applying MRP, Kanban, or Some Other Card-Based Systems to HMLVC Production Environments
  15. Appendix D Capacity Clusters Make High-Level MRP Feasible
  16. Appendix E The Sociotechnical Success Factors of POLCA
  17. For Further Reading
  18. Appendix F Experiences with Using a POLCA Simulation Game
  19. Appendix G Explanation of Formula for Number of POLCA Cards
  20. Appendix H POLCA: A State-of-the-Art Overview of Research Contributions
  21. References
  22. Appendix I Additional Resources for POLCA Training and Games
  23. Index
  24. About the Author