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Forecasting Part 1

Forecasting Part 1
Objectives of Forecasting The objective of this post is to impart some light on the uses and importance of forecasting and to get you acquainted with various forecasting techniques. And also to know how these techniques are used in decision making process. Nature of Forecast: A forecast is an estimate of an event which will happen in future – be it, demand of a product, rainfall at a particular place, population of a country, or growth of a technology. It is estimated based on the past data related to a particular event and hence it is not a deterministic quantity. In any industrial enterprise, forecasting is the first level decision activity before consolidating other decision problems like, materials planning, scheduling, type of production system. Forecasting provides a basis for co-ordination of plans for activities in various units of a company. All the functional managers in any organization will base their decision on the forecast value. So, it provides vital information for that organization. Classification of forecasts: Technology forecasts Economic forecasts Demand forecasts Technology Forecast Technology is a combination of hardware and software. Hardware is any physical product while software is the know-how, technique or procedure. Technology forecast deals with certain characteristics like level of technical performance, rate of technological advances. It is a prediction of the future characteristics of useful machines, products, process, procedures or techniques. TIFAC – Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council is an autonomous organization set up in 1988 under the Department of Science & Technology. In 1993, TIFAC embarked upon the major task of formulating a Technology Vision for the country in various emerging technology areas. Economic Forecast Government agencies and other organizations involve in collecting data and prediction of estimate on the general business environment. This involves the application of statistical models utilizing variables sometimes called indicators. Some of the most well-known economic indicators include inflation and interest rates, GDP growth/decline, retail sales and unemployment rates. This is used to predict future tax revenues, level of business growth, level of employment, level of inflation etc. Also, these will be useful to business circles to plan their future activities based on the level of business growth. Demand Forecast This gives the expected level of demand for goods or services. This is the basic input for business planning and control. Hence, the decisions for all the functions of any corporate house are influenced by demand forecast. Factors affecting demand forecast Business cycle Random variation Customer’s plan Product’s life cycle Competitor’s efforts and prices Customer’s confidence and attitude Quality Credit policy Design of goods or services Reputation for service Sales effort Advertising Hurry up! We are running short of...
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Just in Time Manufacturing

Just in Time Manufacturing
Just in Time Manufacturing Concept JIT Philosophy: With the progression in product-process technologies and the hybrid manufacturing systems, the Japanese have been perfecting a manufacturing system called ‘Just in Time’ or ‘JIT’. This JIT operating system is nothing but a production strategy that strives to improve business return on investment by reducing in-process inventory and associated carrying costs. The JIT purchasing system has emphasis on timing to supply materials just in time for use on the factory floor. Equally important emphasis is given to close and long term relationship with a few suppliers. The suppliers in JIT manufacturing are geographically closely located. Specifications: Producing and delivering finished goods ‘just in time’ to be sold Partly finished goods ‘just in time’ to be assembled into finished goods Parts ‘just in time’ to go into partly finished goods Materials ‘just in time’ to be made into parts. Loose specifications instead of rigid product specifications are used which leads to best use of supplier specialization and expertise for low cost and better quality. Frequent deliveries (daily deliveries) of small lots of exact quantities required are supplied directly to the shop floor avoiding large inventories, paper work and double inspection. The JIT system underlines the mutual confidence between buyer and supplier and long term relationship. This leads to investment by the supplier for the benefit of the buyer in terms of plant and equipment for improvement of quality, reduction of cost and shortening manufacturing lead times. Where does the responsibility lie? ‘The responsibility for the quality rests with the manufacturer of the part’ is the principle behind this Japanese practice. The primary responsibility for quality is transferred from quality control department to the production department. The quality control is considered a line function rather than staff function. The processes are designed to have less specialization on the part of workers. The physical layout is arranged in such a way that workers can operate two or three machines effectively and thereby become multifunctional. Good Quality First Time Every Time: Workers are organized in small closely linked groups thereby building team work. The production for each stage is planned in small lot sizes just meeting the needs of the subsequent stage. The system is such that even if one item produced is substandard, it would affect subsequent processes causing shortages and exposing the process or worker who has produced substandard item. This acts as a great motivator to produce good quality first time, every time. This also heightens the awareness among the workers about the inter dependence of processes. Taiichi Ohno, Father of the Toyota Production System saw this as an attribute rather than a problem. He used an analogy of lowering the water level in a river to expose the rocks to explain how reducing inventory showed where production flow was disrupted. Once bottle necks were exposed, they could be rectified or removed. Since one of the main barriers was rework, lowering inventory shoved each shop to improve its own quality. Just-in-time is a means to improving performance of the system, not an end. The result of the Japanese manufacturing system is quite pervasive in the areas of: Reduction in inventory Reduction in scrap Reduction in work Reduction in indirect costs Reduction in spare Reduction in administrative costs Increase in motivation of workers Increase in quality Better response to customers Better system flexibility and quicker response. What is kanban? Kanban is Japanese for “visual signal” or “card.” Toyota line-workers used a Kanban (i.e., an actual card) to signal steps in their manufacturing process. The system’s highly visual nature allowed teams to communicate more easily on what work needed to be done and when. It...
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Project Life Cycle

Project Life Cycle
Project Formulation and Project Life Cycle What is a Project? “A temporary endevour leading to a product / service or result ”  A project is any series of activities and tasks that: • Have a specific objective to be completed within certain specifications • Have defined start and end dates; • Have funding limits (if applicable); and • Consume resources (i.e. money, time, equipment).   Characteristic Features of a Project: • Has a mission or a set of objectives. Once the mission is achieved the project is treated as completed. • Has to terminate at some time or the other (temporary in nature)  • The project is one single entity and its responsibility is assigned to one single agency. • Calls for team-work, the members of the team may come from different organizational units, different disciplines, and   geographic regions. • Has a life cycle represented by growth, maturity and decay. • Is unique and no two projects are similar, even though the plants set up are identical. The organizations, the infrastructure, the location and the people make the project unique. • Change is a natural phenomenon with every project throughout its life span. Some changes may not have any major impact, but some  may change the very nature of the project. • The happenings during the life cycle of a project are not fully known at any stage. As time passes, the details are finalized successively. • Is always customer-specific. The requirements and constraints within which a project must be executed are stipulated by the customer. • Is a complex set of things. Projects vary in terms of technology, equipment and materials, machinery and people, work ethics and organizational culture. • A substantial portion of the work in a project is done by sub-contracting. The greater the complexity of a project, the greater will be the extent of work performed by subcontractors. • Is exposed to risk and uncertainty and the extent of these depend upon how the project moves through the various stages in its life span. • A well defined project has lesser risk and uncertainty, whereas an ill-defined project faces greater degree of risk and uncertainty. Project Life Cycle: The Project Life Cycle refers to a series of activities which are necessary to fulfill project goals or objectives. The different phases are as follows:   a) Concept or initialization phase In this phase, the project idea emerges and the #management decides on the need for a project. A project which is well conceived can be later implemented successfully. b) Project Definition Phase •The techno-economic viability of the project is checked •The technical configuration of the project is identified •The performance requirements, sub-systems, key equipments etc.- purchased •The cost estimates with limits are identified •Schedule of implementation is identified c) Growth or Organisation Phase Organizations, during this phase, undertake the following actions: a)    Establishing the infrastructure and enabling services for the project b)    Project engineering and design c)    Setting up Project Organization and staffing d)    Appointing a project manager e)    Preparing schedules and budgets f)    Obtaining necessary licenses and clearances from the Government g)    Raising finance h)   Developing systems and procedures for monitoring and reviewing project progress i)    Procedures for inviting tenders and awarding contracts j)    Site preparation and development k)   Procuring equipment and materials l)    Work packaging This phase covers both paper work connected with project planning and also implementation activities.  Planning is necessary to avoid crisis management; it makes the implementation phase to run smoothly. d) Implementation Phase The activities include: 1)  The preparation of specifications for major equipment and machineries, 2)  Placing orders with vendors for the supply of...
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The Need of Math in Management

The Need of Math in Management
Operations Research-Emphasizing the need of Math in Management Business is all about “demand versus supply”. And as is always the case, industries operate in a tight situation, with limited resources and heavy demand, trying to make the ends meet. The production of required quantity with the available resources needs an approach that is quantitative and logical as well. This can be obtained by weighing the odds and choosing the right kind of decision that suits your business plan, be it production, distribution, marketing, selling or any business situation, where there is a need to compare and contrast between alternating decisions, to arrive at an optimal solution. High end mathematical concepts in Operations: Operations research comes into the picture in such situations, wherein, high end mathematical concepts and models are applied to problem situations, to first define the problem and then extract the best possible solution by quantifying the resources available. Quantitative data is then converted into linear equations to maximize the productivity and profit. Profit maximization is generally aimed by most of the firms that operate with limited potential and operations research helps to achieve this through optimal use of the available resources. Application of Scientific Methods: The emphasis is on application of scientific methods, use of quantitative data, goals and objectives and determination of the best means to reach them. Once the data is collected, it is carefully evaluated and the relationship among data is established, which helps in defining the problems and goals. The problem is represented logically to decide the course of action. Say, for example, Linear Programming represents each and every problem situation in the form of a linear equation and tries to allocate resources in an optimal fashion. Alternate decisions are evaluated and the decision that yields the best result in terms of productivity and profit is considered. Measure of Effectiveness: How do you measure profit? The measure of effectiveness will be determining the rate of return on investment, and every possible solution can be weighed against this measure. Theories of probability are also used to predict the success rate of the combinations of variables executed in different ways. But one has to understand that only some variables are controllable and others are not. Say, if the economy experiences inflation or recession, your predictions will undergo a drastic review in purview of the fluctuations in the economy. Similarly availability of labor is always a constraint, either labor is not available or they demand more pay. Simplex Methods: Since voluminous data is involved, computers with multi processors are used to manipulate the data. Mathematical tools like simplex methods, integer programming, graphical methods, transportation and assignment techniques, simulations, game theory and queuing theory can be very well applied to solve complex problem situations with ease. Today’s business world demands more sophistication in terms of technical updations. Evolution of Opeartions Research Techniques: Operations Research dates back to the Second World War period, and the accelerated growth of this discipline in recent years can be attributed to the fact that, researchers have found this useful in solving economic and political problems too. At the same time, critics point out that, application of operations research proves advantageous only to those people who are accustomed to the usage of rapid computing machines and understand the complex mathematical formulae and relationships. Note: Energy: The oil industry was one of the earlier users of operations research techniques to help manage their refinery processes, and operations research technologies are heavily used by all the major oil companies. Manufacturing: Manufacturing organizations continue to use operations research to optimize factory operations. Transportation: Operations researchers execute logistics for air traffic control, trucking, and railroads. Real-time dispatching and delivery truck...
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Game Theory

Game Theory
Game theory and strategy What is Game Theory: Set of concepts designed for decision making in situations of competition and conflict under specified rules. The prisoner’s dilemma: The prisoner’s dilemma is a canonical example of a game, analyzed in game theory that explains why two individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interest to do so; Albert W. Tucker formalized the game with prison sentence payoffs and gave it the “prisoner’s dilemma” name.   To solve many practical problems that are encountered in economic, military or other disciplines, one has to deal with situations in which there are two or more conflicting parties striving for the same objective and the outcome of each action of one party depends solely on the opposite parties choice of a course of action. As we all know only one horse can win the race ultimately and the other parties only can prolong the race or see to that they make every possible move to delay the opponent’s success. So, what’s this game theory all about? This is a special mathematical method that was evolved mainly to analyze conflict situations where the number of competitors is finite, each participant has a definite set of actions to choose and there is a conflict of interest between the competitors. So it helped the participants to reach a decision that would put them in the winning post. This theory has spilled its implications on business situations where success is the motto and conflict and competition the order of the day. Only the best among the best survive. Darwin’s theory, “Survival of the fittest” applies not only to biological organisms but also to business organizations which are also abuzz with activity. Chance Moves: Games like chess, checkers are played according to a definite set of rules laid down and these game patterns has inspired business persons to introduce strategies in business, where the concentration is mainly focused on the chance moves that defeats the opponent. Big business corporates mainly concentrate on the strengths and weaknesses of their competitors to have an edge over them. A real game is controlled and regulated by the statutory rules to be followed but a business game involves lot of killer instincts and intuitions combined with rational thinking and logic. Optimal Strategy: The first party always puts himself in the shoes of the other party and tries to perceive how the other party would react in a particular situation. Although the aim is to win, choosing the optimal strategy is what matters. It will at least keep you in bay. Precise solutions can be arrived at if you plan your game fittingly. The anticipation and thrill that is involved in a strategic game is matchless. We witness a lot of firms imitating what the leader of the market does. The risk is borne solely by the firm introducing the change and the firm takes the major share of profit as it is the pioneer and if it loses the next strategic move is planned for.     For a company with sound financial position, the chance move is worth giving a try, head or tail doesn’t matter. The stalkers are benefited by the waiting period during which they come to know of the pros and cons of the strategy employed by the leader. Games are played in the true spirit of sportsmanship, but a business faces cut throat competition. There is no space for any courtesy or liberal approach. If you are quick enough to pick the pulse of the people by gauging their preferences, analyzing the market conditions and employing timely strategies you will at...
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