Something that has always been a bit of a pain for us is ordering material. The responsibility for looking at the technical drawings and working out what was required has always fallen solely on Rob’s shoulders. But this just added to his already-bursting-at-the-seams workload! We knew there had to be an easier way to work out our material requirements based on our orders. And it also had to be done in a way that anyone could take charge of it, not just Rob. But we also didn’t want to have to start spending out on computer software. So we set out to come up with a really simple, free, Lean ordering system.
How did we set up our Lean ordering system?
We use Microsoft Excel for absolutely everything so knew this would be a great starting place.
We started off by looking at each of our customers and made a list of every whole product they purchase from us. Then we broke each product down into their individual components and created a column which listed the material it was machined from. Rob worked out what quantity of material was required per component and then made another column showing how many were on order.
Then using Excel’s auto-sum function, it automatically calculates the length of material to be ordered. And we’ve even made it so it rounds up the quantity required to the nearest full bar length. The information can then be copied and pasted straight into an email to send to our supplier as an order- we even have a handy email link for each of our contacts next to the material that they supply for us.
And if that wasn’t easy enough, every customer has their own worksheet which we have made into shortcuts on our home screen- no wasting time scrolling and searching!
How much of a benefit has the Lean ordering system been?
I won’t lie, this did take a while to set up! But after that initial investment of our time, we are really feeling the benefit of our new Lean ordering system. Any new products can simply be added to the relevant customer’s worksheet and by having colour coded instructions at the top of the sheet, anyone could just walk in off the street and use it.
Rob, Nicola and the Team
nb. apologies that the pictures are not very clear. If you would like me to send some additional information or pictures over please let me know using our contact form!