Root Cause Analyses of Problems Facing Denver Facility

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Background information

Hawthorne Corporation is a manufacturing company that is based in the United States. The company sells its products to different parts of the world and has annual sales averaging $10 billion. The company deals with petrochemical products and is one of the pioneer companies in this field. To facilitate in production and distribution of its products, the company has established numerous facilities across the country. One of its production and distribution facilities is located in Denver. This facility has been rocked by numerous problems ranging from distribution problems and issues to do with the quality of products manufactured in this facility. This paper aims at digging deep into the operational processes in the facility to identify the root cause of these problems and come up with recommendations on measures to be taken to improve operations in the plant.

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Root cause analyses

Dispatching process

One of the departments in the facility that leads to distribution problems is the dispatching department. The process of dispatching is managed based on transportation scheduling with occasional readjustments to cater for any contingency. This requires the affected carriers to be issued with a four-hour notice. The remaining fraction of dispatch is organized by customers through their respective carriers or using contracted carriage facilities. The issue of allowing customers to organize for dispatch is one of the factors that have led to the company experiencing problems in the distribution process. This is because customers send their trucks to the facility based on how their inventory is being used up. At times, these trucks will appear on the premises with invoices that have not been communicated to staffs in the Denver facility. This compels the respective staff to quickly leave whatever they are doing to respond to these customers. The facility has to ensure that it maintains its reputation by not letting customer trucks wait for long in the premises. Consequently, the process of dispatching gets mixed up in the process as staffs stops other dispatch processes to respond to those of customers that come unannounced.

To facilitate in improving the dispatching process, the facility needs to come up with a viable dispatching time table to be followed. It requires asking its customers to always fax their invoices prior to sending their trucks. This is to give the dispatching department an ample time to organize for all dispatch processes of specific day. A viable dispatching schedule will also help the facility avoid cases having to reschedule its product pick-up times (Christopher, 1999, p. 103). This is because every carriage will be aware of its time thus ensuring that it avails itself on time.

Transportation and Scheduling

It has become too difficult for the plant to come up with an effective transportation schedule. This is because it is difficult to predict the day when the plant will receive more trucks. Every truck visiting Denver facility is expected to move from one production unit to another picking its required products. The truck spends different times on every production unit based on the quantity of product being loaded and speed of staffs loading the truck. Consequently, it becomes difficult to predict the time a truck will spend from one unit to another thus becoming hard for the facility to come up with an effective transportation schedule. Impatience from drivers, leads to them moving from one loading facility to another. Eventually these drivers will have to go back to the loading facilities they skipped. In the end, they lead to some loading facilities being congested. This makes it hard for the company to follow a specific program when loading. As Mr. Hamm claims, most of the customers who deal with the facility inspect their inventories on Monday and determine the products to order for. They come up with a purchase order and release their trucks to the plant to collect the required products. They do not give the company’s management team time to identify the products they require, the number of trucks that will be received on a specific day thus organize for transportation modalities. This results to the plant being clogged with a lot of unexpected trucks making it hard for the management to cater for them effectively.

To effectively come up with transportation schedule, the persons responsible for organizing for transportation need to come up with a plan. Every customer need to be assigned specific day and time when he or she is expected to come for products. Customers should also be asked to be sending their invoices two to three days prior to them coming for products (Christopher, 1999, p. 104). This will facilitate in eliminating delays experienced in the facility thus ensuring that all transportation processes are well controlled. If a customer fails to come on time, he or she should wait till all the other customers are served. This will help in ensuring that customers do not order for goods in an ad hoc manner and that they do not send their trucks at any time they feel like.

Quality Control Laboratory

This is the department responsible of ensuring that all the products sold by the company meet the required standards with respect to quality. The laboratory ensures that all the received raw materials meet the established quality standards before being allowed into the company. In addition, it ensures that all products leaving the production unit meet the required quality standards. It is also responsible of handling processing problems arising in the middle of a production process. From the look of the thinks in the company, it is evident that work in the process (WIP) materials receives limited attention and are addressed if time permits. This is in most cases during the night shift. Consequently, one of the factors that led to the company not ensuring all its products meet the set quality standards is failure to monitor WIP during the day shifts. Some errors occurring during the day can not be corrected as the materials are not assessed. The fact that staffs in the Laboratory are occupied with a lot activities make them prioritize processes. Consequently, some processes go unmonitored making it hard for them to identify breach in quality.

To successfully ensure that all quality requirements are observed in the facility, it is imperative for the organization to come up with a mechanism of division of labor. Different staffs in the laboratory need to be assigned to different quality control processes (Cooper, 2000, pp. 93-97). This will ensure that the all quality requirements are addressed at all times in the facility.

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Production Units and Operational Departments

The company has numerous production units and operational departments. All of them are managed by competent managers and also have employed qualified staffs. Despite this, they have been found to also contribute in affecting the quality of products manufactured in the company. Each department has three shifts. Communication between the staffs responsible for the different shifts is poor. As a result, every shift in the respective department seems to follow its own production procedure. There is no uniformity with respect to production procedure followed by all the shifts. Failure to have a clear communication on the production process between different shifts makes it hard for the incoming shift to proceed from where the other one left. This leads to the quality of products being compromised as subsequent shifts makes alterations on production process. Communication between the various production departments and laboratory is minimal. In every shift, samples that require to be analyzed are taken to laboratory twice. This makes it hard to ascertain the quality of the production process.

Ensuring that all shifts in each production department follows the same production process would facilitate in ensuring that all products coming from any production unit are of the required quality. The company requires coming up with standard production process to be followed in every production unit. This then require to be communicated to all staffs. In addition, the company needs to come up with a mechanism where by staffs from the shift leaving operations has ample time with those taking over so as to brief them on the far they had gone in specific production process (Ernst, Jiang, Krishnamoorthy & Sier, 2004, pp. 3-13). This will lead to uniformity in production process. The management teams in the various production departments need to ensure that their departments have standard production procedures and that the procedures are obeyed by all shifts.

Product Loading Facilities and Operations

There are a lot of overheads incurred in these facilities leading to complications in distribution process. With every loading facility being located nest to its respective production facility, all customers are required to move around the factory from one loading facility to another. Cases of trucks reporting to the wrong loading facility leads to dispatching process being affected as these trucks take time to leave the loading facility and give others a chance to be loaded. All the calculations involved in determining the amount of materials to be loaded in every truck also consumes a lot of time that could be spent in loading thus eliminating cases of traffic congestion in the company.

As the company has been operational for a long time, it is aware of the most requested amount of material as well as the standard types of trucks that are sent to collect the materials. Hence, the company needs to come up with records showing the standard depth of materials when pumped into a specific tank for the various tanks that come to the factory as well as the volume of different materials. This will help in ensuring that once the tare weight of the truck is recorded, it directly moves to loading without having to do more calculations to determine the volume or depth of the materials (Cooper, 2000, pp. 98-103). This will help in ensuring that every truck spends minimum time in the facility thus reducing traffic. In addition, all the facilities need to be named after the products they manufacture. This will help in ensuring that every driver report to the right loading facility hence avoiding cases of having to wait for a truck to leave a facility.

Product Loading of Polyols

One of the greatest problems with loading polyols is failure by the company to get the required mixture standards of the product. As the company sells varied customized polyols to different automotive industries, the industries require different mixtures of products comprising the polyols. The way in which the mixtures of these products are loaded into the tanks leads to the different types of products forming layers rather than getting mixed up. Eventually, the products fail to effectively mix up leading to poor quality of polyol. This makes it hard for automotive industries to come up with the desired quality of products despite being supplied with all the required products in the polyols. Asking derivers to go around the company making sudden stops does not facilitate in mixing up the products. Instances of trucks going around the company up to four times without succeeding have been witnessed giving a clear indication that the method used in mixing the various materials used in production of polyols is not effective.

To ensure that all polyols send to customers meet the required quality, Denver facility need to look for an alternative way of mixing the products. The facility ought to build a tank where the different products will be effectively mixed before being loaded to the respective trucks to be delivered to automotive industries. In addition, the company needs to purchase mixing machine to facilitate in ensuring that all materials are effectively mixed to get the required final product.

Recommendations

Based on the finding corrected from the different departments found in the supply chain of the company, there are various corrections that need to be done so as to streamline the supply process. To make the dispatching process effective, all customers need to ensure that they furnish respective departments with their purchase orders prior to them sending their trucks to correct the products. The company needs to come up with a transportation schedule outlining the order in which trucks will be received into the facility. To make it effective, every customer need to be assigned a specific day and time when he will be expected to collect his or her products. This will minimize cases of trucks showing up in the facility without the company being aware. There is need for division of labor in the quality control laboratory (Ernst, Jiang, Krishnamoorthy & Sier, 2004, pp. 14-20). This is to ensure that all processes are attended thus avoiding cases of some processes being completed without ascertaining their quality.

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Communication between the various shifts working on a specific project is essential. This is to ensure that every shift can pick from where the previous shift reached and go on with the process without alterations. Consequently, every production department needs to educate its staffs on the procedures to be followed when producing specific product. Staffs from the different shifts also need to spend some time when changing from one shift to another. This will help the incoming shift understand how far a production process had gone thus proceeding from there. Establishing standard volumes and depth of materials for specific materials will help in reducing the time spent in loading every truck. The company also needs to come up with standard equipments for measuring products. An alternative method of mixing products used to produce polyols is required so as to ensure that various products used effectively mix. This can be achieved through buying a mixing machine or having a tank where products are mixed before being loaded into tanks.

For all the above recommendations to be achieved, the company needs to bestow the responsibilities to managers of the different production and loading departments (Ernst, Jiang, Krishnamoorthy & Sier, 2004, pp. 21-27). They will be responsible of ensuring that all the recommendations have been implemented in their respective departments.

References

Christopher, M. (1999). Logistics and Supply Chain Management: Strategies for Reducing Cost and Improving Service (Second Edition). International Journal of Logistics Research and Applications, 2(1), pp. 103-104.

Cooper, R. G. (2000). The dimensions of industrial new product success and failure. Journal of Marketing, 43(15), pp. 93-103.

Ernst, A. H., Jiang, H., Krishnamoorthy, M. & Sier, D. (2004). Staff scheduling and rostering: A review of applications, methods and models. European Journal of Operational Research, 153(1), pp. 3-27.

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