"One issue after another keeps catching us. No sooner do we sit to relax after fixing one issue we get another one! We seem to be in a constant fire-fighting mode. We are always/mostly in a reactive mode rather than a proactive one." (quote from an example of running a business pre-ISO9001).
As you may known we were granted IS09001 certification last year. Certification involves establishing, maintaining and developing internal procedures.
What is ISO9001 all about?
Our sales order system is not processing orders as 'first come, first served' due to our overriding desire to be helpful and supportive. We have been guilty of taking onboard orders with impossibly short and unrealistic lead-times. This results in cash needlessly tied up in stock brought in too early, stress on staff who felt pressurised into working overtime, and time robbed from development and long range R&D.
Since 1991 we have used the same MPR system which completely manages the explosion of piece parts needed to turn sales orders into finished, packed sellable speakers. It is programmed with timescales and it knows exactly how much stock we have. It holds Bills of Material of the typically 60 lines of individual stock coded parts need for each speaker.
MPR tells us that on average since 1991, our lead-time from order in to speakers out is about 12 weeks. We order cabinets as and when we need them, plus a very small safety margin for damage or other unforeseen problems.
The ISO team have observed in Harbeth the global trend for Retailers and Distributors to push stockholding back up the chain to the manufacturer. The recent inspection has made it mandatory for us to redefine our role in the supply chain. In short, we at Harbeth UK are solely responsible for development and manufacturing.
Last week we turned the MRP system back to 'auto' mode and rescheduled production in line with our best calculation of actual production capacity. In the short/medium term we can not increase capacity, nor rush into employing more staff: we must retain QC standards as demanded by ISO9001. We are convinced that 'MRP on auto' is far more believable and reliable than 'Harbeth on manual'.
The reschedule has been sent in a simple graphical calendar format to all Distributors and has been revised three times in the past week as new orders have arrived and we have fine tuned the manufacturing cycle. We are at 100% production capacity until 3 July 2006; we have at least 16 weeks of orders in hand - and it is growing.
If your dealer or Distributor has orders in the pipeline, this will ensure deliveries to you as soon as the plan allows. That's the plus side. Second, if orders are not already logged with us, they will not be completed before July .... and that 16 weeks pipeline rolls forward daily. We have to demonstrate to the ISO inspectors that we are following their system to the letter.
It is a tribute to the great success of the Harbeth sound and the Harbeth sales network that at a time when the industry is in the doldrums we have a strong order book. But it is no surprise to us at Harbeth UK - we've been nursing this growing baby for years. All we can do is get on with managing our 1000 stock lines into the production of wonderful speakers for hungry customers.