• Unit 2: Process and Service Design Capacity Management

    This unit deals with a fundamental problem for managers of either a production process or service delivery, namely, how to meet changes in demand. As demand for a product or service increases (decreases), production must also increase (decrease). Designing the capacity to scale up (or down) quickly and efficiently is key to successfully meeting demand.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 11 hours.

    • 2.1: Evaluating Production and Service Systems

      Production systems require resources to coordinate the complex series of moving parts. These can include raw materials, physical equipment, and human resources to maintain production control. Specifically, there are two critical aspects in the production which are routing and scheduling. As previously mentioned, the customer is driving much of the supply chain process. From a business perspective, efficiently managing this process is also working to successfully manage external customer expectations, internal time frames, and associated relationships. Supply chains fulfill a dual role of acknowledging customer demands as an input while also moving goods and services to market as an output

    • 2.2: System Design and Economies of Scale

      For a range of output levels, as output quantity increases, the cost per unit decreases. This is the definition of Economies of Scale. The proposition is that a company can experience substantial growth if it can expand its audience base and capture greater market share. Doing so generates a unique competitive advantage for an organization, whether a manufacturer or service-based organization. This competitive advantage allows the company to scale its production to meet demand while strengthening its brand to offer new products to existing customers. Successful companies that have been able to scale their business over time may eventually experience diminishing profits. It is at this point in a product life cycle that it becomes a challenge for supply to keep up with demand, and internally the human behavior dynamic emerges as its force. Here leaders and managers must channel the human component with its business model to diversify their offerings to the public to maintain their market share.

      • 2.2.1: More on Economies of Scale

        Manufacturers are looking to scale or increase production beyond local markets. However, interestingly enough, a single city, under certain circumstances, can also exhibit economies of scale. In essence, both manufacturers and cities strive to group activities together in closer proximity instead of spreading them out to increase speed and efficiency. Variable costs associated with manufacturing are a function of production levels. Consequently, leaders and managers constantly seek alternate production technologies to lower variable costs. New and emerging processes help in the continuous effort to reduce costs and boost profits. However, every new process or technology which reduces costs in the short term will eventually reach a point of increasing marginal returns where per-unit costs rise as production increases. All costs vary over time. While short-run costs for factories such as land and machinery are fixed, in the long run, all inputs are variable. Because of this dynamic, manufacturers must manage daily operations and constantly look for ways to improve long-term viability.

      • 2.2.2: Priorities and the Role of Buffers

        Historically, stocking inventory in anticipation of shortages was a common practice for many firms. Price stabilization is a relatively new phenomenon that promotes and maintains market equilibrium. One global example is the crude oil industry. Physical inventories are maintained to act as a buffer to meet the uncertainties of supply and demand. Specifically, safety stocks are extra inventory to absorb variability in customer demand. However, a buffer stock is meant for storage in an attempt to stabilize prices. Both are intended to essentially hold excess inventory.

    • 2.3: Little's Law

      Little's Law is a queueing theory that refers to the relationship between the time to produce a job, the time it spends in a queue, and the amount of time an item takes to be processed. It looks at entire systems to analyze resource shortages, competing priorities, and addressing too much work in process. When work is introduced into the system faster than the current throughout, queue times will eventually increase. Increasing queue times in regard to logistics could potentially mean the customer will not get their order on time or, worse, a lost sale altogether. From an operational perspective, organizations want the least amount of wait time possible in every part of the process. Increasing wait times means wasted resources and time, affecting many downstream activities.

    • 2.4: Flow Analysis

      Material flow analysis, or flow analysis, can be understood as a systematic assessment of materials flowing in and out of a particular entity. This analysis works to increase performance, reduce operational costs, and eliminate waste. By quantifying workflows, a business can understand its capacity balance through measurements or statistical analyses.

      • 2.4.1: Flow Diagrams

        Flow diagrams, also commonly known as flowcharts, are a visual representation of a process flow. While there are many different uses, these diagrams are utilized to bring order to a complex system and reveal how all the parts are connected to the whole.

        • 2.4.2: Capacity, Throughput Time, and Cycle Time

          Capacity, as it relates to production, can be thought of as the amount or volume a manufacturer can produce with its available resources. Furthermore, throughput is generally defined as the rate of production at which an item is processed. Finally, cycle time refers to strategic planning efforts such as initiation, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing.

        • 2.4.3: Product and Process Layouts – Line Balancing

          While a product layout requires repetitive production on an assembly line, a process layout arranges the workflow around the overall production. Meaning similar tasks are grouped together and then moved on down the line for the next set of steps. Line balancing is also commonly known as assembly line balancing, which deals with minimizing cycle time while maximizing smoothness.

      • 2.4.4: Bottlenecks

        Bottlenecks exist in production systems and cause serious problems within the system. By examining the source of a bottleneck, a facility can begin to understand why it is being constrained in this particular area. Furthermore, once identified, upstream and downstream activities can be modified to allow for a more efficient flow.
      • 2.4.5: Process Analysis and Gantt Charts

        A Gantt chart is a bar chart used to visually map out a project timeline. In general, it can list critical tasks to be performed along with deadlines. Gantt charts are helpful in communicating goals, objectives, progress, and upcoming activities that could possibly impede progress.

      • 2.4.6: Throughput and Bottleneck Factors

        A bottleneck refers to a congestion point in a production process. The overall intent of identifying a bottleneck is to ensure throughput is not adversely affected. It is assumed that virtually every system contains some production- or human-related bottleneck.
    • Study Guide: Unit 2

      We recommend reviewing this Study Guide before taking the Unit 2 Assessment.

    • Unit 2 Assessment

      • Receive a grade