Example #2 – Delays in Custom Order Shipments

A custom window blind manufacturer was experiencing production delays of up to seven days, more than double its normal lead time.  Pressure was mounting on the production team to do something about the problem, and it seemed that everything was going wrong at once.

After a few weeks of chaos and frustration, the plant manager decided to take a more organized approach in addressing the lead time issues.

As his first step, he pulled his team together and created a fishbone diagram to organize the major causes behind the delays:

fishbone diagram example - delays in custom orders

Once the fishbone diagram was complete, the plant manager assigned owners to the top problem areas as follows –

  • Materials Planning – establish higher safety stock levels for custom materials in the warehouse, and create a daily report to show inventory levels versus minimum targets
  • Purchasing – negotiate shorter lead times and/or consignment inventory for purchased components
  • Human Resources – Begin conducting exit interviews and addressing the causes driving employee turnover
  • Maintenance – Begin tracking machine downtime, and implement a preventive maintenance program

The fishbone diagram was instrumental in pulling the team together and assigning ownership to the top problem areas.

After five weeks the team’s short-term measures brought the lead times back within the one-week average, and subsequent projects reduced lead times to less than three days over the next year.