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Theory of Constraints: Bottlenecks in Tube Manufacturing

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Bottleneck in a tube manufacturing process.

Explain Theory of Constraints and how bottlenecks can be managed.

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Hello Student,

The first thing you have been asked to do in your assignment is to explain the Theory of Constraints (TOC). In order to explain this theory you may note the following excerpt:

"The Theory of Constraints (TOC) is a philosophy of management and improvement originally developed by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and introduced in his book, The Goal. It is based on the fact that, like a chain with its weakest link, in any complex system at any point in time, there is most often only one aspect of that system that is limiting its ability to achieve more of its goal. For that system to attain any significant improvement, that constraint must be identified and the whole system must be managed with it in mind."
(Source: http://www.focusedperformance.com/toc01.html)

The Theory of Constraints may also be defined as, "a system improvement tool, which states that every system has one goal and it is achieved by many linked processes and out of those processes, one process acts like a bottleneck. So, this theory is utilized in order to remove that bottleneck and ultimately achieve higher productivity." An example of a bottleneck in a manufacturing process is if you have materials spending time waiting in between steps of the process. Also, another example of a bottle neck lies in the assembling operation, where if there are 5 stations and each station has different times for assembling e.g. 40 minutes, 50 ...

Solution Summary

This solution first defines the Theory of Constraints. It then provides information related to the benefits of the theory, before looking at how bottlenecks may be managed using Theory of Constraint applications and/or tools. This solution is adequately referenced.

See Also This Related BrainMass Solution

Bottleneck in a Process Described

See attached file for instructions

? Discuss the tube drawing process described below.
? Identify and discuss the main bottleneck in this process.
? Apply Goldratt's theory of constraints to identify and overcome process bottlenecks.


The flowchart above (see file) depicts one process for manufacturing metal tubing. Production capacities are listed in the following table.

Operation Machines Capacity
Ft / Day / Machine Operators Comments
Drill 1 3000 1 Supplier process
Inspection 3000 4
Insert Core 1 300 1
Draw 2 150 1
Anneal 2 150 2
Draw 2 150 1
Remove Core 2 50 2
Cut 1 50 1
Grind 1 100 1
Clean 2 150 2
QC 1 2000 4
Ship 2000 2

Process Description

Drill - Done outside by a contractor in New York. Our factory is located in California so shipping time is included in the capacity calculation.

Inspection - QC checks to see that we have received the right thing. If the tube is the wrong size, we put it back into stock (MRB) to see if there is something we can use if for later.

Insert Core - Insert a soft core in the tube so that it will maintain shape through the process.

Draw - Squeezes the tube through a die to reduce the diameter

Anneal - Heat treat the tube at high temperature to relieve stress

Draw - Reduces the tube diameter again

Remove Core - There are two machines available for this operation. If the core was not inserted properly, there can be yield problems or the time to process can be unusually long. With one machine it is only possible to remove core from 50 feet of tube each day. The machine to remove the core was designed by our engineers and the cost of a new machine is $20,000

Cut - There is only one saw to cut the tube. It can only cut 50 feet a day. A new machine would cost $150,000 but it would be able to cut 200 feet a day.

Clean - Cleaning is done manually. During cleaning operators also inspect the tubes for straightness and scratches. Adding cleaning stations would be relatively inexpensive.

Inspect - QC inspects the tubes for diameter, length, surface scratches and straightness. Ten percent of the lots are rejected and will either be sent back for rework or scrap.

Ship - Shipping has sufficient capacity but they need to wait for a minimum lot of 100 feet before shipping. At the end of the month wait time can slow things down.

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