By Mike HartIn manufacturing companies, the expeditor is the hero, the firefighter, the “go to” guy who gets things done. When a key customer pushes for his order, the expeditor does whatever it takes to get the job out the door on time. We admire the expeditor and can’t imagin operating without him.
The Expeditor Gets the Glory
The expeditor gets the glory because his success is visible. That one big job got out on time and your biggest customer is happy.
Does the expeditor deserve the glory? If expediting is only done on an occasional basis,yes. But when expediting becomes the normal way of operating, the hidden costs far outweigh the benefits and the expeditor’s role should be questioned.
Expediting Is the Least Efficient Form of Manufacturing
In expediting mode, cost controls go out the window. You do what it takes to get material, even if you pay a premium price and incur overnight freight charges. Other jobs sit and wait while favored jobs go to the front of the line in each work center. Those other jobs then run late because they’ve been bumped. For every customer you make happy, two other customers are unhappy.
Some expediting will always be necessary, but it should always be the last resort. Expediting is the least efficient form of manufacturing. When it becomes the dominant mode of operation, you are in trouble if you have more efficient competitors.
Expediting is easy because you only have to focus on one job at a time. Planning is hard because you have to take into account all your jobs. What you do with one job affects the status of other jobs. Planning is about having material on hand when it’s needed and scheduling work centers so that they function in harmony instead of at cross-purposes.
Planning Is Where You Get the Big Payoff
In manufacturing, expediting is easy --, and costs a lot of money for the privilege. Planning is hard – but that’s where you get the big payoff. To improve your profitability, start by examining how much you rely on expediting versus planning.
Mike Hart is the co-founder and President of DBA Software Inc., a leading provider of manufacturing software for small businesses.