Theory of Constraints

In 1984 Israeli businessman Eliyahu Goldratt publicized his new business theory, the Theory of Constraints, and it was the focal point of his new book titled "The Goal". The story follows the activities of a manager who has ninety days to save his manufacturing plant. He makes use of his new theory to help save the plant and the jobs of everyone who works there.

It starts with the concept of looking for the weakest link in a process. A complex process is just a series of connected activities, in which the weakest part can prevent the entire process from succeeding. Goldratt says that constraints are present in many forms: the process itself, someone within it, machinery or policies. Once constraints are identified they can be completely eliminated or the process can be improved enough so the constraints aren't a factor.

Two key areas of potential constraints are deadlines and multitasking. For example, with multitasking when someone is pulled off one task to do something else, the first task falls behind while the new task is rushed, thereby introducing opportunities for mistakes and oversights. Goldratt believed that imposed deadlines were often intentionally "padded" to give people extra time between tasks due to fear that if they finished too soon they would be given shorter time-frames in the future, or if a task was finished early they'd be accused of creating unreliable estimates. Therefore, his position was that it's best to set deadlines without worrying about constraint which may never materialize, and instead have a plan how to manage constraints which actually appear during the process.

Building upon his Theory of Constraints, Goldratt continued to focus on improving workflows while eliminating (or at least reducing) constraints, eventually leading to the concept of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM). CCPM calls for "buffer time" to be collected and placed at the end of each critical part in a project instead of between each and every task. As the critical parts of the process are completed the entire project path is then recalculated, based on if the tasks were finished on-time or delayed for any multitude of reasons.

Like Lean and SixSigma, the Theory of Constraints and CCPM are concepts to apply toward achieving larger goals:

• Increased profit

• Fast improvement

• Improved capacity

• Reduced lead time

• Reduced inventory

The Theory of Constraints offers a simple yet powerful approach to continuous process improvement, and is something which every Lean and Six Sigma practitioner should know about. Utilizing this theory along with other Six Sigma approaches aimed at reducing waste during plastic injectionmolding manufacturing and operations, NS-K actively embraces every method possible to deliver exceptional quality every day. Get in touch withus today for more info!

Posted On:
December 2, 2022

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