One this that has always surprised me was that I never hear anything about TOC. I have worked in manufacturing for a while now and never see mm to have come across any company that has come out and said yes we run our operations based on TOC. Yet they will come out and say that they follow Six Sigma or Lean or Lean Sigma. Perhaps many people don’t know the benefits of TOC or where it fits in amongst the other tools.
Side note: it can apply to other areas other than manufacturing, it works with process flows for R&D. Basically any process that has a constraint can be improved by applying TOC first, then use some other tools.
TOC is at its basics a way of thinking. You think about processes in terms of its weakest point or it’s constraint. I like to look at it like a mathematical function f(x) =y to keep it simple. You put x into your function/process and you get out y. The only thing is as you improve the f or increase the x you will reach a point where you start always getting the same y value. Meaning you have hit a constraint.
Side note: some TOC sites out there might make constraints out to be bad or teach that you have to find it to remove it then find the next one and remove it, rinse and repeated over and over. This thinking is flawed. Constraints are good they will be in every process you might not recongnize it as one. So the key is to have the constraint in the right place and keep it there. Once you have that there are other steps you can take. (Topic for another post)
The first step in TOC is to find or locate your constraints. If you look at your processes there is an easy way to find them, go ask those who expedite orders or projects in your company, and where ever they go to move things along is a constraint. Processes may have more than one constraint so note that and I will discuss that later. For now just find it. A good way to start is with a process flow map or mapping out the process. Then where things tend to hang up in that process mark it on the map.
Side note: if you are having trouble locating the constraint/bottleneck of your process it might be an outside influence. By this I mean it could be the market and you never want it to be the market. It can also be the input into your process if it comes from another department or company. Just remember in these cases you would need to be able to complete your process faster than you receive product to make it such.
That is it for this post, but to refer back to the beginning of my post not many people know about TOC. And I believe it to be the foundation upon which other tools like Lean and Six Sigma can stand but without it as the base these tools create a lot of waste, don’t last, or dot achieve the desired results. So I want to share what I have learned about TOC with you.