Managing Work Flow to Decrease Cycle Time

Article

Barlog, Roman J.; Ginn, Dana K.   (1994, ASQC)   Amoco Oil Company, Whiting, IN 46394

Annual Quality Congress, Las Vegas NV    Vol. 48    No. 0
QICID: 10160    May 1994    pp. 683-691
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Article Abstract

Amoco Oil Company's Whiting Refinery used physical models and systems thinking to improve performance and reduce the time required to complete projects. Their approach manages the flow of knowledge products, such as engineering designs, in the same way as the flow of products from other production systems.

A team of engineers collected several years of cycle time data for projects characterized by high complexity components that dynamically interacted. The team then reduced the number of projects in the system at any given time in order to reduce the highly interactive complexity components. These efforts created a simpler, more stable system that allowed progress at a more steady, relaxed pace. As they gained an understanding of bottlenecks, the team also improved flow rates by developing a macro-view flowchart of their operations. The flowchart identified imbalances and rework loops, which were corrected by managing the flow of the engineering work based on the idea of bottlenecks.

Management accepted all of the team's recommendations and, as a result of the new procedures, 80% of the group's projects were completed in approximately half the time they required previously. Also, the group was able to work on other large projects, valued at over $100 million, that would normally have been contracted to an outside design firm.

Keywords

Amoco Oil Company,Case study,Cycle time,Teams,Flowcharts,Process improvement,Engineering


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