Accurately determining the appropriate stocking levels of perishable items is very important. Stock too few items and you will have disappointed customers. Stock too many and you’ll have unsold product - which has a high probability of turning into a loss.     

A number of industries face this dilemma each and every day.

WIP-to-SWIP Ratio

The WIP-to-SWIP ratio is a simple comparison of a process, line or cell’s actual work-in-process count versus its standard work-in-process inventory (SWIP). Among other things, a process’ target condition reflects the consistent execution of standardized work, including SWIP maintenance (which is why it should be a leader standard work audit point). No SWIP maintenance, no standardized work adherence. Accordingly, the target WIP-to-SWIP ratio is 1. 

Having trouble deciding what to do?

Some lean math can help!

Resources are not infinite. Often we have more improvement opportunities to work on than we can accommodate. A simple but powerful prioritization matrix can help us sort things out. 

First, record the countermeasure for each opportunity (a.k.a. problem) on its own individual Post-it Note®.  Then, typically, as a team, arrange the Post-its on the following matrix according to expected impact (as “measured” against things like team KPI targets or kaizen event targets) and how quickly they can be implemented.

Blocking, not to be confused with the type that exposes one to the risk of physical injury, is a REALLY clever way to run experiments.

Blocking can be thought of as grouping experimental runs. And when experimental trials are grouped, interesting things can happen - not the least of which is you can really increase your signal to noise ratio.

Consider the following operational life data from Company ABC:


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