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The Goal (Goldratt E M)

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198

ing, we could make those tables interchangeable. That way we could stack a load of parts in advance and switch loads with the use of a forklift. If it saves us a couple of hours a day, that means we can do an extra heat of parts over the course of a week."

I look from the furnaces back to Mike. I say, "Mike, I want you to take tomorrow night off. We'll get one of the other fore- men to cover for you."

"Sounds good to me," he says with a grin. "How come?" "Because the day after tomorrow, I want you on day turn. I'm going to have Bob Donovan put you together with an I.E. to write up these procedures formally, so we can start using them round the clock," I tell him. "You keep that mind of yours work- ing. We need it."

Later that morning, Donovan happens by my office.

"Hi, there," he says.

"Well, hello," I tell him. "Did you get my note on Haley?"

"It's being taken care of," says Bob.

"Good. And let's make sure he gets some more money out of this whenever the wage freeze is lifted," I say.

"Okay," says Bob as a smile spreads across his face. Then he leans against the doorway.

"Something else?" I ask.

"Got good news for you," says Bob.

"How good?"

"Remember when Jonah asked us if all the parts going through heat-treat really needed it?"

I tell him I remember.

"I just found out that in three cases, it wasn't engineering that specified heat-treat. It was us," says Bob.

"What do you mean?"

He explains that about five years ago some group of hot- shots were trying to improve the efficiencies of several of the machining centers. To speed up the processing, the cutting tool "bite" was increased. So on each pass, instead of shaving a chip that was a millimeter thick, the tool took off three millimeters. But increasing the amount of metal taken off on each pass made the metal brittle. And this necessitated heat-treating.

"The thing is, the machines we made more efficient happen to be non-bottlenecks," says Bob. "We have enough capacity on them to slow down and still meet demand. And if we go back to

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the slower processing, we don't need the heat-treat . Which means we can take about twenty percent of the current load off the furnaces."

"Sounds fantastic," I tell him. "What about getting it ap- proved by engineering?"

"That's the beauty of it," says Bob. "We were the ones who initiated the change five years ago."

"So if it was our option to begin with," I say, "we can change it back any time we want."

"Right! We don't need to get an engineering change order, because we already have an approved procedure on the books," says Bob.

He leaves shortly with my blessing to implement the change as soon as possible. I sit there marveling that we're going to reduce the efficiency of some operations and make the entire plant more productive. They'd never believe it on the fifteenth floor.

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24

It's a Friday afternoon. Out in the parking lot, the people on first shift are getting into their cars to go home. There is the usual congestion at the gate. I'm in my office-minding my own busi- ness-when suddenly, from through the half-open door... BAM!

Something ricochets off the ceiling tiles. I jump to my feet, check myself for wounds and, finding none, search the carpet for the offending missile. It's a champagne cork.

There is laughing outside my door. In the next instant, it seems as though everyone is in my office. There is Stacey, Bob Donovan (who holds the bottle from which the cork came), Ralph, Fran, a couple of the secretaries, and a swarm of other people-even Lou joins us. Fran hands me one of the styrofoam coffee cups she's dispensing to everyone. Bob fills it from the bottle.

"What's this all about?" I ask.

"I'll tell you in the toast I'm g ing to make as soon as every- one has something to swallow," says Bob.

More bottles are opened-there is a case of this stuff-and when all the cups are filled, Bob lifts his own.

"Here's to a new plant record in shipments of product," he says. "Lou went through the records for us and discovered that until now the best this place has ever done in a month was thirty- one orders shipped at value of about two million dollars. This month we topped that. We shipped fifty-seven customer orders with a value of... well, in round numbers, we'll call it a cool three million."

"Not only did we ship more product," says Stacey, "but, hav- ing just calculated our inventory levels, I am pleased to report that between last month and now, we've had a twelve percent net decline in work-in-process inventory."

"Well, then, let's drink to making money!" I say.

And we do.

"Mmmmm... industrial strength champagne," says Stacey.

"Very distinctive," says Ralph to Bob. "Did you pick this out yourself?"

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"Keep drinking. It gets better," says Donovan.

I'm just about to hazard a second cup when I notice Fran beside me.

"Mr. Rogo?"

"Yes."

"Bill Peach is on the line," says Fran.

I shake my head wondering what the hell it's going to be this time.

"I'll take it at your desk, Fran."

I go out there and punch the blinking button on my phone and pick it up.

"Yes, Bill, what can I do for you?"

"I was just talking to Johnny Jons," says Peach.

I automatically grab a pencil and pull over a pad of paper to take down the particulars on whatever order is causing us grief. I wait for Peach to continue, but he doesn't say anything for a second.

"What's the problem?" I ask him.

"No problem," says Peach. "Actually he was very happy."

"Really? What about?"

"He mentioned you've been coming through lately for him on a lot of late customer orders," says Peach. "Some kind of spe- cial effort I guess."

"Well, yes and no. We're doing a few things a little differently now," I say.

"Well, whatever. The reason I called is I know how I'm al- ways on your case when things go wrong, Al, so I just wanted to tell you thanks from me and Jons for doing something right," says Peach.

"Thanks, Bill," I tell him. "Thanks for calling."

"Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou," I'm blith- ering to Stacey as she parks her car in my driveway. "You are a truly wonderful person for driving me home... and I truly meant that truly."

"Don't mention it," she says. "I'm glad we had something to celebrate."

She shuts off the engine. I look up at my house, which is dark except for one light. I had the good sense earlier to call my mother and tell her not to hold dinner for me. That was smart because the celebration continued onward and outward after

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Peach's call. About half of the original group went to dinner to- gether. Lou and Ralph threw in the towel early. But Donovan, Stacey and I-along with three or four die-hards-went to a bar after we ate and we had a good time. Now it is 1:30 and I am blissfully stinko.

The Mazda for safety's sake, it still parked behind the bar. Stacey, who switched to club soda a couple of hours ago, has generously played chauffeur to Bob and me. About ten minutes ago, we nudged Donovan through his kitchen door where he stood there bewildered for a moment before bidding us a good evening. If he remembers, Donovan is supposed to enlist his wife later today to drive us over to the bar and retrieve our vehicles.

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