February 13, 2005

Random Musings on SSM assignment

Right, I've just been looking at other people's NMOR folders (and even in one case an MNOR folder) and nobody's written anything in them. So I thought I'd be the first.

I'm trying to do this SSM assignment but, like most people it appears, I'm not really sure what I'm doing. The Factory Manager (who fails to appear on the Organisation Chart) wants us to provide him with a report 'making argued recommendations on how to proceed'. Apparently the inspection is unsatisfactory because the number of complaints too high, which costs them time, effort and money.

This raises two points straight away: firstly, are we just allowed to fiddle with inspections, or the whole factory? Let's presume we can fiddle with the whole set-up as we seem to have very little useful information about the present inspection practices. Secondly, are complaints really costing them that badly? The company performance chart show roughly a 50% rise in the numbers of complaints over the last two years, yet the cost remains the same. The money going into complaints is less than a tenth of the money going into inspections, so any improvements in inspections must be very sparing on the extra cash needed. However, you look at the volume of production over the past two years, then it's been dropping off increasingly rapidly. It looks like the complaints are costing them business! Combine this with the fact that the prices per unit of raw materials have been increasing every year and we can see their profits are dropping rapidly. In fact their pre-Tax profits are only half of what they were four years before!

If we look at the breakdown of complaints, then clearly the major problem area is 'Faults overlooked by inspection' (64%!). The next highest one is 'Failure to achieve effect while meeting spec.' at 20%. This is rather worrying. It's also a little confusing as to whose fault it is – are we grading things wrongly or do we just have retards for clients who don't actually know what they want? Let's presume that it's our fault. After all, the customer's always right. This means that our specifications are wrong, and it's the responsibility of the Specification Committee to set them.

One more thing I'm going to mention before I go to bed is that it states on page 2 of the assignment that 'the inspection organisation is independent of the Technical Services Department and Production Department in order to eliminate bias'. However, looking at Organisation Chart 1, both the Chief Inspector and the Production Department answer to the Works Manager, and the Laboratories who do the actual testing are directly subordinate to the Production Department, while the Technical Services Department is further removed from the Inspectors. The Technical Services Department are supposed to be dominant on the Specifications Committee, so the Inspectors apparent ties with the Production Department may be causing problems for them, in the way of conflicting interests.

Anyway, these are just some things I've thought about concerning the assignment. I'm a little worried about the usefulness of the stuff I've written as I haven't used SSM anywhere, which according to the marking criteria wouldn't even qualify me for a mark in the 40–49% range. Feel free to comment as you wish, I'm off to bed as I'm supposed to having a Valentine's meal with my girlfriend and she'd probably appreciate it if I was awake for it.

I: Tired Nick —> T: Sleep —> O: Rested Nick
W: Sleep helps me rest

- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Hi,
    Don't know why you're worried sounds like a good place to start from to me – so what would a 'specification setting'? look like ( to you at this point) – to argue to the FM (or even Works Manager?) that there is a need to see if it is happening?

    Luckily there is always 15th am for the modelling..

    13 Feb 2005, 14:39

  2. Thanks for this. I'm think I'm gradually getting to grips with what it is we're doing. I'm going back to the start again now and doing the RDs and CATWOE analysis, but I'm worried I'll run out of time. Haven't technically written any of the report yet, but the Appendices are steadily growing. Ho-hum. Went to bed gone three this morning and I know it'll be a whole lot later on tuesday morning.

    13 Feb 2005, 15:11

  3. ivan

    im currently where you were when you posted last night, only its 11pm monday night, fortunately (now thats worrying) im not going anywhere this valentines so i guess ive got a fair bit of time to get cracking. got a rich picture done and a catwoe or two, not too sure whether ill be splitting the problem into two components or now. another "interesting" thing to consider is that the pre tax profits are labeled in £ as opposed to £m, obviously a typo but who knows. maybe an oversight led to that and an infinatesimal drop in costs will magnify proffits by millions of percent. if you factor in the recycle and rejection costs with the inspections complaints sum less than 2% of that on average (though increasing in the final year to just over that) id like to have some idea as to the structure of the problem, and exactly what the rich picture is meant to be referring to (mines currently a blend of real world and modelled situation, so its wrong in any case). good luck with the work, i know i need it more than you but still… if you have any questions post them here or on the blog itself if you want a little discussion. ill be around and checking every so often for the next few hours. hope the dinners going well (it seems procrastination sometimes leads to insight)

    14 Feb 2005, 23:02

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