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can the powerful impact of a WCS provide tight integration between hardware, software, layout, process, and personnel, as well as maximizing materials flow and use of space while providing a flexible platform for future growth and change. All this experience yields measurable results—faster.” Integration activities must be streamlined to deliver benefits as quickly as possible. These activities include operation assessment, strategic planning, material handling design and implementation, WMS specification and selection, system integration & test, training, go live support, and post implementation audit. Successful integration will maximize materials flow, improve resource planning and decision support, increase storage capacity and throughput, and increase customer service and productivity. Companies seeking operational efficiencies in the warehouse often already have a well established lean initiative; they may even have a team dedicated to continuous improvement. Some have also added six sigma to their portfolio of tools, creating a lean six sigma initiative. Lynne Hambleton, author of the recently-published Treasure Chest of Six Sigma Growth Methods, Tools, and Best Practices, defines lean six sigma as an approach to emphasize improvement in the speed of a process by making “lean” its “non-value-add” steps. Developed in the manufacturing environment, the concepts of lean and six sigma have since expanded to multiple industries and applications. Its common metrics include zero wait time, zero inventory, line balancing, cutting batch sizes to improve flow, and reducing overall process time. By identifying categories of waste the WCS can operate with heightened effectiveness and efficiency. Hambleton suggests the acronym DOWNTIME to help recall the various areas of waste. D. Defects: Repairs and rework needed to get something to function properly, which slows the process flow and reduces first-pass throughput yield. O. Overproduction: Producing parts ahead of schedule (before a customer requests it or needs it) while other items in the process wait. W. Waiting: People wait unnecessarily because of shared equipment, unbalanced work activities, decisions, approvals, or inspections. N. Non-utilized people: Under-utilized resources, lack of empowerment, or too many workers in the process causing inefficient operations. T. Transportation: Moving parts or objects unnecessarily (including papers and files); excess travel distance, which also can waste time and equipment. I. Inventory: Excess space consumed by shelving, floor space, excessively wide aisles, accumulated in-process or finished goods, including parts waiting for rework or scrap storage. M. Motion: Excess, unnecessary, or non-valued people activities such as searching, walking, sitting, choosing, copying, stapling, sorting, climbing, and bending over. E. Excess processing: Unnecessary operations, steps (including inspection and approvals) and complexity (at times excessive documentation.) Since it is likely that more than 80 percent of tier one distribution warehouses will utilize a WCS by 2010, the ability to integrate lean concepts is critically important. “The lean philosophy is an important cornerstone of the six sigma approach and has contributed invaluable tools and techniques to create flow, eliminate waste, and strive for continuous improvement,” concludes Hambleton. October 07 Businessexcellence Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based manufacturing marketing firm 15 TR Cutler, Inc: www.trcutlerinc.com Supplychain

16 October 07 Businessexcellence Without the existing infrastructure of what used to be a sizeable mining community in the 1930s, Louis Wolfin and Bill Kocken would not be looking forward to their first gold bars from Bralorne Gold Mines. The mine has had a long and sometimes tortuous history, but the importance of its infrastructure has never been far from the surface. The west coast gold rush came to British Columbia in the late 1860s, attracting hundreds of prospectors from San Francisco to the Fraser Valley, north and east of the city of Vancouver. In 1896 Harry Atwood and William Allen staked claims for Pioneer Mine, east of Vancouver; Frank Kinder acquired a 50 percent share by promising to purchase and operate a stamp mill, which proved capable of crushing only about a hundred pounds of gold ore per day. Atwood and Allen, frustrated with the slow progress, withdrew from the partnership, leaving Kinder to operate on his own for the next six years, when he sold out to a syndicate for $20,000. In 1915, Pioneer Gold Mines Limited was incorporated. For the next decade the mine was producing, but it was examined and turned down by numerous companies who had no faith in its potential. In 1928 the nearby Lorne Mine was incorporated and a company town was formed. Although 60,000 tons of ore with proven value were discovered, in 1930 mining broker Stobie Furlong and Company ran into trouble, and under investigation of the market, declared bankruptcy. Financing on the Lorne Mine disappeared, and without new investment the project was doomed. In early 1931 a deal was reached with Balco Development and Investment Company to form a new company with the Lorne shareholders retaining an interest. Bralorne Mines Limited was incorporated in 1931, and a mill was constructed to handle a capacity of 100 tons of ore per day. In 1932 the first gold brick was poured at Bralorne; weighing 363 ounces, it was worth $6,217 at the time. In 1959 the two mines amalgamated to form Bralorne-Pioneer Mines Ltd under the direction of Franc Joubin; this move facilitated the development of holdings along their common boundary, and the combined working capital provided funds for exploration and expansion. However, rapid expansion sometimes proves costly, and in 1971, the cost of production overtook the market price of gold, which was $36 per ounce, and the Bralorne-Pioneer Mines were shut down. However, from 1932 until the closing, these mines produced 4.15 million ounces of gold— the largest amount in the Canadian Cordillera mountain region. The Bralorne-Pioneer mine property is an extensive holding of mineral claims and crown grants that includes the Bralorne Gold Mines Ltd (2,294 hectares or 5,668.6 acres) in the historic Bridge “Look for a gold mine where there already is a gold mine,” says Bralorne Gold Mines president Bill Kocken to Gary Toushek. With the infrastructure already in place, he hopes to be pouring gold bars by the end of 2008 Goldenassets