Setting the Cadence of Your Pacemaker: A Lean Workbook for Reducing Mura

I am currently working on a visual workbook that translates my academic reserach on the Bullwhip Effect into a toolkit that practicing lean managers can read, understand, and apply to their own businesses.

For the last twenty-five years, I have thought of myself as an industrially inspired supply chain modeler. I have been working with the tools of computer simulation, mathematics, control theory, and stochastics. I built up a thorough understanding of how the structure of supply chains, forecasting methods, lead-times, and replenishment algorithms affect the dynamics of supply chains. I have written extensively on the Bullwhip Effect, how it manifests itself, causes business inefficiencies, and how to avoid it. I came to realize that my Bullwhip research was the key to reducing Mura and Muri wastes.

In my industry collaborations, I often found it useful to develop a Value Stream Map so that I could understand the material and information flow–this is essential background information for my Bullwhip reduction methodology. I had started to wonder whether I could extend the technique to capture the dynamics of the supply chain as well. Even more importantly I realized my theoretical work on the Bullwhip Effect was the science and mathematics behind the Pacemaker and the Heijunka Board. Thus, I embarked on this project to translate my Bullwhip research into the language that modern industrialists–logistics professionals, technical experts, and strategic decisions makers–can access and use. That is, I wanted to talk about my research in the language of Lean.

While I have tried to avoid mathematics as far as possible, and I certainly don’t offer academic style proofs, some mathematics is required (after all, mathematics is the language of the universe!). In the first chapter, value stream maps are used to document and understand the dynamic behavior of your supply chain. In chapter 2, a strategic review of replenishment decisions is given. Chapter 3 considers forecasting methods. Chapter 4 designs replenishment rules. Chapter 5 finalizes the production plan and discusses how to release it to the shop floor. The final chapter 6 advises on how to communicate call-off orders and provide future guidance to suppliers.

I hope to finish this workbook by September 2023.

Stephen Disney
Stephen Disney

My research interests involve the application of control theory and statistical techniques to operations management and supply chain scenarios to investigate their dynamic, stochastic, and economic performance.