Managing a process is a lot like conducting a marching band: it involves leading highly-trained people using specialized equipment to execute complicated procedures at exactly the right moment. In a marching band performance, musicians play their instruments while marching through complicated patterns that create intricate designs. The musicians have to memorize both their music and their marching steps and then execute both simultaneously, following the cadence being given to them by their drum major. It’s an impressive feat of coordination and when it works well, the results can be awe-inspiring.
The same is true for your manufacturing process. Like the marchers in the band, each job follows a specific pattern as it moves from work center to work center. Like each musician has specific notes to play, each person on the shop floor has tasks that need to be performed in a specific sequence. And like the band moves to a certain cadence, the tasks at each workstation are structured to be performed in a set amount of time so that the workflows are efficient.
Of course, production lines don’t always perform like well-rehearsed marching bands. Parts deliveries can be delayed, the equipment can break down, or key employees may call in sick. Problems like these can disrupt the cadence of the process, causing work to back up and schedules to be missed. When those things happen, you need your employees to have tools and information that empower them to address the problem and keep work moving.