Monday, February 13, 2012

Focus and Leverage Part 90

For those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis, you have seen my piping diagram to demonstrate the concept of the system constraint.  You will recall that the piping diagram that I have been using looks like the following.

A good friend of mine, Philip Marris who owns and operates Marris Consulting out of Paris, France also uses a piping diagram, but does so in a much better way in my opinion.  In fact, his company’s logo, which is protected internationally as his company’s trademark, is a different form of the piping diagram that I use.  Here is Philip’s company’s logo:

Philip’s consulting company is a Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma (TLS) consulting company and he has had amazing results improving companies.  I have taken Philip’s logo, and with his permission, have created my own version.  The reason I like Philip’s rendition of the piping diagram is that to me it more clearly allows the student to understand the concept of the constraint.

My rendition of this piping diagram consists of 9 different pipes, each with different diameters.  Water is gravity fed through this series of pipes starting in Section A, flowing through Section B into Section C and so forth until it is collected in a container at the bottom of the piping system.  The figure below is the system with no water flowing.

In the next figure, we introduce water into this system and it flows downward through each of the pipes until it exits into the awaiting container.
The reason I like Philip’s version of the piping system, rather than the one I have been using is that it is more graphic in demonstrating where the water accumulates.  That is, the system constraint becomes obvious.  In this drawing Section E is the constraint and in order to improve the throughput of water, we must focus on and exploit Section E.  By enlarging the diameter of Section E (exploiting it) we see the effect.  The constraint has moved to a new location which is easy to find because water accumulates there.  In the next figure, I demonstrate the flow of water after the diameter of Section E has been enlarged and the water flows faster.  How large you make the new diameter is completely dependent upon how much more water is needed.
I want to thank Philip for allowing me to use his concept and to remind everyone that his logo is protected internationally as his company’s trademark.  Remember, the key to improving throughput is to first, identify the system constraint and then decide how to exploit it.  This simple diagram demonstrates this concept quite well.

Bob Sproull


Jim Bowles said...

This diagram is good for conveying the idea of a physical constraint. And relates well to the idea of improving flow.
But doesn't it fail to get across the importance of other constraints?

As Dr Lisa repeatedly says the main constraint to an organisation obtaining more goal units is the way people think.

Bob Sproull said...

Jim, if you've read my other posts you would have known that I have covered that subjects many times. This was only an attempt to demonstrait the physical constraints that exist within a system. As I have written about, most constraints are not physical at all, they are related to the policies, procedures, metrics, etc. that exist within an organization. But thank you for your comments.