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You Are the BottleNeck

Utilization Graph

One customer asked, “Could a resource to be underutilized and still be a bottleneck?” The person standing next to him incorrectly responded: “I don’t think that’s possible.” Yes, it is possible for an underutilized resource to be the delay. And it’s also possible to find out when its happening and if there is a repeating pattern. Read on to see how to uncover the hidden waste of waiting for a resource.

Utilization graphs show the average of how busy a resource is over their scheduled time.

What the graph doesn’t tell you is if the utilization is evenly distributed or packed into a few hours. And it doesn’t show if there is a recurring pattern? For example, it’s possible that a resource is swamped in the morning hours and then has nothing to do the rest of the day. Or it’s possible that a resource is working hard on Mondays and Fridays, but has nothing to do Tuesday through Thursday. When making improvements, it’s critical to know WHEN a resource is the cause of delays.

This level of analysis if fairly easy to implement if a single resource is attached to a single activity.

Level of Analysis

A variable could be used to monitor the queue before the activity. This monitor is set up by incrementing a variable on the route before the activity (with an input queue) and decrementing the same variable at the start of the action logic. After the simulation, plot the variable see the waiting

Variable Plot

But what if a resource group is assigned to many activities or conditionally assigned to entities? How would you find IF and WHEN the resource is a bottleneck and IF there is a repeating pattern?

Resource Pattern

Resource Bottleneck Mapping Solution

The Resource Bottleneck Mapping model object shows when the resource is the cause of backups. Each half-hour displays the percentage of time the resource group could be the bottleneck. The calculation is then summarized by day of the week to see if bottlenecking exhibits a weekly pattern.

Resource Bottleneck Mapping Graph

This graph shows that the resource group is overworked in the morning hours but has no work in the afternoon.

A cell painted red defines time when all of the resources were busy. The entire length of the simulation is analyzed, showing reoccurring patterns and problems. This “maxing of the resources” will cause waiting at one or more of the queues where this resource group works. Standard graphs make it difficult to see when the resource group is maxed out, but the new Excel graph makes identifying trouble spots a snap.

The new Resource Bottleneck Mapping model object provides the needed detail to find resource problems in seconds. It takes less than a minute to implement and provides the ability to find resource bottlenecking problems. The best part is that all new model objects come with your maintenance and support.

About the Author:

Scott Baird has been president of ProcessModel for more than 15 years. His focus has been to teach others how to improve processes dramatically. He has been successful in transferring these skills to over 200 companies, including ESPN, NASA, GE, Nationwide, Cendant, SSA and many more. Specialties: Group facilitation for process improvement, process design and simulation, simulation modeling, business management and training others to see opportunities. Scott loves to teach process improvement and has often been heard to say, “Of all the things I do, training others to improve processes is my favorite.” Scott is a father of four and a grandfather of eight. He is an avid woodworker, designing and creating presentation boxes. In his spare time, he volunteers in a college preparation program.

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