Ops/571 Week 4 Assignment

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Individual Assignment: Process Bottlenecks


Operations Management

A bottleneck in a process occurs when input comes in faster than the next step can use it to create output. The term compares assets (information, materials, products, man-hours) with water. When water is poured out of a bottle, it has to pass through the bottle's neck, or opening. The wider the bottle's neck, the more water (input/assets) you can pour out. The smaller or narrower, the bottle's neck, the less you can pour out - and you end up with a back-up, or "bottleneck."

There are two main types of bottlenecks:

1. Short-term bottlenecks - These are caused by temporary problems. A good example is when key team members become ill or go on vacation. No one else is qualified to take over their projects, which causes a backlog in their work until they return.

2. Long-term bottlenecks - These occur all the time. An example would be when a company's month-end reporting process is delayed every month, because one person has to complete a series of time-consuming tasks - and he can't even start until he has the final month-end figures.

Identifying and fixing bottlenecks is highly important. They can cause a lot of problems in terms of lost revenue, dissatisfied customers, wasted time, poor-quality products or services, and high stress in team members.

I work for a construction firm, and we provide construction services to many people, businesses, government and etc. We also own a trucking company that picks up, delivers and supplies construction materials, and we’ve recently had problems in the delivery process for one of our clients. The loading at their factory goes smoothly, but once our trucks arrive at the client's warehouse, the efficiency seems to tremendously fall apart. The trucks typically wait four to six hours before workers unload the cargo, and every minute that our trucks are parked and waiting it costs our company revenue.

I begin to investigate this issue to find...