The Goal - Idling Workers and the Balanced Plant

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In Chapter 11, page 84 of The Goal, Alex meets with Jonah to discuss the efficiencies of his plant. Executives at UniCo measure plant performance based on "efficiencies," a ratio of the productivity of a given unit and the labor hours it uses. In order for his plant to look successful, Alex has been trained that idle workers equal decreased productivity and lost money and are therefore a bad thing.

Jonah, on the other hand, argues that, "A plant in which everyone is working all the time is very inefficient" (Goldratt, 84). According to TOC, if every business unit produces as efficiently as possible, inventory and operating expenses will climb while throughput declines. Alex has to make a decision: idle the workers and face decreased efficiencies or keep them working and damage throughput.

D: not idle workers
D': idle workers who do not positively contribute to throughput
B: have the high efficiencies executive management demands
C: ensure maximum throughput
A: keep the plant open
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In order to keep the plant open I must have the high efficiencies executive management demands and in order to have the high efficiencies executive management demands I must not idle workers. But, in order to keep the plant open I must also ensure maximum throughput and in order to ensure maximum throughput I must idle workers who do not positively contribute to throughput. I can't both not idle workers and idle workers who do not positively contribute to throughput.
RelationAssumption(s)Injection(s)
D-D'There is not another function idle workers can perform that would positively contribute to throughput.Workers idle in production can be cross-trained in other areas.
B-DIdle resources are not efficient.
Inefficient resources are wasteful.
Efficiencies indicate how well resources are being utilized.
Idle resources can be less wasteful that non idle resources.
Activated resources are more wasteful that utilized resources.
C-D'Non constraint resources that work to maximum efficiency increase inventory.
Increased inventory increases operating expenses.
Non constraint resources can be adjusted so that their maximum efficiency matches the minimum requirements of the constrained resource.
A-BManagement considers efficiency a key measure of a plant's profitability.
Inefficient resources decrease profitability.
Management is unwilling to consider other elements in a plant's performance.
A-CThe plant is in danger of closing due to decreased profitability.
Increased throughput increases profitability.
Higher throughput increases the plant's value to the company.
High throughput does not guarantee high profitability.
Throughput is not the only measure of successful business practices.
Because the plant represents one function of the company, it's increased value may deter the organization from its objectives (i.e. create specialization in an undesired field).