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An Introduction to Plan for Every Part or PFEP in Lean Manufacturing

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

What Is a PFEP, a Plan for Every Part?

A “Plan for Every Part” or PFEP in lean manufacturing is the ultimate goal of lean engineering. Under the a plan for every part system, no part is produced without a planned use. And PFEP is implemented under lean inventory management systems so that there is a minimum of inventory on hand, in order to prevent parts sitting in stock very long or the product being changed in the meantime, rendering the parts obsolete.

What are the constraints on the PFEP system? What are the requirements for a plan for every part plan system being put in place? And do you have to have a plan for every part to accomplish a lean manufacturing shop?

PFEP isn't possible if your suppliers don't approach 6 sigma quality levels.

PFEP isn't possible if your suppliers don't approach 6 sigma quality levels.

Requirements for a Plan for Every Part System

A plan for every part system requires detailed inventory tracking so you know what you have at each moment and where every item is, so you don’t end up ordering extra because you can’t find the last batch of a particular component.

A plan for every part implementation requires a well developed and tightly integrated supply chain. If every part has a plan, you plan on very little inventory on hand. This means manufacturers must have just in time delivery system at best. PFEP requires very consistent lead times and smooth delivery systems at a minimum, so that parts arrive exactly when you need them in perfect condition.

A plan for every part can be used with nearly any product mix, but a highly variable product flow makes it almost impossible to avoid excessive inventory of commonly used parts unless you have an on-demand supply chain.

The Limits of the Plan for Every Part System

The plan for every part system requires careful supervision of lead times, manufacturer batch sizes and the most economical lot size for ordering. If any of these data values are incorrect in your system, you either waste time on the shop floor waiting for a part delivery, wasted money buying small lots when larger ones are cheaper or losing time waiting for a manufacturer to build what you need because you’ve ordered parts more often than they can deliver it. This is why PFEP is almost impossible to do with any business without an MRP system.

And the extra work tracking inventory levels, supplier lead times and so forth increases the cost of managing your supply chain unless you reduce the number of components you use via standardization, like Aldi’s grocery store did.

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PFEP does not work when there is poor material or subassembly quality. While the components don’t have to have Six Sigma quality levels, you cannot use PFEP if five percent of the parts are bad. Nor can you use PFEP if you regularly have to rework parts resulting in some scrap.

A plan for every part that doesn’t utilize a supply chain drawing from the immediate area is at risk if it is shut down by a dock strike or traffic jam as parts being delivered across down are delayed. PFEP requires careful freight utilization, as well, or you’ve shifted waste from the warehouse to under-utilized trucks and extra trips to and from suppliers.

A plan for every part can be implemented with manufacturers do periodic redesigns, but it does not work well when every product must be customized unless the customization is accomplished by physical processes (painting, etching, embroidering) or JIT delivery of components like custom made phone cases.

A PFEP system needs to include a returnable container loop or reusable containers, or else your minimized inventory system with many small lots leads to a major disposal problem at the end.

Better organizing the inventory and workspaces you have per 5S principles can eliminate waste without the redesign of processes PFEP requires.

Better organizing the inventory and workspaces you have per 5S principles can eliminate waste without the redesign of processes PFEP requires.

Alternatives to the Plan for Every Part System in Lean Manufacturing

You can implement many facets of lean supply chain and lean manufacturing without moving to the “plan for every part” model.

This can be done by studying your overage amounts in the MRP system and modifying it to reflect actual defective part rates and shifting to higher quality suppliers. You can implement a kanban system to put parts near the assemblers, only refilling that from inventory and ordering new inventory when the last kanban bin is dropped off.

You may need to change your designs to allow for more variance in components. Or study your processes to improve manufacturing quality so that fewer things are made with defects.

You can achieve significant savings by studying your internal material flow, reducing travel time between stations and inventory. And this doesn’t require engaging your suppliers as PFEP does.

Streamline internal workflows and eliminate wasted time and effort on the shop floor, which again has significant potential to save money and increase productivity without revamping your material requirements planning system or altering its settings.

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