Book review on Finite Capacity Scheduling, Part II

Now add ten more car wash trucks, with the corresponding work to be done and add two more shifts to each truck to achieve maximum capacity and what do you have? 12 hours worth of scenario scheduling and moving around resources to see what fits best. What if a computer did it in 20 minutes? It can you know. Even though Swartzkoff has an IQ of 165 it does not mean he does not need to use the finite capacity scheduling methods to help him arrive at the most efficient scenario. It just so happens that it will work and he can use his brainpower to decide which scenario will work based on his knowledge of human motivation which may or may not be computer ready, based on the battle at hand. Another reason why it is not such a bad idea to send unmanned fighter planes into a battle zone to fight and why it is necessary to have a missile defense system set up at our perimeters. FCS scheduling works in all the tests our strategic team has placed on it from a Blitz marketing mission to a customer response system for services real time using e-commerce. FED Ex does use a finite capacity approach to overnight package delivery. It does not look like one on the surface yet it most certainly is. As teams of people use all resources at hand and move the flow real time to the next job as completed. All with such precision that it is truly predictable to schedule. Impossible? Go to Memphis at midnight and take the $200.00 tour. Every President of the US should go see it once. Every executive of every company who wants to be here in five years ought to see it. Few companies do it as well as Fed Ex. I believe the FCS model taken to its fullest could actually increase the Fed Ex system, although at first glance it would be hard to believe that anything could be more efficient than that.

FCS can handle just about anything, I put together scenarios of rain, energy shut downs, union walkouts, overruns, demand increase post commenced projects, delivery date changes, weekends, holidays, force majuers, increased prices, material missed shipments. It can all be accounted for a re-scheduled without stopping production using these methods. When Nokia and Erickson lost the chips they needed, which were produced in NM and the fires burned down the Philips plant producing the chips last year. FCS would have saved Erickson, and perhaps they would still be in the cell phone business today, instead, huge write-downs unfulfilled orders and exiting of the market sector. Nokia would have been killed too, except they scrambled and produced half the demand necessary. Each company although would have been effected would have been effected less using these methods, that I am sure of. And producing a computer model to give the answers needed is possible because the computer can re-tabulate and change no matter how far from normal.

In wartime you create the fires in the enemies supply chain or distribution channels, which pissed off the FTC when Microsoft played out side the normal battle field of what was considered and went to the supply side to wage war, as skilled practitioners of the game often do, but are seldom taught. Why would they not wage war there since they built the distribution channels in the first place? They were previous victories and trophies on the wall, and Netscape wanted them for free, even though they had a half a billion dollars in an IPO to build their own. In the civil war the North needed the rivers to move supplies and troops even though they were in the souths territory. Look at a disease, its job is to spread to procreate and take over living in its host, our job is to kill the disease since it will kill us first. It spreads anyway it can. To prevent it, it maybe necessary to think outside the box and quarantine an entire country like Africa until volunteer efforts can go and stabilize the situation, which might take 10 years. We have to kill its supply chain. Each time a person gets on a plane and travels to another place it spreads, that is its supply chain. You could actually build a finite capacity-scheduling model to determine when a disease will be eradicated or how a terrorist might attack the water supply of the US to kill the most number of people in the quickest time. Then by doing a reversal of the FCS scheduling you could easily find a way to combat such an effort or prevent its overall effect if not prevent its start. And knowing this why would you not use such a model on everything that is a system or process either to roll it out or prevent it.

Saddam continually knew that he had 90 minutes move surface to air sites and re-camouflage them, and to move aircraft while the satellites could not see them. Of course we also playing the game to maximum efficiency recommissioned some SR-71s for random fly bys during the 90-minute lapse. Unknown to them we had the advantage of superior knowledge of our enemies position. We effectively took the time out of his model. Nowhere to run, no time to hide. Bingo.

General Patton use to say an army moves on its stomach, well then move them further faster and feed them less between locations. The faster they move the more distance they travel between meals and therefore less food per mile. Precisely the objective of the FCS model. The book does point out that if the whole team is not on the same page then the FCS methods do not work. Look at the Battle of Midway where the Japanese were caught with their pants down. Guessing rather than playing it safe, Heroes have been made of hunches yet FCS scheduling would have prevented this error. They screwed up. We would have beat them anyway, but it would have come at a much higher price as in one or two of our carriers also. Ask our torpedo bomber hero, and former President George Bush Sr. he was involved in this type of tactical strategy at a very personal level. It almost killed him. 3 days in a tiny one-man life raft in the Pacific was bad enough plus throw in ditching a torpedo bomber in the water without flipping it when it has been battle damaged.

Will Rogers was quoted in this book when he said Common sense is not common. With that truth revealed. It is much easier to fix the problem, first admit you have the problem and then reason through a logical answer using ALL the facts. This is why I also recommend the book Total Capacity Management by CJ McNair and Richard Vangermeersch. It is interesting the differences cited in this book in types of capacity management in that you cannot predict total capacity management unless you have pushed the envelope to new heights and find that in fact the capacity was underestimated as new innovations occur out of necessity. Such as attempting to build more muskets in the North in the Civil War to arm the troops to fight the South. Remembering the at the same time the South was commandeering factories and turning them into war manufacturing plants to compete to arm their side. Total Capacity today is not the same as tomorrow when some lunatic entrepreneur goes and breaks all the norms and industry standards. Once the barriers of thought and the limits of time, space, distance and speed are reduced or increased then the boundaries of that industry are no longer relevant. It would also be interesting to consider that the total capacity of anything is everything or nothing, depending on how you look at it. As many motivational speakers will tell you with the connect the dot trick, make one cut trick or paper cut out trick. The glass may actually be bottom less and completely empty although to you it appears half full. In the instance of Gold Mining when raw dirt and rock are processed and what appears to contain no gold has over 8 ounces in it. And therefore if all the cubic dirt and rock where processed then the total capacity of that element within that area would be astronomical in economic terms. Problem is how to mine it efficiently and there in is the other Total Capacity problem. If one could convert lead into gold it sure would be easier, the total capacity of conversion would be the issue. These authors talk about tactical and operational management and define the two types. Operational being getting the supplies near the work stations to use, which in itself involves many vendors and who also have a scheduling systems to deliver as promised. Tactical involves the decision making process used to decide while flow of production is in process. I believe that FCS can be integrated into this process and improve it. There is one last component to add to move this to service based applications, such as with the car wash guys. By adding the e-commerce and real-time call center demands from customers and knowing that we can deliver a car wash in 30 minutes or less, keeping in mind that Tom Monahan had a bigger problem and that was making the Pizza, which had its own processes. Think of the simplicity for initiating the system. Now look at the possibilities of watching the process real-time with GPS, systems, on-line transactions, using a zone defense pattern which can change to man-to-man coverage with some or all of the fleet of units. Now add in the possibility of 24-hour operations washing multiple types of items, scheduled and known accounts and on the fly call in Absolutely, Positively has to be washed overnight. Is this impossible? No it is easy, but complex. Look at the 1-800 flower case-study, combine that with Fed Ex delivery, and Dominos Pizza computer system remembering the customers name and last order. Well do not stop here, Mr Walton was no idiot either, he knew what would sell and how much of it to whom and when. A life time of studying your market dynamics will essentially drive any man to act like that, think like him and come to the same conclusions.

With the whole World dirty and everything needing a wash and different elements being washed at different times, why would it not be possible to have crews on top of crews who had scheduled work and then fill in the gaps of any extra space. Total Capacity Management right? Yes in the service sector. Does anyone else do this? Yes a few companies one out of Austin Texas, which hauls dirt and does construction, another out of Sacramento and Bay area CA who does this to do short deliveries. But they are doing it half way. Richoccet in the Bay area has real time solutions for Palm PC users and it is easily possible to use the C-Store methods for keeping track of inventories to keep track of pizzas delivered, Fed Ex packages taken in or Inventory realized and real-time ordering as in 7-11. By adding in a center half back as in a soccer game to take care of the call in orders while the other crews handled the normal accounts, until which times scheduled crews reversed their positions and falled back on the increased call ins on a day before a three day weekend. Thus taking all the work and increasing cash flow and good will amongst customers by servicing everyones needs.

Tips For Travel Through Europe Using European Train Travel

If you want to travel through Europe and are wondering how to get about, travelling by coach or train is going to be your best bet, especially if you are from the US and intend visiting the United Kingdom. The EuRail schedule is quite accommodating for most countries and is easy to use, but it is wise to plan ahead if using European train travel not only for peace of mind, but to save your cash for those souvenirs.

Why? If you live in the US most of the roads are quite wide and straight. In the UK, if you come off the motorways (which you will have to do), the roads are often narrow, winding, and hilly. There is of course the added ‘benefit’ of having to stop suddenly because of the odd herd of cattle or sheep crossing! Cyclists are another problem that many International visitors are not used to dealing with. Therefore, unless you are experienced in driving yourself in the UK, you are advised to use the British Rail travel system or coach services.

Getting around on the British Rail travel system can be a bit daunting as the trains frequently run late, are overcrowded at certain times and are not always that fast. That said, the service has improved significantly over the last few years and there are much fewer problems. If you already plan to travel through Europe using the rail systems, then you will find the British Rail staff are usually friendly and helpful and most of the trains comfortable with the usual facilities including dining cars for that all important snack.

By using the EuRail schedule, you can book online easily using whatever currency available to you and a EuRail pass will let you travel seamlessly through countries in Europe excluding a few countries such as the UK and Switzerland where you will have to book separately. Booking separately in individual countries can also be completed online and will again save you time and money. This is bound to be the best option if you only wish to visit two or three countries.

European train travel is of course hampered a little by the lack of complete unification and the differences between the countries in terms of the development of the rail systems. Germany for example, has one of the best services in the world and you can now whizz between France and the UK via the Channel Tunnel. This is far better and faster than having to travel on the ferries. Hopefully, when you travel through Europe you will have no problems, but if you are prepared to do a little research and book ahead then your trip should be much smoother and more enjoyable.

Adventure Travel in South America – Ecotourism, Mountain Trekking, Surf Camps and Culture

Ecuador provides a brilliant backdrop of geography, culture and ecology for those travelers looking to get off the well trodden tourist path and explore a country still considered a virgin on the tourism front. Not yet mollified by the Cancun-esque pollution that accompanies exploited tourism destinations, this ecological wonder is considered a mega-diversity hot spot on the planet. If its culture you seek, you will have your hands full. From the coastal fisherwomen of the Mangroves, the indigenous tribes of the Amazon such as the Shuar and Huarani, to the ancient Quechua peoples of the Andes, Ecuador is comprised of a stunning diversity of cultures. All this wrapped up in a country the size of Colorado which makes it possible to explore the Amazon Jungle by morning and be sitting beachside by evening, passing through the breath taking volcano views as you head west over the Andes.

Not only is this a country rich in natural resources but it is never short on international distinction capturing the eye of environmental research and controversy alike. Ecuador seems to be at the epicenter of key global issues with international mitigators such as Amazon Watch (who is leading the fights against Chevron oil contamination in the Amazon) stepping in to do their part in global conservation, focusing on topics such as: mining in Andean bear country, deforestation, climate change phenomena of melting glaciers in the Andes, ecologically sensitive Andean paramo grasslands, the struggle of indigenous peoples, desertification, medicinal research in the Amazon, and key biologically sensitive niche habitats- home to many threatened and endangered species. The tourism draw to this country on the conservation/volunteer front is growing by leaps and bounds as many flock to be a part of these ever important issues and witness first hand the beauty and uniqueness of this yet unspoiled international travel destination.

Adventure sports enthusiasts are not far behind, eagerly venturing into Ecuador for the extreme mountaineering, climbing, kayaking and, of course, surfing! An ever present enticement as a mountaineering destination, the country’s Andean range serves as a hard earned training grounds for those who are able to top off the killer peak of the world’s highest active volcano, Cotopaxi, within the enchanting Cotopaxi National Park. Just a short hour and half drive from the capitol city of Quito means you can be strapping on your crampons and ice axe shortly after touching down on the tarmac. Other sought after peaks are Ilinizas North and South and the behemoth of Chimborazo topping out at 20,702 feet.

The Andean range is considered a head waters to the Amazon River. The holding grounds for this precious water is a unique ecological wonder known as the paramo. These are the equivalent of giant sponges covered in 10 foot tall grasses, which feed the hungry souls of kayakers seeking out the class 4 and 5 river running that Ecuador has to offer.

Climbers are never short on supply and easy access to back country rock. With a geologic history based in this land of volcanoes the stunning views of columnar jointing apparent in San Juan Canyon would make any hard core trad climber drop their rack on the spot. These classic traditional routes are juxtaposed by the developed sport climbing oasis of Sigsipamapa, again just a short 45 minutes outside of Quito.

Another big draw into Ecuador is the Andean culture- a photographer’s dream with their calliope of colored traditional garb. the Quechua people in their festive wear are sprinkled into the commons of Quito which makes for a colorful and nice surprise when touring the capitol city. One of the largest outdoor markets is located in the high mountains of Otavalo, which explodes on the weekends with booths and tables selling locally grown and made wares. Here you may find alpaca sweaters, paintings, carved masks and hand woven hammocks. The festivals are rock hard south america style which means you either put your game face on or stay home, these are usually a blow out for photographers, egg throwers and off the chart, strange traditions that are culturally confounding and sure to delight!

Recently featured on National Geographic’s No Reservations with Anthony Bordaine, the country’s cuisine is highlighted on the Travel Channel’s documentary which doesn’t skimp on the skewered guinea pigs roasted as a delicacy and readily available in the open markets or roadside restaurants. Ecuador receives 5 gold stars as a travel destination due to its easily accessible transportation. Local bus transportation can get you to the most remote areas of this tiny country in any given direction at any given time. Airports provide daily commuter flights between the major airports of Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca and Manta. This country is still considered to be at its inception on the tourism scene which means you reap the benefits along with a few down turns. However, booking a package tour, where all the kinks have been worked out of the logistics planning which translates into a timely schedule, no hassles and you don’t even have to speak Spanish fluently in a world where few locals speak English.

The benefits are exceedingly obvious when you the hit the coastal zone where you will NOT find: Resorts, high rise buildings and traffic congestion. What you WILL find is: an expressive flamboyant culture, caiparinas (the local cane sugar cocktail), friendly locals, great prices, excellent sea food including cebiche and encocados (made from a coconut sauce), empty beaches as far as the eye can see and a consistent beach break which is just dawning on the surf scene. Novices and moderate surfers alike are discovering the friendly breaks without rock, reef and plenty of space for everyone to ride some waves. Be sure to check out the Lonely Planet’s ever expanding section on Canoa, Ecuador.

There are many online resources available to you regarding travel in Ecuador such as Viva Travel Guides, the Lonely Planet and Virtual Tourist 360.

RV’s – The Best Kept Travel Secret in America

What would you say if I told you I knew the best kept secret for traveling in America? A safe, cost effective, hassle-free way to see more of this beautiful country we live in. A way to travel at your own pace, on your own schedule, while building lasting memories with your family and friends. It sound too good to be true doesn’t it? Wait, it gets even better. What if I told you it’s not by plane, train, bus or your family automobile? Are you curious? Would you like to be let in on the secret that over 7 million households in America already discovered? If so, let me introduce you to the wonderful world of Recreation Vehicles (RVs) and camping.

I’m not talking about roughing it in the backwoods with tents and sleeping bags, not that there’s anything wrong with camping like that. What I’m talking about is your home away from home. An RV is your living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom on wheels. Not to mention air conditioning, satellite TV, and being able to take a hot shower. An RV offers you the freedom to roam Americas back roads and the flexibility to go whenever and wherever you want. Imagine this, you wake up one weekend on a beautiful crisp fall morning and just outside your front door is a 20-acre lake full of hungry rainbow trout. How about a two-week summer vacation 50 yards away from the tranquil sound of waves breaking on the beach, or just a Saturday afternoon tailgate party at your favorite college football game. Your RV is a private guesthouse for relatives when they come to visit and a weekend getaway to your favorite campground.

It’s a 30-day cross-country history lesson. It’s whatever you want it to be and best of all it’s fun and it’s safe. Perhaps this slogan used in a Go RVing advertisement sums it up the best. Waiting for the fish to bite you wonder how smart your daughter has gotten and how much your son is starting to look like you and you wonder why you never noticed until now. But you might as well head back to camp; the fish seem to be as relaxed as you are. Rediscover your family while you discover America. Wherever you go you’re always at home. Go RVing was formed in 1994 by representatives of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and leading state RV and campground associations. Go RVing works to distribute information about the benefits of RV travel and ensure the quality of RV products and services. You can call 1-888-Go-RVing or visit the Go RVing website at to get a free CD-ROM or video that will introduce you to the world of RV travel and camping.

Traveling in the United States and life in general changed dramatically after the cowardly terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. A nation of people who always felt safe and secure against any type of outside threat, and a nation of travelers who never gave a second thought to their mode of transportation are now weary about what to expect next. RV travel, already at an all time high, is more appealing since the tragic events of 9/11. Recognized travel authority and former President of RVIA, Mr. David J. Humphreys had this to say, “Families want to escape to America’s outdoors in these uncertain times, spend quality time together, and avoid hassles associated with flying-all long-term trends likely to sustain continued RV market growth.”

U.S. ownership of RVs has reached record levels, reveals a 2005 University of Michigan study commissioned by Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Nearly one in 12 U.S. vehicle-owning households now owns an RV. That’s nearly 8 million households-a 15 percent increase during 2001-2005 and a 58 percent gain during 1980-2005. The study also stated demographic trends favor substantial RV market growth. As baby boomers enter their prime RV buying years over the next decade, the number of RV-owning households is projected to rise to nearly 8 million in 2010, a gain of 15 percent, outpacing overall U.S. household growth of 10 percent. Other contributing factors to RV market growth are low interest rates, long term financing and the lure of the great outdoors. RVs can be financed for periods of 10, 15 and in some cases even 20 years, resulting in low monthly payments and tax deductible interest. RV vacations are more affordable than travel by personal car, commercial airline or cruise ship, according to vacation cost-comparison studies by PKF Consulting. Even factoring in RV ownership costs, and considering resulting tax benefits, a family of four can spend up to 70 percent less when traveling by RV.

What exactly is an RV? RVIA describes an RV as a vehicle that combines transportation and temporary living quarters for travel, recreation and camping. RVs come in many different types, sizes and price ranges. Some are very basic starting around $ 4,500 providing sleeping arrangements and cooking facilities. On the other end of the spectrum there are $1,000,000 plus luxury land yachts on wheels.

RVs are categorized as either motorized or towable. Motorized RVs are built on a vehicle chassis and powered by either a gasoline or diesel engine. There are three classifications for motorized RVs, type A, B, and C. Type A motor homes are the largest of the three ranging from 25 to 45 feet. They are the ones you see that look similar to a bus, and depending on the price they can be equipped with features like washers and dryers, multiple slide out rooms, satellite dishes, home entertainment systems and much more. Type B motor homes are the smallest of the three ranging from 16 to 20 feet. They are conversion vans that have been modified and equipped with all of the comforts and amenities found in other RVs in a compact size. Type C motor homes also referred to as mini-motor homes are built on a cutaway van chassis and range in size from 20 to 31 feet.

Towable RVs are towed behind a vehicle then disconnected and set up when you arrive at your destination. This allows you the benefit of using the tow vehicle to make a trip to the store, or go sight seeing while you are camping. Towable RVs include folding camping trailers, truck campers, travel trailers and 5th wheel travel trailers. Folding camping trailers, often referred to as pop-ups, are the least expensive RV and the lightest in weight. Some pop-ups offer the basic essentials while others come equipped with features like a water heater, bathroom, furnace and refrigerator. When set up they can range in size from 15 to 24 feet. Truck campers are campers loaded onto the bed of a pickup truck. This makes for a very versatile RV that can access back roads and remote areas other RVs can’t get to. Travel Trailers are a popular choice among RVers because of the wide array of floor plans available. Whether it’s for two people or eight you can find a model that will suit your needs. They range in size from 15 to 35 feet and offer all the comforts of home. Fifth wheel travel trailers are the ones you see that extend over the bed of the pickup or custom tow vehicle. Because of their bi-level design 5th wheels offer the most living space of any towable RV and are often times the choice for full-timing RVers. They range in size from 21 to 40 feet.

Traveling by RV makes even more sense when you take into account there are over 16,000 campgrounds, both public and private, for RVers to use in the United States. We also have 367 national parks that offer over 400 campgrounds with 29,000 campsites and our 156 national forests offer more than 4,000 campgrounds. While you visit these campgrounds across the U.S. you don’t need to be concerned about staying in touch with your family and business contacts. On a Travel Channel Program titled “Secrets of RVs” hosts and publishers of former RV Companion magazine, Mike and Beverly Wieber, discussed the latest technology for RVs involving in motion satellite systems and high speed Internet access. With this technology you can access online maps, travel information, and weather reports. More and more campgrounds are offering telephone connections as part of their full hook-up and the latest trend is to provide RVers with wireless high speed Internet access at the campground.

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