POLCA (Paired-cell Overlapping Loops of Cards with Authorization) is a card-based visual control system that manages the flow of jobs through the shop floor: at each operation, it controls which job should be worked on next to meet delivery targets. POLCA ensures that upstream operations use their capacity effectively by working on jobs that are needed downstream, while at the same time preventing excessive work-in-process (WIP) build-ups when bottlenecks appear unexpectedly.
POLCA is particularly suited to companies manufacturing high-mix, low-volume and customized products. Such companies struggle with long lead times, late deliveries, and daily expediting to meet delivery dates. ERP systems are not designed to deal with this highly variable environment, and add-on software such as Finite Capacity Scheduling systems can require complex installation. Also, the Kanban system does not work well with low-volume or custom production. POLCA has delivered impressive results in such environments. It does not require any complex software implementation: it can be used without an ERP system or it can seamlessly complement an existing ERP system.
"When POLCA was introduced, theoretical situations in which the system would fail were used to criticize it. Twenty years later, as shown in the book, the system has proven to be much more flexible and adaptable than originally thought. If you are considering implementing POLCA, reading Suri’s new book with many examples, implementation guidelines and possible adaptations, therefore is a good idea. Everything is explained in plain language. (…) My conclusion regarding the book: The Practitioner’s Guide to POLCAis a very good and comprehensive book about POLCA and its possibilities and prerequisites (…)"
- Dr Jaap van Ede, editor-in-chief, Business-improvement.eu
"We had struggled to implement a pull system for our high-mix, low-volume products. Through implementing POLCA we dramatically reduced our work-in-process (WIP), freeing up cash and creating additional space for manufacturing. In addition, our internal chaos decreased, and customer satisfaction and profitability increased."
– Tom Schabel, CEO, Alexandria Industries, Alexandria, Minnesota
"Implementing POLCA was revolutionary for our company. Now our delivery time is revolutionary for our customers!"
– Godfried Kaanen, President & CEO, Bosch Hinges, The Netherlands
"Dr. Suri has created a truly innovative alternative to Kanban for companies that do non-repetitive work in small batches rather than in automotive-style volumes. This book gives clear direction to manufacturers so they can implement POLCA to dramatically improve the way they meet their customers' needs now and for years to come."
– Bill Ritchie, President, Tempus Institute, Maryville, Tennessee
Part I: Understanding POLCA. 1.POLCA—Simple Yet Highly Effective: A Tale of Two Companies. 2. POLCA Explained: How It Works. 3. Operational Benefits of POLCA; Part II: Implementing POLCA. 4.Pre-POLCA Assessment, Prerequisites, and Preparation for POLCA. 5. Designing the POLCA System for Your Situation; 6. Accommodating Exceptions within the POLCA Framework. 7. Launching POLCA. 8 How We Designed and Launched POLCA in Three Days. 9. Sustaining POLCA: Post-Implementation Activities. Part III: Industry Case Studies. 10. From the United States: Using POLCA to Eliminate Material Flow Chaos in an Aluminum Extrusion Operation. 11 From Canada: Applying POLCA in a Pharmaceutical Environment. 12. From the Netherlands: Creating Flow and Improving Delivery Performance at a Custom Hinge Manufacturer through QRM and POLCA. 13. From Belgium: Metalworking Subcontractor Reduces Lead Times by 85% Using QRM and POLCA. 14 From Poland: Dancing the POLCA in a Glass Factory. 15. From Germany: Yes, Even Small Companies Can Benefit from Implementing POLCA. Appendix A: Introduction to MCT: A Unified Metric for Lead Time. Appendix B: Overview of Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM). Appendix C: Perspectives on Applying MRP, Kanban, or Some Other Card-Based Systems to HMLVC Production Environments. Appendix D: Capacity Clusters Make High-Level MRP Feasible. Appendix E: The Sociotechnical Success Factors of POLCA. Appendix F: Experiences with Using a POLCA Simulation Game. Appendix G: Explanation of Formula for Number of POLCA Cards. Appendix H: POLCA: A State-of-the-Art Overview of Research Contributions. Appendix I: Additional Resources for POLCA Training and Games. Index. About the Author