Senior Business Analyst

New Breed Companies

2003 - Present

 

Senior Business Analyst
New Breed Companies
2003 - Present

I am currently working for New Breed Corporations. I was brought on board as a technical writer for a 6-week contract. That was in October 2003. Needless to say, they liked me, wanted to keep me and brought me on full-time. I am doing much more than technical writing.

New Breed assigned me to two different projects:

United States Marine Corps

Marines do three things very well: they fight (for this I thank them very much), they train to fight, and they hold meetings about training and fighting. They don't manage warehouses very well, and that's where we step in.

Although I am not an industrial engineer, I put my general quality management and engineering skills to work to design packaging, develop packing standards, and set up a recovery, recycling and retail operation for chemical protective masks.

I did a Parato analysis on the inventory and found that 90% of the bulk of the inventory was comprised of only 3 of the 30+ items we manage: suits, boots, and gloves. Accordingly, I developed packaging to accommodate these three items. The packages had to be big enough to accommodate a reasonable number of the item, yet small enough to be manageable. Too small a package, and there is loss of efficiency. Too large a package and the chances of splitting lots is increased.

Another compromise had to balance how well the items fill the box and how well the boxes fill a pallet. I came up with two boxes that fit perfectly on a pallet with no wasted space. For these three items, I designed packaging with a 85% or better density efficiency. Furthermore, the glove box packs directly into deployment containers and increases the density by 50% over the previously used standard.

The other 10% of the inventory bulk either fits very well in one of these boxes or is large enough to be loaded directly on a pallet. We captured the packing standards for these items as we brought the gear into our first warehouse in the project.

My main area of responsibility is the chemical protective mask. Not only did I became the subject matter expert for the product, I also had to develop whole new concepts for the company. New Breed is very good at warehouse management. They take in materiel in bulk, inspect it, store it, manage the shelf life, and ship it out in bulk. They do not do retail operations such as individual issue and recovery of masks.

The masks require inspection, tear down, cleaning and rebuild. We need to track not only the stock in inventory, but also the stock that is in the hands of the individual Marines. Quality needs to be 100%. Chemical protective masks are life support equipment and if they fail, people can die.

Normally when inventory leaves a warehouse, it doesn't come back. For us, returns are a daily occurrence. We also have to handle up to 200 customers a day, each requiring a custom fitting and check out procedure. We are doing this with less than 1/3 the staff that the Marine Corps used to employ.

I also developed a concept for bulk cleaning the masks using a commercial dishwasher. The current process does not keep up with demand without additional labor being applied. I designed a test, coordinated with a vendor to conduct the tests, and ran preliminary tests. The results indicate that the process is viable, and that formal testing should be conducted by the Government. I did the associated financial analysis and for the same initial investment as the current system, we could save $90,000 in operating costs each year. The idea is currently being considered by a Joint Commission.

I developed a flow chart to show the end-to-end process for handling the chemical protective mask. It is not a linear process, there are multiple entry points to the process, multiple exit points, and depending on the type of operation and condition of the mask, there are various paths through the process that masks may take.

Using the inventory transaction and inventory levels databases, as well as observations from the field, I was able to break down each process to its most elemental steps and assign a labor costs to each step. I was also able to assign percentages to the paths that might be taken. The labor rates and percentages were outlined in a flow chart and tracked in an Excel spreadsheet that corresponds with the flow diagram. The combination spreadsheet / flowchart allows us to conduct "what if" analyses to see where improvements to the process will have the greatest impact.

In my spare time, I developed, coordinated and conducted training. Some of the materials I had to develop and deliver myself (or train other staff to train them). Other materials I had to "contract out" to the Government which means I have to find a trainer, and make arrangements for equipment and facilities. Very often, I had to deliver this training while our facility is still under construction and before we actual receive the equipment.

Verizon Wireless

New Breed operates a Reverse Logistics Center (RLC) for Verizon Wireless. Retailers and individuals send phones back to the New Breed distribution center to be evaluated, refurbished, reprogrammed and repackaged for shipment.

I am involved in five different sub-projects:

  • Human Resources Analysis
  • Labor Distribution and Performance
  • Inventory Management
  • Variable Process Control
  • Failure Analysis on Handsets
Human Resources Analysis

The workforce is very dynamic and depends on hiring and dismissing temporary employees to meet the very seasonal surges and lulls in cellular phones returns. We also experience high turnover rates.

I developed tools to track the current breakout of the workforce by work center, shift, supervisor and type employee (temporary or full time). I track conversions from temporary to full-time, and evaluate turnover for any time period specified by the HR Manager.

I also provide tools to the HR Manager and Supervisors that track attendance and performance issues and disciplinary actions. Additional tools manage requisitions for temporary employees, and audits of invoicing from the temporary staffing agencies.

Labor Distribution and Performance

Effective management of the workforce depends on knowing where people are punched in, and how much product they are producing. The output of one process may be the input of another process, and the workforce needs to be balanced to assure a continuous supply of product to the downstream processes without creating an excess of work in progress (WIP).

Supervisors need to see where their people are currently assigned, and how those assignments affect output. They also need a tool that will allow them to see the effects of moving people from one labor code to another to address issues of WIP and meeting targeted goals.

I developed such a tool. I coordinated with IT to have hourly downloads of punch in data, use an Access Database to consolidate the data and present it in a query, and use the query as the foundation for an Excel spreadsheet. All the supervisor needs to do is save the spreadsheet to the local drive, and refresh a single page (a two click operation). Multiple reports showing the current situation are presented. The supervisor can override critical fields such as current headcount in a labor code and work already produced during the shift, to show what effects these actions have on production.

Inventory Management

I developed three tools to assist the inventory manager.

The first tool prints labels for pallets as soon as they arrive on the dock and are awaiting further processing into inventory. In addition to printing the labels, the tool also tracks how many pallets arrive, when they arrive and what type they are (for Pareto analysis later) and how long they have been there before being broken down and officially entered into inventory.

The next tool assists the inventory manager with cycle counting. Existing reports tell us where a product is located in inventory - period. Our customer tells us when cycle counts for various SKUs are required: some SKUs are counted every 30 days, some quarterly and some annually. This tool helps with the scheduling of the cycle counts, and keeps track of what SKUs have already been counted, and what SKUs are coming due counting.

The final tool is an aged bin report. It is important to our customer that specifically-designated SKUs not be in our racks longer than a specified period of time. This report identifies the location of those SKUs where the age is coming due or past due.

Variable Process Control

The collecting, refurbishing, and redistribution of cellular phones is more akin to a manufacturing process than a logistical process. However, some of the traditional manufacturing metrics do not work for our application. In particular, run-time charts showing statistical processes control fail.

One of the primary reasons for the failure is that the wireless industry is still growing, and it is also a seasonal business with swings that vary from month to month. To complicate matters even more, we have processes that vary by day of the week such as processes that depend on receiving. Typically we do not receive on weekends making Monday processing almost twice the level of other days of the week.

The solution to this issue was to take the growth and the seasonality out of the process leaving daily noise behind. The remaining noise is suitable for analysis using the traditional tools. In addition the process is broken out by day of week. Three models are evaluated:

  • By Day of Week
  • "Straight Percentage”
  • Traditional Control Limits

The software automatically selects the correct model to use.

The signal (growth and seasonality) is added back to the noise to compare to predicted results.

Furthermore, there are two versions of the model:

  • The advanced version uses MS-Excel's solver functionality to produce a sinusoidal model that can be used for forecasting.
  • The simplified version uses Cramer's Rule to assign least-squares-fit coefficients to a third degree polynomial to provide a very accurate approximate the sinusoidal solution. This version is 100% automated and is useful if all you want to do is check to see if recent transactions show deviations.
  • Both versions plot the measured data, signal and upper and lower control limits and flag deviations.

Failure Analysis on Handsets

The company receives tens of thousands of handsets every week. Some of these are good enough to refurbish (put new plastic parts on them) and send back out. Others are sold to third parties. Most of them require some level of repair. My job is to analyze the reasons for the latter. I provide a series of “live” reports meaning that the data is automatically updated form the database in the early hours of the morning. These data are automatically populated into dashboard-like spreadsheets where the end user can select data by OEM, model, type of phone (basic, 3G, 4G, tablet) and failure type. As they select the data the information is charted automatically showing trends and relationships.