SFM/TOC Implementation Insights

Robert B. Vollum, CFPIM, Jonah’s Jonah
R. B. Vollum & Associates

Table Of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Principles of Flow
  3. Cost Barriers to Flow
  1. Organizational Impact of Synchronization
  1. Implementation
  1. Conclusion



Implementing Synchronous Flow management (SFM) and Theory of Constraints (TOC) means moving from the Cost World to the Throughput World. This requires a basic paradigm shift in the way a company attaches value to its decisions and its performance.

SFM/TOC represents a very different way to run a company from that which we learned as the traditional approach. The underlying philosophy of cost thinking and throughput thinking are worlds apart. The ideas embodied in mass production are challenged by the principles of constraints management from top to bottom, from inside to out.

Although the logic of synchronization and flow is straight forward, intuitive, and common sense, putting it in place can be difficult. When faced with the requirement to do something in a pressure situation, we tend to revert quickly to the familiar and comfortable, even though we may understand, intellectually, that another approach may be more appropriate.

Costing was developed early in the twentieth century when the world and the manufacturing environment were significantly different than they are as we approach the turn to the twenty-first century. What made brilliant sense in 1900 may make no sense today. The focus of cost is the presumed containment of factory expense. The focus of throughput is expansion of market impact. It is not possible to measure the performance of a process of expansion with the yardstick of containment without creating contradictions and confusion.



The principles of flow are straight forward and intuitively simple. Resources, of any sort, are finite in their capacity to do work within a described period of time. When the demand placed upon a resource in that same described period is weighed against that available capacity, it will either fit within it, or it will exceed it. The resource will either be a bottleneck to the demand or it will be a non-bottleneck.

When the relative demands versus capacities of all resources in an associated flow are compared, some resources will have greater relative load than others, and one will be most heavily loaded. The one with the greatest relative load will constrain the performance of the others.

When work is properly scheduled to get the maximum, uninterrupted performance at the most constrained resources, and when material release is controlled and properly buffered to sustain that performance without building unneeded queues of work at the less constrained resources, a factory will achieve optimal overall performance. Throughput (product produced and shipped) will be maximized; work in-process and finished goods inventory will be minimized; and the level of operating expense needed to support these positions will be lowest. Work will flow reliably, with minimal attention and effort, in relatively small quantities, and at relatively high velocity. Most resources, both equipment and people, i.e. those that do not control the flow, will experience regular periods of productive inactivity.

This environment does not describe conditions found in traditional facilities. Most often, conventionally run plants will produce relatively large batches, which will move sporadically in response to prioritized dispatching and expediting at universally heavily loaded resources. Emphasis will be on keeping resources and people busy rather than on keeping material moving.



Two psychological barriers, more so than all others, impede the progress of companies moving from the cost world to the throughput world. The issues associated with 1.) the presumption of cost of setups; and 2.) the belief that resources and people should always be busy, are the hardest to deal with. The related ingrained habits, biases, and beliefs are difficult to overcome and change. But change they must.

Setup Cost

Presume for the moment that a resource has the capacity to produce fifty pieces an hour of each of the variety of things it does. Presume further that it is operated for a single eight hour shift, five days a week and that no additional production hours are possible. This machine is therefore capable of producing four hundred pieces per day and two thousand pieces per week.

The traditional view of productivity encourages running resources to the maximum in order to absorb as much overhead as possible. If more product is produced than the market will buy, generally accepted accounting practices presume the standard profit of the excess as though it had been sold. The more produced, the greater the profit appears. Sold product, work-in-process, and residual finished inventory all appear to have the same positive impact on profit. The real impact, of course, is quite different, not only on profit but on return on investment and cash flow as well. There is only one way money comes into a company.

In this example, let us assume the resource requires no setup to switch from one product to another and that the total load comes from five customers, each of whom requires two hundred pieces per week of their part that goes across the machine. There is clearly enough capacity to do this work and to satisfy each customer on a timely basis week after week - buying material, producing, and selling product as ordered. No sweat. A piece of cake.

If setup were added to the equation, the perspective would likely change. The knee jerk reaction would probably be to minimize the cost of those setups by adjusting lot sizes upwards. The idea would be to amortize the cost of the setup over as many parts as practical in an effort to reduce the calculated piece-part cost.

Let us say that the setup in this instance takes two hours for each changeover. As large as that may seem, there is more than ample time to do all five setups each week and to run the two hundred pieces of each part to boot. It would require only thirty hours to do everything. It could be done routinely. In fact, another customer could be added and still have time remaining.

Once that dirtiest of all manufacturing words - setup - comes into play, thinking changes. Efforts get focused on minimizing its presumed, negative financial impact by running relatively large, "economical" lot sizes. Each of the lots in this example might be sized typically to equal one or two months of expected usage. The total load would then substantially exceed the 2000 pieces that could be produced each week.

As a consequence, raw material would be purchased in larger quantities. There would be large amounts of work in process and finished goods inventory in the plant. The resource would be busy continuously trying to keep up. Lead times would be extended. Schedules would be missed, and disappointed customers would keep the plant further off balance with periodic expediting. The story could go on and on. Anyone who has worked in cost driven companies knows how it goes.

The problem in this scenario is created by concern about setup cost. Let's examine that concern to see if it is justified. Keep in mind that there is actually more than sufficient time available in this example to handle all required setup and run times.

A common way of calculating setup cost is to first determine the cost of the labor involved and then to multiply that labor cost by a calculated burden rate to determine the amount of overhead to be allocated to the setup. The two resultant values of labor and overhead added together are considered to be the setup cost. In this example, let us assume that labor is paid at fifteen dollars an hour and that the burden rate is five hundred percent. Each two hour setup would be thought to contain thirty dollars of labor and one hundred fifty dollars of overhead for a total setup cost of one hundred eighty dollars.

Even though setup costs are usually presumed to be real, no additional money will actually flow from the company. The people will be paid thirty dollars for the two hours whether they do a setup, run the machine, or hide out in the rest room and do nothing. None of the overhead will change either. Rent, light, heat, insurance, front office salaries, etc. will all be paid at exactly the same rate whether a setup is done or not.

But, when lot sizes are increased in order to make piece-part costs appear lower, there will be changes in money flow, and they will all be negative. The throughput rate will go down. The inventory investment will go up. Operating expenses for people, overtime, rework, scrap, facility space, etc. associated with the glutted work load will increase. Usually, very few people worry about money flow in a cost-based company even though it is the final determinant of financial success or failure, just as it is in our personal lives.

The traditional view does not distinguish between constraints, which have no time to lose, and non-constraints, which have more than sufficient time to do the job. In a synchronous environment, the setup time value at constraints is considered to be the selling price of the lost throughput opportunity. Setups at non-constraints are essentially free.

The idea that setup costs are real, and equally important everywhere, dies hard. It has been a centerpiece of manufacturing culture for all of the twentieth century. Factory people, who have the company's well being at heart, are often passionate in their belief that these presumed costs are real and must be contained through longer product runs. The fact that people would rather run a machine than change it over often adds to the passion.


The traditional assumption is that all people working all the time equals an efficient and productive facility. Nothing could be further from the truth. In a smooth running, synchronous plant, the only resources fully consumed are the control point constraints. Every other resource has inherent idle time. Therein lies the rub, because that means that people being paid by the hour to produce are often not being "productive" in the traditional sense.

In the cost view, it is more important to keep people busy than it is to keep material moving. Those knowledgeable in SFM/TOC understand that exactly the opposite is true. The built-in idle time, which should be viewed as opportunity time, process improvement time, protective capacity, and growth potential, is critically important. Having it there also insures, axiomatically, that facilities are available to process work as it arrives rather than queuing it up. That translates to flexible, short cycle, high velocity, reliable flow.

It is not too difficult, philosophically and intellectually, for managers to accept the idea of factory idle time. It is when they encounter the reality of it on the factory floor that they tend to come unglued. Few would question the right of an eighty thousand dollar a year engineer to spend time wandering, but many would challenge the right of an eight dollar an hour laborer to take an unscheduled break. The workforce is not supposed to have available slack time.

In a cost dominated facility, the size of the workforce is set by trying to balance the standard labor hours provided to the standard labor hours calculated as needed to accomplish the forecasted production requirements. All standard labor hours are considered equal within function and labor grade. No distinction is made between constraints and non-constraints. The objective is to get as close as possible to having the exact number of people available as are calculated to be required to produce the forecast, on average, with no "wasted" labor.

In the traditional view, the closer a plant gets to that match, the more efficient it is considered to be. In fact, the closer it gets, the worse conditions become. If a plant were ever able to achieve this "totally balanced" condition, the company would go bankrupt in short order. The dynamics of dependencies and fluctuations would grind flow to an agonizing halt in a quagmire of inventory.

The existence of actual, inherent idle time, even though it may be hidden in a sea of work-in-process inventory, is what permits a factory to overcome these dynamics and ship product. But the closer a company gets to balancing standard labor hours to projected demand, the greater the inventory glut and the more severe the problem.

The Fire House Solution

Consider for a moment how you might describe a "productive" fire department in your community. Chances are you would come to an answer that would include its being available on a moment’s notice, with well maintained and ready equipment, to come to your house directly to extinguish a fire quickly, having all the needed resources and people at its disposal to do the job. If they could provide the same service for another resident at the same time, you would probably think that was all right, also. And if your child were caught in a tree, or the firefighters needed new or refresher training, or the community needed smoke detector inspection or instruction, or the town wanted them to take part in the parade, you probably would think it was all right for them to do those things - and others, as well.

But they get paid well to fight fires, not hang around the fire house, don't they? I think we should be mad as hell about what is actually going on, don't you? At any time, you may find a bunch of firefighters in the fire house bunkroom sound asleep, or playing cards, or eating, or just hanging out. Doesn't it frost your soul to think about it!? That's your tax money they are wasting! Don't you agree?

Let's straighten them up in the same way we have always run our factories. Let's make them "efficient". We certainly know how to do that!

The first thing we do in manufacturing is get a forecast of how much demand there will be for our products next year. We are confident that the processes used to do that are very reliable and accurate - aren't we? Next, we extend the forecast by the bill of labor to find how many standard hours of labor will be needed. Finally, we divide the standard hours needed to produce the total of all forecasted products by the actual hours worked per employee. The result of that calculation tells us the number of people needed to do the work "efficiently", with virtually no "wasted" labor. We may throw some fudge factors into the equation to round things off, but the people budget for the forecasted period gets set using essentially this process.

In this cost world view, there is no concern about any differences between Bottlenecks and non-bottlenecks. After all, an hour of labor is just an hour of labor - right? When staffed in this manner, a worker finishing a job will find the next one waiting in queue at the current resource or will be directed to another location if there is not enough work to keep the current resource running. No lost motion here.

Unfortunately, this process will often create interactive constraints by tying intrinsically nonconstrained resources together through common operators so that the resultant combinations of resources and people become overextended. Flexibility and recovery time are lost, and these facilities will regularly cause flow problems for any true constraints.

In an effort to keep a handle on the problems, Accounting, usually within two weeks of the close of the prior month, will let Manufacturing know how it did. After review of the variety of negative variances (e.g. volume, mix, performance, purchase, labor, routing, material, scrap, etc.), plant management can usually construct explanations (excuses?) to explain why efficiency was down even though there was a lot of overtime. They probably can complete the review of last month by the end of this month - in time for the start of next month. The intended purpose of these review exercises is to be helpful, not punitive.

We can apply this same process to our fire department. For our forecast, let's average the number of fires fought in each of the past three years to project the number to be fought this year. We can also find out from the records how many minutes each of those previous fires lasted and how many firefighters were at each. We can get this down to the gnats eyebrow of perfection figure of "firefighters-fighting-fires-minutes" needed over the course of a year. This should be almost as good as the four decimal places cost figures used in production.

We must also calculate the number of minutes in a full twenty-four day, three hundred sixty-five day year, because fires can happen at any time. Dividing that number by the "firefighters-fighting-fires-minutes" figure, will give us exactly the number of firefighters needed to fight every fire that should occur over the course of the year - efficiently, with no time wasted in the fire house. We may want to round the number off to a whole person.

Everyone of us who is concerned about people costs in our community can now be assured that we will get our money's worth. Each time a fire is extinguished, there should be another one waiting with no lost motion or time in between. The absorbed cost of each fire will go down. And, rest assured, if your house catches on fire, the trucks will get there just as soon as they possibly can. Who knows, maybe even next! How do you like your new, "efficient" fire department?

Protective Capacity and Opportunity Time

What we do to ourselves in manufacturing in the name of efficiency is just as ridiculous as that silly firehouse analogy. Communities do not build fire houses to be efficient. They build them to save lives and property. Investors do not build factories to be efficient. They build them to ship product and make money.

Smooth-flow manufacturing requires enough fire department "protective capacity" at each non-constraint resource in the plant to insure uninterrupted flow to and from the true constraints. The required amount of protection at each resource must be determined by its own disruptive potential. A resource with very few problems needs minimal protection, but it needs some. An unreliable resource may need a lot. Since virtually every resource in a plant is a "relative" non-bottleneck when netted to the demands of the true constraints, there should be substantial "bunkhouse" time in evidence throughout.

The time provided for protective capacity is actually idle time when it is not required to smooth a troubled flow. More appropriately, idle time represents opportunity time - time available to improve the process, reduce setup time, learn new skills, maintain the equipment, think, plan, relax, etc. It is critically vital that this time be permitted to exist. During slack periods, people assigned to non- constrained resources should not be channeled to other resources to do essential jobs that cannot be dropped instantly when legitimate processing requirements come to the operator's primary resource. But, they can, and should, be active on improvement projects that can be interrupted and returned to later without jeopardy. The idea that it is not only all right, but essential, for operators to have allowable opportunity time when there are no processing requirements is a difficult hurdle for management to clear. This often requires a period of intense internal agonizing to make this paradigm shift. Operating at high efficiency in the cost world has always meant nose-to-the-grindstone all the time. But to get maximum flow of both material and money, opportunity time must be allowed to surface and survive. The temptations to furlough or routinely reassign idle people must be conquered.


The P&IC Professional

Strategically, application of the principles of Synchronous Flow Management (SFM) has an enormous impact on the conduct of all areas of a manufacturing company. However, the day to day activities of the materials management functions are more directly impacted than are those of most other operating departments.

The departmental focus zeros in on the improvement of the total company throughput and moves away from the part by part, operation by operation emphasis of most conventional systems. This involves a heavier concentration on product flow planning with continuous attention to the point of control constraints and only peripheral attention, as required, to everything else.

Since the throughput of the entire plant, when properly scheduled, is determined by the point of control constraint, its precise schedule becomes the actual focused master schedule for the network. The Sales/Manufacturing negotiated finished product "master schedule" must be tailored to this actual capability. Planners must control the release of all material to support the buffered schedule of the control point, no more, no less.

Intermediate stocking levels and planned queues are removed from the process so that work can flow between work centers unimpeded by unnecessary work-in-process inventory. Problems will show themselves in the strategic buffers, eliminating the need for progressive performance reporting and order tracking. Work often moves through the entire process in a matter of hours or days when it previously may have taken months.

With most of the detail drudgery eliminated, the Materials Management functions quickly migrate to scheduling the control points, monitoring the timely release of material, monitoring performance by overseeing the management of the buffers, and maintaining a process of ongoing improvement. Since work flows so fast, it reduces or eliminates the need for most shop paper. The simplicity of scheduling makes possible a close marriage between Order Entry, Production Scheduling, and Purchasing, usually with significant reductions in clerical processing time and with less effort involved.

Inventory Control and Purchasing become more closely allied as the process of synchronization takes hold. WIP dwindles to that which is actually flowing between operations and what is in the planned, strategic buffers. The result is a dry-up of intermediate stock rooms. Quantities ordered tend to reflect actual production plans, both in quantity and time. The uncertainty of long term, forecasted projections diminishes as plant cycle time shrinks. The need for a close working alliance between P&IC and Purchasing becomes obvious and the logic for separation obscure.

All of the issues of synchronization drive toward the elimination of intensive, detailed clerical operations and the development of a more expansive, strategic perspective. The materials management functions are at the heart of the company's logistical flow. Freed from much of the pressure of day-to-day crisis, the focus should change from one of fire fighting to one of driving the process of ongoing improvement.


The key decisions made in Purchasing often change radically in response to synchronous demands. Make/buy decisions become constraint/non-constraint oriented rather than cost-based. Price negotiations must consider restrictions imposed on the constraints. Value analyses must view total throughput potential. Order quantities, delivery cycles, and flexibility often become more important than price.

The Financial Organization

Of all the departments in a manufacturing company, the Accountants have the potential for greatest influence on the philosophical direction taken. The manner in which the performance measurements are structured will ultimately determine the manner in which the organization will operate.

If day to day performances and decisions are measured by the classical cost accounting procedures of efficiencies, utilization, overhead allocation, budgets and variances, the organization will run with large batches, high inventories, and long lead times, and will make costly capital investment and product analysis mistakes. It will lose ground steadily to world class performers that no longer embrace those techniques.

A company that measures its day to day decisions on the basis of the simultaneous impact on sales, inventory and operating expense will make decisions that will intuitively improve the bottom line. Product decisions based on throughput contribution and constraint utilization will inevitably produce superior results to those based on material, labor & burden analysis.


The most impactive changes that synchronization causes on the factory floor are psychological or behavioral in nature. When workers who have been accustomed to pressure for continuous production are now told that it is all right to have periodic idle time, it can be unsettling to them. Removing work in process inventory everywhere except at a very few specific buffer locations, in a company that has been accustomed to large queues, can cause concern about the future. Making multiple, small lot setups when long runs had been the rule can bring a foreman's judgment into question. Having workers spend time working on process improvements rather than on running parts for stock may seem wasteful to a "cost conscious company man." Convincing people, who have always been pressured to hold "cost" down, that indirect labor is no different than direct labor and that full utilization is bad is tough to do.

And yet these are exactly the kind of behavioral changes that must be made. People must be taught to value a certain amount of available, unscheduled time as protective capacity. They must learn that performance to the constraint schedule is critical and that non constraint utilization is merely an insignificant number; that product flow increases competitiveness while stockroom inventory is a liability.

Psychological changes of this magnitude sprung on an unsuspecting and uninformed work force will cause an immediate and predictable reaction. Time spent in advance explaining what will happen, and why, will not only allay fears, it will enlist enthusiastic support as a common sense approach.

Manufacturing/Industrial Engineering

Factory engineers can have an enormous impact on bottom line performance. Unfortunately, many of the cost based procedures in use today are producing negative results, even though the numbers look positive. Prime areas of opportunity from instituting a throughput perspective are:

Routing material flow to avoid placing additional load on true bottlenecks by taking advantage of alternative non- constrained resources.

Doing constraints-based produceability analyses to determine how to capitalize on favorable market opportunities without negatively impacting existing products.

Properly evaluating the impact of high tech investments on throughput and flexibility.

Properly justifying constraint and non-constraint equipment acquisitions on the basis of throughput impact.


Of all the departments in a company, the ones that will most typically consider themselves unaffected by Synchronous Flow Management are Sales and Marketing. And yet these departments are frequently the major constraint of the company. This is particularly true when manufacturing operations are synchronized without taking companion actions throughout the company.

A problem factory can become a star performer very quickly. Relative capacity may increase substantially, and fewer people may be able to do the same job, better. This enhanced capability can create a serious problem if Sales and Marketing personnel are not in tune. Opportunities will be lost, and pressure may develop to lay off under-used workers. But, should those who have made the improvement be rewarded by losing their jobs? - A serious dilemma.

Sales and Marketing people must also replace the old cost ideas with throughput-based thinking if they are to capitalize on the superior performance of a synchronized plant. The differences are not difficult to master, but they are specific and must be learned. They deal with issues of market segmentation, product line mix decisions, sales incentive strategy, constraint/non-constraint pricing impact, value-based versus cost-based pricing, and marginal pricing.

General Management

If the head of the organization is not an active, knowledgeable participant in change and does not personally use the fruits of change, the change will not succeed. The thought processes of the Theory of Constraints are logical and convey common sense, but they are different from what most of us have been taught to use.

The far reaching impact of an SFM/TOC educated top management team lies in the areas of strategic planning, core issue identification, creative problem solving, and progressive measurement and accountability. For the organization to change to the perspectives described in each of the previous departmental sections, it is essential that senior management not only subscribe to those positions, but be active in leading the organization in those directions.


Learning the Language

The process for successfully replacing one perspective and its associated procedures with another may be likened to learning a foreign language. A person does not become fluent just by learning the words. There are new rules of syntax, idiom structuring, and the like to learn. There may be new vocal sounds to be mastered. Differences in pronunciation and meaning of similar appearing words must be understood. These things are not mastered overnight.

There is generally a process that often starts with formal study of the rules and word for word vocabulary translation, followed by phrase recognition and sentence structuring. In the beginning, everything involves translation to or from the familiar language with conscious concern for the rules of the new. Eventually, thinking can be done in the new language with no concern for the old. At that point, the language can be considered native even though it may not be mastered. Mastery requires continuing immersion, study, practice, and everyday use. There will almost certainly be a succession of "Aha!s" and exciting new discoveries along the way.


Learning To Walk The Talk

Synchronous Flow Management must be studied and learned if it is to replace existing approaches that are already known and followed as second nature. Assumption is not a substitute for education; nor is authority a replacement for knowledge.

We all were born into the cost world and have grown up with it, learning as we go - sometimes formally, sometimes on the job. Throughout industry, companies have put the applicable pieces of the puzzle in place in every department to support the traditional approach. People can move from company to company, and across departmental lines, and have a sense of familiarity and comfort at each stop. We may think the existing pieces no longer fit properly, but at least we know what to expect.

When a company adopts SFM/TOC, the individuals in all parts of the company must learn how their departments are involved and what they must do to promote the change. The education is not difficult or lengthy, but it must take place broadly. No department can stand aside if the company is to achieve maximum success. Synchronous Flow Management is a philosophically different way to view the world, and it affects everyone in the company.

When implemented properly and with conviction, companies are almost always amazed by the degree of improvement SFM brings and the speed with which it happens. It is a process in which each improvement, continually and forever, drives to further improvement. Most companies experience impressive progress within the first several weeks.


There are three basic classifications of education needed to successfully implement SFM, rapidly, and without the rancor and consternation so often associated with change. The first class addresses the critical issue of individual acceptance of the ideas and generates the excitement needed for success. It also blunts the problems of the not-invented-here syndrome. The second conveys the details of the technology to all who must know, and develops a management consensus of applicability. The third teaches the workforce what the new procedures will be, what the obvious changes will be, how their work lives will be different, and why the company's strength and their own job security will be greater as a result of the changes. It develops a sense of excited expectation to get started.

The first type of education is easy and painless. Everyone should read The Goal by Goldratt and Cox. Dr. E.M. Goldratt is the genesis of the SFM/TOC movement. He has written a terrific book that gets virtually everyone who reads it excited about the possibilities, without feeling threatened by the fact that the ideas came from someone else.

The second type is more difficult to structure. It should be intensive, in depth, and insightful and in a workshop format. It must teach the specifics of Synchronous Flow Management philosophy and procedures to those in responsible positions, from first line supervisors to the president.

An effective course will probably require two or more days of total dedication. Each person in the management group should take part in such a program. Someone who is, at a minimum, knowledgeable to the point of "thinking in the language, not merely translating", should teach the classes. There are only a few books currently available that are suitable to use as texts. Teaching aids such as computer simulators and games are often helpful. There are several qualified consulting/education firms capable of delivering such a course, if outside help is needed.

Workforce education should be relatively informal, interactive, and last no more than half a day. It should convey the principles of constraint management and synchronization and permit the participants to understand the process and to make peace with the significant changes that will occur. These sessions should take place after the details of implementation have been determined and shortly before it actually starts. They can be delivered effectively by either knowledgeable factory managers or professional educators.


Following the management education workshop(s), but prior to the workforce training sessions, knowledgeable and insightful people should analyze the company. The purpose is to create a vision of what the company should look like after synchronization and to scope the details of implementation.

The vision may call for significant change from current conditions. It must be created with full knowledge of the way things currently are, but also with a creative view of how good they can get. If there are not people in the company with skills to do this critical task, outside help should be sought. It may be helpful for key people in the company to be educated in the Thinking Process of the Theory of Constraints. This is a major undertaking and represents a fourth kind of education, if pursued.

Key points to be determined during analysis include:

- The physical, procedural, and behavioral constraints that currently limit performance of the company.

- The factual relationship between real market demand and true plant capacity.

- The manner(s) in which product flows through the company.

- Resources or processes that can be structured as control points.

The product of the analysis should be an action plan that will create a synchronous environment for optimal flow and control of both material and money. It should establish the details and responsibility for each step to be taken.


Synchronous Flow Management can turn virtually any mediocre performance company into a competitive force. But for this to happen, the company must be willing to throw out the century old ideas of cost containment that define the traditional manufacturing environment. Once this issue has been resolved, a new, throughput driven paradigm can be created with amazing speed and ease.


Robert B. Vollum is the Principal of R. B. Vollum & Associates, and President and CEO of SFM Technologies. He has lectured and consulted throughout the Western World since 1976 and is the author of many articles. He is the leading authority on Synchronous Flow Management and has spearheaded efforts since 1984 to mold Dr. Eli Goldratt's Theory of Constraints to industry applications.

Before turning to consulting, he served his last ten years in industry as Chief Operating Officer of divisions of two international corporations and as Chief Executive Officer of a company he founded and later sold. Prior duties were in manufacturing operations, materials management, sales and marketing.

Bob is an Engineering graduate of the United States Naval Academy and is included in Who's Who in Finance and Industry, Who's Who in the East, Who’s Who in America, and Who's Who in the World. He is certified as CFPIM by APICS and as Jonah's Jonah by the Goldratt Institute.


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