For Jackson Lumber & Millwork, one such story was the internal communications systems between sales and manufacturing.

Miscommunication resulted in materials that were produced for customers long before the customer was ready to receive them. Incorrect specs meant the wrong products were made.

"Sometimes the order dates didn't align with the customer's needs and delivery times," explains Don Piccarillo, Jackson's information systems director. "So we created feedback loops to keep the information up to date and accurate." Now, before production, e-mails are sent to salespeople requesting a confirmation of the date and accuracy of order. If the sales department doesn't acknowledge the order, it's not released to production.

Once the order is acknowledged by sales, production begins. Similar to UPS or FedEx, e-mails are triggered at key points in the production and distribution process. Salespeople are notified of the status of their orders and, in turn, can provide advance notice to their customers. This is particularly important if there are delays or changes.

"Our salespeople love the real-time information on their orders–almost as much as our customers," adds Piccarillo. This is simply one example of several that have improved OTIF performance at Jackson Lumber & Millwork. Joe Torrisi, vice president of manufacturing operations, concludes, "Measuring OTIF has been great for us. We want to keep measuring. It's really changed our business for the better."

–Ruth Kellick-Grubbs