Operations Management - Critical Path Or Network Analysis

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  • Created on: 25-03-08 16:29
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Operations Management
Critical Path or Network Analysis ­ Text Book
To achieve productive efficiently mangers will want to plan projects as effectively as
possible to ensure that time and resources are not wasted. To help in this planning
process manages may use a Critical path / Network Analysis. It is a method of
organising different activities involved in a particular proce4ss in order to find the most
efficient means of completing the task. The aim is to complete the project in the
shortest time possible.
To undertake network analysis managers must
Identify all the different tasks involved in the process
Estimate the expected length of time each task will take
Determine the order in which tasks must be completed, e.g. in some cases
particular tasks cannot be completed until another one has taken place first. In
other cases activities can be undertaken simultaneously.
The next step is to create a network chart. When drawing a network diagram the
following features are used.
A circle called a `node' which represents the start and end of an activity
A straight line, which represents the activity itself.
A line showing the activity is labelled;
Above the line is the name of the activity
Below the line is the expected time it will take to complete
There are rules when constructing a network diagram:
The lines showing different activities must never cross
The lines showing activities should always begin and end at the mid-point of the
The diagram must begin and end with a node
When drawing the activities and nodes do not put the end node on any activity
until you are sure what comes next and whether anything else must be completed
before the following activity takes place.
Earliest Start Times and Latest Finish Times
This information is shown inside the node:
The Earliest Start Time
This is the earliest time a particular activity can begin; it is shown in the top right side
of the node. To calculate these figures you take the earliest start time of the activity
before and add on the duration. If you have a chose of durations to add on choose the
biggest number.
By identifying the earliest start time a firm can see when materials are likely to be
needed. This means that components and supplies can be ordered to arrive just in time to

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Calculating the earliest start time is therefore an important part of developing a lean
approach to a project ensuring people and materials are coordinated and ready at
exactly the right moment.
Latest Finish Time
This shows the lasted time when an activity can be finished without holding up the entire
project; it is shown at the bottom left of the nodes.…read more

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May be able to produce items or develop products more quickly than the
competition and therefore gaining a competitive advantage.
Network analysis can be a key element in time based management
Just in time production can be implemented using the earliest start times
identified in the CPA and therefore materials etc can arrive when they are
needed and not before. This saves storage costs and also the opportunity cost of
having money tied up in stocks.…read more

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Operations Management
Critical Path or Network Analysis ­ Class Notes
Network analysis is a way of showing how a complex project can be completed in the
shortest time possible. It identifies the activities that must be completed on time to
avoid delaying the whole project. The objectives are to ensure customer satisfaction
through good time keeping and to minimise the wastage of resources thereby boosting
the profitability of the project.…read more

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When drawing a network striking to short lines across the critical activities indicate the
critical path.
Time is vital not only because it affects costs but also because it can provide a crucial
marketing edge. Careful production planning can also help to get a firms new product to
the market before the opposition.
Network analysis is a valuable practical tool for taking time seriously. It involves careful
planning and can be used as a way of monitoring progress.…read more


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