Frequently Asked Questions

What is Factory Physics Inc.?

Factory Physics Inc. is a management consulting company that provides a scientific framework, software analytics, and training to optimize performance of manufacturing supply chains.

Isn't there a book titled Factory Physics?  What is the connection?

Factory Physics Inc. is the name of our company.  Factory Physics also is the title of an award-winning book co-authored by Factory Physics Inc. founder Mark Spearman. Factory Physics was written as a textbook by Drs. Spearman and Hopp when they were developing a science of operations from first principles at Northwestern University. In 2014, Factory Physics for Managers was written as a more practical handbook for managers.

What product, service or solution does Factory Physics Inc. offer?

Factory Physics Inc. provides training, management consulting and software analytics to enable organizations to increase profitability and performance of manufacturing and supply chains as quickly and effectively as possible.  Factory Physics principles and applications provide the practical science to cut through complexity, reduce conflict and fill in gaps in manufacturing and supply chain control.  Factory Physics Inc. is the leader in bringing the power of this practical science to industry.

Who is behind Factory Physics Inc.?  What was the inspiration for/what launched the principles of Factory Physics?

Mark Spearman, Ph.D., founded Factory Physics Inc. in 2001. 

Since 1986, researchers at Northwestern University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan have been developing a new paradigm that provides a comprehensive, scientific framework to control and optimize the fundamental operations of any manufacturing and supply chain system.  The result is the Factory Physics framework that provides a practical set of solutions for manufacturing and supply chain managers and executives. 

In a strong endorsement for the Factory Physics approach, the National Science Foundation awarded Factory Physics Inc. more than $1 million in grants to develop CSUITE operations analytics software to standardize and advance the framework. 

The name "Factory Physics" sounds very technical.  Are Factory Physics principles and applications difficult to understand and apply?

Factory Physics principles and applications are based on practical science.  Factory Physics Inc. provides the training and insight that enables organizations to quickly learn and apply the principles to optimize their manufacturing supply chains.  Our experience has shown that employees at every level - from line operators to plant managers to the executive suite - grasp the concepts of the Factory Physics framework and are able to apply the information that is useful to them.

Who are Factory Physics Inc.'s clients?

Factory Physics Inc. clients include a mix of companies ranging from some of the world's largest organizations to companies with $30 million in annual revenues.  References are available upon request.

Who are Factory Physics Inc.'s competitors?

Factory Physics Inc. is the only company offering a comprehensive, practical, scientific framework that enables organizations to increase profitability and performance of manufacturing and supply chains as quickly and effectively as possible.  Factory Physics Inc. competes against some of the world's largest consulting firms when it comes to manufacturing strategy, planning and evaluation. 

On the surface, it appears that Factory Physics Inc. also competes against organizations that promote process improvement initiatives such as Lean, Six Sigma or Theory of Constraints; however, we strongly believe in these efforts and work in support of them at our client companies.  Factory Physics Inc. offers a practical, scientific framework and software analytics that enable organizations to focus and accelerate existing process improvement efforts.  Factory Physics Inc. services and products provide objective understanding of problems and solutions to enhance the cultural change efforts typically required in improving performance.

Does Factory Physics Inc. compete with systems integrator companies? 

No, Factory Physics Inc. does not seek to replace organizations' existing IT systems.  In nearly every instance, we find that organizations have invested millions of dollars in IT systems and continue to plan and operate their production systems with spreadsheets.  Factory Physics Inc.'s software analytics resolve this problem and optimize organizations' existing systems to make manufacturing management easier using companies' existing software.

Why would a manufacturer enlist Factory Physics Inc.'s expertise and solutions?

Factory Physics Inc. delivers results through the structure of a comprehensive, scientific framework based on years of research and development.  Factory Physics Inc.'s focus on results has helped organizations worldwide realize millions of dollars in savings, dramatic reductions in inventory and cycle time, and tremendous increases in throughput to show from past engagements. 

Through years of practical application, Factory Physics Inc. has moved well beyond academic discussion to the dynamic, bottom-line focus required in industry.  With Factory Physics Inc., clients get powerful practical science, software and experts with years of industry experience to enable successful results for their specific market conditions and strategic focus.

What is unique / different / revolutionary about Factory Physics Inc.'s approach to manufacturing management?

Factory Physics Inc.'s practical, comprehensive scientific approach is what distinguishes the company from other alternatives and enables organizations to sort through the best strategic and tactical execution options for them.  With Factory Physics Inc., organizations get the best possible solutions for their unique challenges and quick results given their existing resources.  Factory Physics Inc. enables companies to focus and accelerate existing continuous improvement efforts such as Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma or Theory of Constraints.  The practical science provided through the Factory Physics framework gives organizations the information they need to resolve conflicts and solve manufacturing and supply chain problems fast.

Additionally, through the work of Drs. Spearman and Hopp, the concept of Best Case, Worst Case and Marginal Worst Case performance was developed to quantitatively determine ranges of performance of a manufacturing supply chain. This is a technique that was never available before and provides a quick, quantitative assessment of process/company/supply chain performance compared to best possible performance. Factory Physics Inc. has developed the Best Case/Worst Case/Marginal Worst Case into a technique called Absolute Benchmarking. With Factory Physics Inc.'s Absolute Benchmark evaluation, a company can quickly determine what type of performance improvement efforts, e.g. setup reduction, CONWIP, new product introduction, will provide the biggest benefit and best bottom line results.

Factory Physics Inc. has provided dramatic performance improvements for clients through its work taking Factory Physics principles out of the academic environment and applying them directly in practical business situations.

The development of the CSUITE operations analytics software, with over $1,000,000 in support from the National Science Foundation, has also been a ground-breaking advance by Factory Physics Inc. CSUITE operations analytics software provides a quick, repeatable approach to operations design, planning and execution to enable dramatic progress in bottom-line performance.

Which school of thought / manufacturing philosophy (e.g. Lean, Six Sigma) or software application (e.g. ERP, MRP) does Factory Physics Inc. support?

The Factory Physics framework is not a new initiative to replace or supersede other sound manufacturing improvement strategies such as Six Sigma, Lean or Theory of Constraints.  It provides a comprehensive, practical and scientific strategy and software analytics to enable managers to focus and accelerate existing improvement efforts.  Factory Physics Inc. provides the expertise and training to apply the power of this practical science as quickly as possible to get results fast while strengthening other improvement initiatives such as Six Sigma or Lean or Theory of Constraints.

If enterprises employ Factory Physics Inc., do they need to overhaul their existing ERP and MRP solutions and other IT infrastructures?

No.  The Factory Physics approach optimizes existing integration software and processes by helping organizations identify opportunities to improve the design, planning and execution components of operations while integrating all three components within existing IT systems to ensure that improvements are permanent. 

What type of ROI can companies expect when they enlist the help of Factory Physics Inc. to optimize their manufacturing environment?

Factory Physics Inc. has helped organizations worldwide realize millions of dollars in savings, dramatic reductions in inventory and cycle time, and tremendous increases in throughput to show from past engagements.  Return on investment is typically greater than 200 percent.

Do Factory Physics principles apply to every manufacturing environment?  If not, which environments and verticals are most likely to respond to (benefit from) this approach?

Factory Physics principles and software analytics do indeed apply to any manufacturing or service environment and have been used in industries as varied as semiconductor, pharmaceutical, biopharma, commodity chemical, automotive and medical equipment.  Factory Physics principles and software analytics also have been applied in hospital emergency rooms.

The industry is not so much the determinant of usefulness as is the environment of a particular company.  Organizations just beginning to investigate and implement productivity initiatives are not the best environments for a Factory Physics Inc. engagement.  Factory Physics principles and applications apply to any organization, but if an organization is looking to straighten up its plant floor and establish basic practices and discipline, it would be better served by applying 5S techniques first.  Organizations that have been implementing process improvement initiatives such as Lean and Six Sigma for a couple of years and wish to take their efforts to the next level would benefit most by applying Factory Physics principles.  Often, these organizations already have resources established (i.e. Lean champions, Six Sigma Black Belts, TOC Jonahs) who are a natural fit for Factory Physics Inc. to work with to accelerate efforts and unlock additional value from the company's operations.

Factory Physics principles also are helpful in new acquisition integration or change of management situations and provide the management team an objective, practical framework to quickly align priorities and ensure successful transitions.  The difficult process of change management is made much less difficult through use of the objective, fact-based understanding provided by the Factory Physics approach.

How much do Factory Physics Inc. consulting and software solutions cost?

The cost of an engagement typically is recovered within two to four months of implementation.  Please contact Factory Physics Inc. for more information.

Can I employ the principles of Factory Physics without investing in the Factory Physics Inc. software and CSUITE?  Do I need to attend the training seminar or enroll in the university class?  Can I get the information I need just by reading the book Factory Physics?

There is significant benefit to be gained from reading the book Factory Physics and/or by attending our training seminars; however, to adapt and apply Factory Physics principles in a meaningful way that will yield maximum results as quickly as possible, the most effective course of action is to enlist the help of Factory Physics Inc. associates who work one-on-one with organizations to identify opportunities for improvement and adapt the Factory Physics principles accordingly.  Factory Physics Inc.'s Master Factory Physicists will provide training and insight so an organization gains a complete understanding of:

  • Factory Physics principles and applications
  • The organization's opportunities for improvement
  • The predictive ability to determine most beneficial improvements
  • How to implement changes and get results as quickly as is possible 

Factory Physics Inc. has invested years of research and application and millions of dollars to develop a software application (CSUITE) that is built on the comprehensive Factory Physics framework.  While many organizations can and do use a hodgepodge of EXCEL spreadsheets and internally-generated applications, CSUITE analytics provides a faster, more effective package for working with existing systems to pull information together in one application that makes managing operations easier.

Where can I learn more about Factory Physics Inc.?

Please visit our Web site at www.factoryphysics.com, or contact us directly at info@factoryphysics.com.