Lessons in Manufacturing from Santa Claus

We’re less than one week away from Christmas, which means that the elves in Santa’s workshop are undoubtedly working overtime in order to meet the December 25th deadline. Most people are pretty busy this time of year – especially those in the manufacturing industry – but none are quite as busy as the big man in red. Believe it or not, though, Santa isn’t perfect when it comes to his manufacturing processes. Here’s what Santa gets right and what he gets wrong in manufacturing.

Santa is no slouch, and while his physique begs to differ, he knows the importance of getting lean. Santa has been brushing up on lean manufacturing, and had the brilliant idea to collect wishlists. Why guess at what the customer wants when you can wait for a letter telling you exactly what they want? This is a perfect example of pull type manufacturing.

Santa is in a unique position because he knows exactly what to produce, how much to produce, and when it has to be delivered in order to achieve maximum customer satisfaction. That, and the fact that he has a fleet of magical reindeer with charming names. Knowing precisely when he has to get goods on the shelves (or presents under trees) means that he can implement the most efficient just-in-time manufacturing system imaginable.

It’s not all good news for old Saint Nick, however. Santa has some room for improvement in his manufacturing process.

If we’re to believe what Christmas songs tell us, Santa hasn’t changed his process in the last 80 years. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” was written in 1934, but what was cutting edge and efficient in 1934 is obsolete today. Maybe Santa should come up with a process that eliminates the need to check lists twice, or maybe double-checking his list was redundant in the first place. Maybe Santa should think about implementing Industry 4.0 practices to automate list checking and streamline the whole process. It’s possible, however, that Santa has been working on alignment this whole time, and Christmas songs have simply failed to report on the progress.

And if Santa is still relying on elf workers for production, he needs to get with the times. Industrial automation has been around for decades, and it’s continuing to take over the manufacturing industry. Since we don’t know the specifics about the work rate of elves and their labor agreement with Santa, we can only speculate that automation would be an improvement. Maybe elves can match the precision, speed, and efficiency of industrial robots, and maybe Santa doesn’t pay them for their services.

Humans in manufacturing, on the other hand, need industrial automation systems like Indramat. If you find yourself needing any Indramat repairs, maintenance, or assistance this holiday season, give us a call.