Robin's main task is to ensure that enough of the correct piece parts are available so that complete assembly kits can always be made up from the machined parts store. The assembly kits are made up to meet firm customer orders first, subject to a minimum batch of 25. If the order is for less than 25, the balance goes into the finished goods store. Robin has what seems to outsiders an uncanny memory for everything that is in the finished goods inventory and is apparently rarely wrong. This provides a considerable measure of influence in running operations, and Robin knows that Jan very much relies on Robin's skills in this regard.
The task of remembering exactly what is in the machined parts store is however, altogether more formidable: the company produces some 400 products requiring more than 20,000 separate piece parts. Many of these are left or right hand versions of the same bit of moulding, which often (but not always) go together in pairs. To further complicate matters, due to the particular difficulties of machining and matching timber, there is usually quite a high rate of rejects. This means that although you might have started out making 100 left and right hand pairs you could easily end up with 96 of one and 91 of the other. Ensuring that enough of the appropriate piece parts are available for the assembly kits is the major problem.
To make life even more exciting for Robin, Jan Pettigrew, the Operations Director, attempts to meet the Financial Director's control target of £45,000 worth of production per day. To achieve this, the bigger batches are progressed ahead of the smaller ones. These then sit on the shop floor somewhere, until eventually someone comes down from Sales chasing up an irate customer's late order. By this time, it is more than likely that the assembly kit has been raided for some piece to replace a damaged part for another assembly.