Introduction to POLCA

Introduction to POLCA brochure
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Event details

Date: October 20, 2021
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Central Time)
Location: Fluno Center, Madison, Wisconsin
Registration deadline Extended: October 18, 2021

POLCA: The People-friendly Production Control System for High-mix, Low-volume and Custom Products

POLCA (Paired-cell Overlapping Loops of Cards with Authorization) is a card-based visual control system that manages the flow of jobs through the shop floor: at each operation, it controls which job should be worked on next to meet delivery targets. POLCA ensures that upstream operations use their capacity effectively by working on jobs that are needed downstream, while at the same time preventing excessive work-in-process (WIP) buildups when bottlenecks appear unexpectedly. POLCA is particularly suited to companies manufacturing high-mix, low-volume and custom products, for which Kanban systems do not work well. These companies often struggle with long lead times, late deliveries, and daily expediting. POLCA has delivered impressive results in such companies, including 50-75% reduction in inventory and lead times, and on-time delivery improved to over 98%.

POLCA Builds on the Capabilities of People in the System

Many software-based scheduling systems lose sight of the fact that such systems are deployed by people who need to buy in to the system and support it. In contrast, experience with many companies has shown that people on the front line like using POLCA, and they help to ensure that it works well.

POLCA Eliminates the Daily Stress of Hot Jobs

The visual signals from POLCA enable employees to react quickly to shop floor realities such as bottlenecks, part shortages, and customer expedites without getting lost in the complexity. As problems are eliminated, management and supervisors’ time is liberated to focus on strategic improvements instead of daily fire-fighting.

The Crowning Aspect of POLCA is that it is Simple

Utilizing POLCA does not require any complex software implementation: it can be used without an ERP system or it can seamlessly complement an existing ERP system.

What you will learn:

  • Why MRP and Kanban don’t work well in low-volume and custom environments
  • How POLCA works; Benefits of POLCA (with industry case studies)
  • Steps for implementing POLCA in your company

Rajan Suri, Founding Director

Professor Rajan Suri
Rajan Suri, QRM Center Founding Director

Rajan Suri served as Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1985-2008. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Cambridge University (England) and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Suri founded the Center for Quick Response Manufacturing in 1993, envisioning a consortium of companies that would work in partnership with the university and with each other to understand and implement lead time reduction strategies.

He is author of the two QRM books, Quick Response Manufacturing: A Companywide Approach to Reducing Lead Times (1998) and It’s About Time: The Competitive Advantage of Quick Response Manufacturing (2010), as well as the first book on POLCA: The Practitioner’s Guide to POLCA (2018).

Suri has consulted for leading firms including Alcoa, AT&T, Boeing, Danfoss, Ford, Harley-Davidson, Hewlett Packard, IBM, John Deere, National Oilwell Varco, Pratt & Whitney, Rockwell Automation and TREK Bicycle. Consulting assignments in Europe and the Far East, along with projects for the World Bank, have given him an international perspective on manufacturing competitiveness.

Suri has received awards from the American Automatic Control Council, The Institute of Management Sciences, and the IEEE. In 1999, Suri was made a Fellow of Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), and in 2006 he received SME’s Sargent Award for the creation and implementation of Quick Response Manufacturing strategy. In 2010, Suri was inducted into the Industry Week 2010 Manufacturing Hall of Fame for the development of QRM and his efforts in helping U.S. manufacturers stay competitive.

Event Schedule

Continental breakfast and check-in starting at 8:30 a.m. (Central Time)

Course from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (includes lunch and two breaks)

Networking reception from 4:45 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Lodging at the Fluno Center

Fluno CenterLodging is not included in the event registration fee, but we have reserved a room block at a special rate for this event. To reserve a guest room, use the online event registration page or contact the Fluno Center by phone at 1-877-773-5866 (toll-free) or 608-441-7117.  Cutoff date for the room block rate is September 19, 2021.

COVID-19 Updates from the Fluno Center

After sixteen months we are excited to welcome all our guests to the Fluno Center. We have been preparing for our reopening for weeks by cleaning and sanitizing the entire building as well as training our staff on all necessary protocols to create a safe and healthy environment throughout the building.

At this time, masks are required when visiting the Fluno Center and we will continue to follow all Federal, State, and Dane County health and safety guidelines. Please click on the link below to view our commitment to you and what we ask you to do to help create and sustain a healthy environment. These protocols are also posted throughout the building and in every guest room.

For all our potential guests, please take comfort in knowing that you will feel safe when you walk through our doors. For all our first-time guests, welcome. And for all our returning guests, we welcome you back.

COVID Protocols

Course Fees

$395 per person

Discounted fee for QRM Center members: $245 per person

Fee covers training session and workbook, lunch, a copy of The Practitioner’s Guide to POLCA and the networking reception following the workshop.


Registration deadline: October 15, 2021

Register for this event