niedziela, 28 sierpnia 2011

World Class Manufacturing - Definition

World Class Manufacturing is a different set of concepts, principles, policies and techniques for managing and operating a manufacturing company. It is driven by the results achieved by the Japanese manufacturing resurgence following World War II, and adapts many of the ideas used by the Japanese in automotive, electronics and steel companies to gain a competitive edge. It primarily focuses on continual improvement in quality, cost, lead time, flexibility and customer service.

World Class Manufacturing is a process-driven approach where implementations usually involve the following philosophies and techniques:

-Streamlined flow
-Small lot sizes
-Families of parts
-Doing it right the first time
-Cellular manufacturing
-Total preventive maintenance
-Quick changeover
-Zero Defects
-Just in time
-Variability reduction
-High employee involvement
-Cross functional teams
-Multi-skilled employees
-Visual signaling
-Statistical process control

Companies engaging in World Class Manufacturing strategies focus on improving operations, strive to eliminate waste and create lean organizations. This often results in higher productivity. But these companies also focus on speed of total throughput from order capture through delivery setting new standards for delivery without the heavy dependence on inventory. Sequential methods of performing work are being replaced with concurrent methods to compress time, and functional and hierarchical divisions of duties are being replaced by team-driven activities.

The Issues

World Class Manufacturing is a process-driven approach to improving manufacturing operations. It is often confused to mean standards of quality and image such as Rolls-Royce or Rolex.

It is in direct conflict with traditional capacity-driven manufacturing mentality found in western culture. The implementation will often surface resistance to change and "we've alway done it this way" arguments. The worse resistance is usually found in lower and middle management, but can also can be found in the mindset of workers as well. A case for change has to be created along with high employee involvement.

Capitalization is also a major issue when new equipment is required for quick changeover, faster cycle times, and flexibility in operations. Executives may take a piecemeal approach to save on investment costs as an alternative and find themselves disappointed with the lesser results.

Just like anything else, World Class Manufacturing is no panacea, nor should it be embraced as a religion. It is an operational strategy that, if implemented properly, will provide a new dimension to competing: quickly introducing new customerized high quality products and delivering them with unprecedented lead times, swift decisions, and manufacturing products with high velocity.

Pragmatic Applications

World Class Manufacturing techniques have been proven over and over, time and time again and offer alternatives to the traditional capacity-driven approaches of mass production and economic order quantities. Most WCM techniques can be applied in most process and discrete product manufacturing companies in both the factory and office. Benefits can be substantial depending upon the starting point. The best way to approach WCM is through rationalization of operations and identification of opportunities. Most of the time, payback periods tend to be 2 years or less.