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Best-In-Class Manufacturing

PART I. 

 

Introduction

Senior management too often chooses to concentrate its efforts in other areas, leaving manufacturing partially or totally unintegrated into the whole. Too many corporate myopias and parochial views place manufacturers in a less than desirable competitive position. Many have said, and some strongly profess, that America's economic future hinges on our ability to transform ourselves from a manufacturing to a service industry based economy. This position is fundamentally wrong, when one considers that a primary source for the creation of wealth begins with manufacturing. In addition, it is easy to understand the fundamental concept that our personal freedom rests on our economic freedom.

The competitive challenge necessitates a new corporate attitude about the increased importance of Best-In-Class Manufacturing. This will cause senior management to view manufacturing with renewed importance as part of an integrated corporate strategy. This renewed importance for manufacturing will require a better understanding of manufacturing strategy implications, tradeoffs, and manufacturing planning, execution, and control techniques to gain and maintain competitive advantage. We must also recognize that MRP, JIT, etc. by themselves are only a piece of the whole. A new perspective is needed. The old, and unfortunately some new, parochial views have caused many of us to be nearsighted and lose ground because of it. We have learned a hard lesson. One of our greatest areas of vulnerability was in taking for granted that we knew how to apply our own manufacturing techniques, and we were so good at manufacturing that no one could beat us at our own game. What must be understood by senior management is that planning, organizing, executing and controlling manufac­turing resources is one of the key cornerstones to a profitable and dominant competitive position. For the manufacturing professional, today and tomorrow present a great, but not easy, challenge to once again regain our strength in manufacturing.

In order to gain competitive superiority in a world economy, the development and implementation of an effective manufacturing strategy has become an essential, overriding mission for manu­facturers. Developing a highly competitive manufacturing strat­egy as an integral part of an overall corporate strategy is a vital part of the management process as a company develops its instincts for Best-In-Class Manufacturing.

Are You on Track?

Is your company firmly committed and involved with making manufacturing an integral part of the strategic planning process? After serious consideration, candid answers to the following 10 questions will help you benchmark how your organization is progressing toward the goal of Best-In-Class Manufacturing.

The scoring system is 10 points for yes and zero points for no answers. Nothing less than 100 points or 100% performance is really acceptable if Best-In-Class Manufacturing is an integral part of your company's strategy for competitive advantage.

• Do we have a formal, top management driven Sales and Operations Planning process for determining the capacity requirements, financial resources, cycle times, etc. to support anticipated customer demand?

• Does our organization thoroughly understand that excess inventory masks operational and quality problems, making it difficult to identify the specific cause for correction?

• Do we know the expected reduction in work-in-process and finished goods inventories from shorter cycle times?

• Has the entire organization developed the mindset to constantly identify problems and immediately resolve them?

• Are we working aggressively on the redesign of complicated products which are difficult to manufacture because they have been overdesigned?

• Does senior management thoroughly understand that they decide how important quality is and improvement begins from that point?

• Have we calculated the production capacity increase from a 75% or more reduction in current changeover times?

• Have we significantly reduced alternate sources of supply and made our primary vendors working partners?

• Do our performance measurements stimulate improvement in the right direction?

• Do we have a well-conceived, documented action plan that has the organization focused on and aggressively working on the right issues?

Is your company's score 100%? If it is, you are probably on the track to Best-In-Class Manufacturing and outperforming your competition which is the real goal. If your score is 80% or less, the result should stimulate useful thinking, discussion and, most importantly, immediate action to improve business performance.


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