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