Competitive Manufacturing Edge



Typical Tactics versus Operations Strategy

Even with today's knowledge, the vast majority of manufacturing functions are given by reactions to short-term issues. The drive to reduce inventory, increase output, reduce labor costs, etc. are often singular goals with a short life span. Once one of the goals is erased for a time it is usually replaced with another, that is of seemingly higher priority, because of a reaction to a particular issue of the time. Some senior managers are beginning to under­stand the strategic implications of a sound manufacturing strategy for strengthening the entire company. In the not too distant future, active recognition will be given to developing sound operational strategies and the unusually high ROI potential from opportunities which can no longer be ignored.

The strategic implications of manufacturing are, more often than not, far reaching corporate success factors companies need to be winners in the marketplace. In Figure 1, some general definitions appear for situations and goals. The break between Where are you? and Where do you want to be? is a graphic representation of manufacturing strategy providing the necessary linkage be­tween the current situation and a desired position.

Today's CEO must address many critical questions of manufac­turing operations strategy including:

• What impact will manufacturing operations have on the com­pany in terms of cost, quality, service and competitive advan­tage?

• What is the right approach for us to improve manufacturing control?

• What are the implementation priorities for planning, execution and control improvements?

• What resources will be required to support our needs in manufacturing?

Getting the right answers to these and other questions will require the manufacturing professional to become a full-fledged member of the corporate fold.

Strategy Impacts

Far too many companies do not have a formal manufacturing strategy planning process. One of the more important elements in the development of strategy, in this author's opinion, is the planning process itself rather that the resulting documented plan. Good application of the planning process requires constant, in-depth evaluation of markets, products, competitors, technol­ogy, and resource availability, among others. A comparative analysis of external factors to your internal situation will provide focus and refocusing over time. Companies that do not apply an external vs. internal comparative analysis are likely to drift and have little chance at developing an effective integrated manufac­turing strategy.


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