Competitive Manufacturing Edge



Charting the Course

In charting a course for manufacturing strategy development (Figure 2), the pro­cess itself is second only to results. Back to basics has become somewhat of a management practice cliche, yet a truism for so many. Although seemingly unfortunate, the back to basics mandate is the foundation from which a spring­board can result. The enigmatic planning, execution and control problems that exist in most manufacturing companies must be solved immediately so that we ensure the factory has a future before one can implement something such as Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM). This is not to say that management should not be planning for CIM because it requires thorough definition and understanding before it can possibly live up to its prom­ise. The definition and understanding for CIM will be derived, to a large extent, from the analysis required to develop a long-term manufacturing strategy. Whether it's back to basics, CIM or somewhere in between it is certain that manufacturing strategy provides a solid and necessary foundation for a clear and agreed upon direction so that informed and timely decisions can be made with a comfortable degree of confidence.

The mission for the manufacturing func­tion is often not directly correlated and connected to overall corporate strategy. The focus on manufacturing is usually in some isolated and often vague objective for cost reduction, yield improvement, etc. without regard to an overall game plan. Worse is when total concentration is not at all in line with business needs, for example, on cost reduction when what is really needed is better quality and faster, more reliable response to custom­ers.

A coordinated manufacturing strategy should address key issues as they relate to the overall direction of the business. Some of the key performance improve­ment objectives could be:

• Cost to produce down 25 %

• Manufacturing lead time decreased by 75%

• Overall cycle time decreased by 60% +

• Inventory down 50% +

• Cost of quality reduced by 60% +

• Factory floor space reduced by 50% +

• Material costs down 10% +

• Ontime performance to promise 98% +

There are, of course, many others, but the important point is that the strategy for manufacturing must be appropriately developed for your company and implemented before your competition gets too far ahead.


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