Competitive Manufacturing Edge



MRP versus JIT: The Superfluous Debate

There has been, and maybe there will be more, argument con­cerning the value and continuing life of Manufacturing Resource Planning with the advent of Just-in-Time manufacturing tech­niques. Some have described and prescribed JIT as the ultimate fix for a manufacturing company. Certainly, it would be foolish not to allocate resources to disentangle the confused, disorderly manufacturing environment. Developing an improved manufac­turing environment by eliminating as much waste as possible with minimum setup times, quality at the source, level schedules, minimum inventories, fewer interruptions in process flow, etc. will dramatically improve performance in manufacturing compa­nies.

Yet, some people are of the mindset that MRP and JIT are mutually exclusive. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the techniques and tools, when used in a proper combination provide opportunities to improve:

• The Planning Process

— Functional Coordination

— Process Controls

— Execution of Plans

All of which can only translate into better managing the many and seemingly, unmanageable operating problems. Hence, overall financial and competitive performance are significantly improved. The companies that employ the necessary tools and techniques will be the companies on the leading edge of performance in the marketplace.

Confronting the Challenge

The future for American manufacturing is bright, but the future cannot be a reflection of the past. It is very clear that only the manufacturing firms with the highest level of applied management skill are likely to survive in world competition. It is very certain, and currently so painfully self-evident for some, that manufactur­ing is the battleground and the competitive weapon that is required to win.

While some companies have recognized manufacturing as a potent competitive weapon, and have developed their strategy accord­ingly, there are still far too many companies with the manufac­turing function isolated from the whole. The existence of the wide gap between current and desirable practices in strategic manufac­turing management provides most companies with an unusually fertile area for improving competitive advantage.

The reality is that manufacturing can become a competitive weapon. Once this reality is fully appreciated, top management will rebalance their focus of emphasis and hopefully the necessary instinct for Manufacturing Excellence will result.

We must never forget that any competitive challenge, in which we are involved, has but one goal—to win. The way manufactur­ers choose to compete for the highest score is likely to be in developing and implementing a successful manufacturing strat-


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