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
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
• 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.
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.