According to Schonberger’s (1986), the goal of world-Class Manufacturing (WCM) is ‘continual and rapid improvement’. He argues that continual improvement in quality, cost, lead time, customer service and flexibility will lead to ‘World-Class’ status. The WCM status can be achieved by any of the two parallel paths: the quality path, and the JIT production path. These are dominant WCM precepts for treating the ailment. The JIT precept is based on the JIT principle-the smaller the lot size, the better. WCMs of cars, tractors, and motorcycles have some lot sizes down to one unit by becoming adept at changeovers between models. The second precept is the total quality control (TQC) principle-do it right the first time. A third set of precepts is called total productive maintenance (TPM)-a regime of comprehensive maintenance activity, carried out largely by the operator (the “owner”) of the equipment and not by a maintenance specialist the objective of which is to ensure zero downtime of equipment.
While the JIT concept is natural in flow industries, it can work in discrete goods manufacturing also. A WCM precept is to produce some of every type every day and in the quantities sold that day. Making more than that can be sold is costly and wasteful, and the cost and waste is magnified manifold as the resulting lumpiness in the demand pattern ripples back through all prior stages of manufacture, including on bid supplier. In Schonberger’s opinion, if a WCM effort fails to make it easier for marketing to sell the product, then something is wrong. He advocates for cellular manufacturing, deviation reduction and variability reduction. While cellular manufacturing will help achieve improvement in quality, cost, delays, flexibility, worker skills, lead time, inventory performance, scrap, equipment ‘up-time’ and a host of other factors, deviation reduction should take care of zero defect and reductions in lead time.
GUNN’S MODEL OF WORLD CLASS MANUFACTURING
According to Gunn (1987), World-Class manufacturing rests on three pillars: computerintegrated manufacturing (CIM), total quality control (TQC) and just-in-time (JIT) production methods. These are the three fundamental approaches in modem manufacturing which may enable a manufacturer to gain competitive advantage for reaching World-Class status. He proposes Arthur Young’s Manufacturing for Competitive Advantage framework to illustrate this point (Figure 2.3). This framework starts with a business unit’s strategic vision at the top, which embodies the overall business objectives of the unit. This vision is based upon two different frames of reference-the first is that of the global markets in which the manufacturer competes, and the other is that of its global competitors.
The next level, in the framework is integrated manufacturing. This has one dimension of the entire range of activities, consisting of product and process design, to manufacturing planning and control, to the production, process itself, to distribution, and to after-sales service and support; and the other dimension consisting of customers and suppliers.
The framework also shows that the main interface from integrated manufacturing has been through the distribution function. However, according to Gunn, all the five functions within manufacturing should be engaged in an ongoing dialogue with their customers.
The fact that CIM, TQC, and IIT are shown together and equally under integrated manufacturing in the framework, has some important implications. First, by showing CIM and JIT together, the indication is that there is nothing mutually exclusive about the two, nor is there anything mutually exclusive between JIT concepts and manufacturing resource planning (MRP), a part of CIM.
Moreover, by showing all three together, it is implied that all three must be addressed at once in any overall programmes to gain competitive advantage in manufacturing.
The Manufacturing for Competitive Advantage framework provides a logically rigorous, complete and yet easy-to-understand view of a global manufacturer’s environment. It can be used as a means for discussion in order to appraise whether the company is addressing all aspects of what it takes to become a world Class manufacturer.