According to Maskell, World-Class manufacturing generally includes the, following:
- A new approach to product quality
- Just-in-time (JIT) production techniques
- Change in the way the workforce is managed; and
- A flexible approach to customer requirements
In terms of-quality, the World-Class manufacturing approach emphasises on the resolution of the problems that cause poor quality, rather than mere detection of those problems. The purpose is to systematically resolve the root causes of quality problems so that the company can ideally achieve zero defects or 100 per cent quality. A second aspect of the new approach is that quality control responsibility is placed on floor with the production operators. The operators are responsible for doing their own quality control and a ‘pride of ownership’ attitude is fostered.
The purpose of JIT manufacturing is to change the production so that inventory not immediately required for production is eliminated.
This goal is achieved by:
- Change of the shop-floor layout to reduce the movement of materials
- Reduction in production set-up times so that products can be made in very small batches
- Synchronizing the manufacturing process so that sub-assemblies and components are available just when they are needed and not” before or after)
- Creating mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers, using techniques such as single sourcing, certification and openness.
People management is the most difficult problem to solve when introducing World-class manufacturing, as it requires fundamental changes in management style and philosophy. Some of the new approaches to the management of people are:
- Transfer of Responsibility: A World-Class manufacturer should give operators greater control of their daily work. They will have prime responsibility for product quality, scheduling preventive maintenance and for attaining production targets.
- Education and Cross-Training: World-Class manufacture spends lot of time and money to educate their employees in areas such as JIT manufacturing, quality control and customer service as well as train them to do a wide range of tasks within the production plant. This cross training of people allows greater flexibility because operators can be moved between tasks.
- Problem-Solving and Quality Circles: The purpose of quality circles is to have every employee involved in solving production (and other) problems. These programmes have been very successful in many companies because they create an environment of team involvement and common cause, which enables people, who previously had very little opportunity to contribute, to become innovative and resourceful problem-solvers.
As for flexibility, there are two aspects of flexibility that are important:
- Production Flexibility: It is achieved when the company can offer short lead times, when the product mix within the plant can be changed significantly from day to day, and when people within the plant are cross-trained to manufacture a wider range of products.
A company that can offer this level of flexibility to its customers (without a price penalty), has a significant competitive advantage.
- Design Flexibility: It is related to the company’s ability to introduce new products and modifications to current products. A company must be able to understand the current and future needs of its customers, to develop innovative products and to get those products to the market place quickly.