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  • Flexible manufacturing (Kidd, 1994): Flexibility is a requirement for the competitive markets of today.
  • Lean manufacturing: It involves doing everything with less. Cut away the excess of wasteful activities, unnecessary inventory, long lead times, and so on. The purpose of leaning manufacturing includes (1) just-in-time manufacturing, concurrent engineering, overhead cost reduction, improved supplier and customer relations, and total quality management (Womack et al., 1990).
  • Agile manufacturing: Agility is dynamic and open-ended. Agility is a name for the reorganization of production, adapted to distinctively new market forces that have undermined the mass production organization of business that dominated in the 20th century.It create a manufacturing firm that can produce in volume and simultaneously produce variety for market niches. Agile companies seek to combine the advantages of time compression with techniques to reduce the cost of variety. Toe goal is to offer almost instant delivery of small quantities of goods that meet individual specifications.To becomes agile a form must redesign it processes and products to meet the expectations of customers for both customization and responsiveness. Agility is dynamic, context-specific, aggressively change embracing, and growth oriented.
  • S.T.O.P stands for Strategy, Technology, Organization, and People.

Features of agility

  • Products: Agility is centered on the customer-perceived value of products. It aims to decouple cost of production and lot sizes.
  • Virtual organization: Internal and external co-operation are the strategies of choice. The aim is to bring agile products to market in minimum time by leveraging resources through cooperation.
  • Entrepreneurial: Organizations must organize to thrive on change and uncertainty.
  • Knowledge-based: Agility embraces the decentralization of authority and leveraging the value of human and information resources. (??)

Conceptual Agile manufacturing model

  • Virtual enterprise: An organization with a virtual organizational structure. It is of special interest because it places the greatest demands on a company to co-operate in achieving collaborative production.
  • Physically distributed teams and manufacturing: New types of logical infrastructures supporting agility and quick response reduce the time to reach global markets.
  • Rapid partnership: Improving the responsiveness of a firm to a changing market, requires a shared partnership between the core parts of the firm. Shared understanding of marketing and manufacturing is the starting point. Necessary is a shared understanding of the market itself. This is key in moving toward the ideal of a customer-driven, knowledge enterprise.
  • Concurrent engineering: The entrepreneurship of empowered teams is necessary to achieve success in agile competition. Rapid response to change requires that work be completed as rapidly as possible. This makes it necessary for people, functions and processes to work as much as possible in parallel. Concurrent engineering is synonymous with simultaneous engineering.
  • Integrated product/process/business information systems: Communications and information are the technical elements driving the next industrial revolution. They are central to agility. Information is increasingly diverse in from including not only computer text data, but multimedia pictures and voice data as well. It is possible today to have a database of photographs of customers, or employees, or products, and by clicking the picture with the mouse, to get data about the targeted picture item. Computer Assisted Logistics Management Systems (CALS) imply that a CALS is narrow in scope, when in fact, the use of CALS requires that all technical specifications, drawing, manuals, and other documents relating to products, form all levels of the supplier chain, be computerized.
  • Rapid prototyping: A prototype is a preliminary model of a system solution that end-users and/or designers can interact with and analyze. The prototype is constructed quickly and cheaply, ideally, within days or weeks.
  • Electronic commerce: Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the computer-to-computer exchange of standard business documents such as purchase orders, invoices, and bills of lading, among organizations. EDI can produce strategic benefits in that it can help firms increase market share by locking in their customers - making it easier for customers or distributors to order from them rather than competitors.

A framework for agile manufacturing

  • Enriching the customer: Becoming a customer-driven enterprise.
  • Co-operating to enhance competitiveness: Parnering firms within a physically distributed or virtual manufacturing enterprise.
  • Organizing to master change and uncertainty: Thrive on change and uncertainty. Its structure is flexible enough to allow rapid reconfiguration of human and physical resources.
  • Leveraging the impact of people and information: Continous work force education and training are integral to agile company operations. Companies must invest in information and manufacturing technologies that can contribute to agility.