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Cellular production is a workplace design mainly applicable in the manufacturing industry. It involves the division of the floor space into small units or cells that can accommodate the manufacturing and assembling of complete products or complex components of a specific product (Meredith & Shafer, 2010). A good example of a workplace that would greatly benefit from such a workplace design is a vehicle manufacturing and assembly industry. The design works by grouping of machinery according to the parts they produce. Machines that produce similar products by geometry or components end up close together for purposes of efficiency in the production process.
Cellular production would be a great option for the final project because its benefits outweigh its demerits. One of the advantages of the process that also form part of the reasons for its application is its efficient nature (Meredith & Shafer, 2010). In contrast to the traditional progressive production layout in most manufacturing plants, cellular production ensures minimal disruption in the production process through the amount of autonomy that each cell gets. It is easier to maintain machinery in each cell and replace faulty parts without causing undue delays in the entire production process as the rest of the cells to run unaffected by the inconveniences in that particular cell. It is also possible to upgrade machinery in particular cells without having to stop the production process. Secondly, cellular production increases product quality. The amount of focus placed on each item produced in a cell is higher in comparison to mass production in the traditional progressive production workplace design (Lencioni, 2009, p.8). It is also easier to detect and correct defects ensuring better product quality.
Another advantage is that it is cost-effective. In most cases, workers in each cell possess the ability to operate most or all the machinery in their cell, thus reducing the need to employ numerous single-skilled workers. This move saves capital input expenses for the company and increases the amount of funding available for enhancing the production process. It also reduces wastage of resources as each unit or cell only produces what it needs. Machine maintenance is also easier due to grouping as most machines applicable in a cell possess similar components or perform common functions. Another advantage is that cellular production encourages team building, an aspect of management that is crucial in ensuring that workers understand and undertake to accomplish a company’s goals in unison (Bateman & Snell, 2011). In most cases, the goal in cellular production is the creation of value for the consumer by the production of a substantial variety of high-quality products, which increases consumption and overall profits for the company. Lastly, the semi-autonomous nature of each cell reduces the need for constant supervision as workers in each cell take stock of their work at their station and can devise the most suitable work schedules and strategies (Madunic, 2009).
One of the main disadvantages is that the implementation of the cellular production model is expensive as it involves the purchase of multiple types of machinery serving the same purpose. This scenario is especially evident in companies transitioning from the traditional progressive production model to the cellular production model (Meredith & Shafer, 2010). A company would also need to fund the training of its employees to ensure that each worker possesses multiple skills, thus providing more value to the company. The implementation of the work model can also prove challenging, especially the division of labor and arrangement of cells to ensure efficient movement of material in the workplace.
The main guarantees that a company can make about the consumer about the actualization of cellular production are product quality, variety, and timely delivery. Concentration on the production of particular products in each cell ensures that the likelihood of defects in the products is dismal. It is easier for workers within a cell to select the materials they need for production and use methods that result in the production of quality products. Detection of defects in products is also easier in the cellular production process for ensuring that the consumer gets the best. The application of teamwork necessary in this model enables workers to share ideas and expertise on the manufacture of products and solve problems with minimal supervision from the management department. The sense of ownership of the process that the workers get ensures that they apply their best efforts, and thus attain satisfaction with the outcome (Madunic, 2009). The division of tasks can also sometimes lead to competition among the various cells, increasing the workers’ potential to produce high-quality products.
The division of tasks into cells also enables the creation of variety in production as each cell can produce finished products. Therefore, different cells can produce different varieties of the same product at the same time. The reduction in supervisory functions of the management team also encourages innovative ideas in the creation of products resulting in unique products, designs, and functions from the same company. Cellular production guarantees timely delivery of goods as disruptions in the functions of a singular cell do not necessarily affect the functions of other cells. Therefore, although there might be a reduction in the number of products produced at a time when a particular cell ceases to function, production continues and consumers can access goods on time.
Unlike most production models that rely on specialization in the fulfillment of certain tasks in the workplace, the cellular distribution model applies the use of teamwork in the fulfillment of tasks. The main advantage of this aspect is that employees work together towards the same goal, hence making its achievement easier (Lencioni, 2009). Unlike specialization, teamwork creates a diversity of ideas in the generation of solutions to problems that face individual workers in the fulfillment of their tasks. Workers learn from each other and produce innovative products to the benefit of the company and the consumer.
Teamwork also eliminates competition among individuals working towards the same purpose, thus reducing instances of workers sabotaging each other’s efforts. Therefore, working together increases the company’s overall chances of success in its operations. Another advantage of teamwork lies in its potential for improved communication. Improvement of communication among workers working as a team makes it easier to detect problems and provide timely solutions as opposed to situations in which each works alone on a specific task. Teamwork saves the company’s resources, especially finances, as it eliminates instances in which certain individuals produce too much or too little of certain products. Working together ensures that each individual produces what the others need in the right amount reducing wastage.
The main challenges that the cellular production model exhibit lie in employee training and appropriate organization of the workplace and the distribution of labor. The management has to ensure that each unit has sufficient machinery and that the machines are in the right order to create efficient flow in the production process. Imparting several skills in a single individual can also prove challenging as each employee has to master various tasks to enable him or her to operate several machines within his or her cell at any given time. However, once properly attained, these challenges fade in comparison to the benefits of the overall model to the company and the consumers.
Bateman, T., & Snell, A. (2011). Management: Leading and collaborating in the competitive world. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Lencioni, P. (2009). Teamwork, leadership, and suffering. Focus, 6(1), 8-9.
Madunic, M. Choosing a project team: The effects of interdependence and prior transacting in engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) projects. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest LLC.
Meredith, J., & Shafer, M. (2010). Operations management for MBAs. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.