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Influence of Quick Response Manufacturing Essay

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Updated: Sep 10th, 2022

Introduction

Quick response manufacturing is a concept employed by companies in reducing lead time while remaining competitive in the market. Quick Response Manufacturing is a strategic tool to “to cut lead times in all phases of manufacturing and office operations. It can bring your products to market more quickly and secure your business prospects by helping you compete in a rapidly changing manufacturing arena” (Quick Response Manufacturing 1). Companies realize more profit generation, improved time efficiency, and an overall effect of increasing on internal rate of return, net present value, and other return investment benefits in a time-based competitive environment. According to the article Quick response Manufacturing (1), this reduces the number of processes a product goes through in the manufacturing and value addition cutting the manufacturing life cycle of a product.

Companies employ this strategy by effectively identifying the size of their customer population and identifying the actual needs the customers have while tailoring products according to the actual needs of their customers. In addition to that, a company that strategically implements the Quick Response Manufacturing concept leads it to identify supply chain activities and efficiently identifies the need to access customers in a timely manner. QRM’s goal is for companies to reduce lead time and emphasize efficient utilization and allocation of resources using software products such as ERP and APS.

To realize all the benefits discussed above, the manufacturing company should implement the Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) and Shop Floor Data collection software and integrate them together within its workplace. The ERP consists of a number of modules implemented as per the QRM requirements. In addition to that, the company is compelled to introduce changes in line with the requirements of the new software to help it gain a strategic position in the market. Stalk and George (120) talk of the changes that must be introduced. These include office operations, data collection methods, and other organizational activities leading to efficient utilization of organizational resources (Suri 45).

Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM)

In a time when competition is rife in the manufacturing and product delivery services Quick Response Manufacturing QRM,) is a concept employed by manufacturing companies and other business concerns to reduce response time and manufacture products customized to the needs of the market. Mathaisel (122) asserts that for a manufacturing company to benefit from QRM, QRM must achieve lead time by integrating new and efficient approaches to time minimization in task completion, planning on the efficient utilization of resources, assessing and evaluating lead time, designing an organization into product-based lead cells, educate suppliers and customers on efficient and cost-effective deliveries, implement a quick response office, and customize organizational and customer mindsets to the new approach.

According to Suri (23) implementation of QRM critically focuses on Manufacturing Critical Path Time (MCT), Organizational structure, Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) lead time and QRM cell, efficient utilization of labor integrated into system dynamics, high and efficient utilization of machines by a manufacturing organization requiring it to operate at an 80 % capacity, emphasis on efficient batch size, lead time and thinking organization-wise, designing office operations by introducing management and software that flattens a manufacturing organization to reduce lead time, and planning on the efficient and cost-effective acquisition of materials and other resources for the manufacturing organization commonly referred to as manufacturing material planning.

The process of implementing QRM comes with positive and negative consequences. Suri (345) asserts that organizational employees must be taken through the likely changes and operations that may result from the new changes by embracing change management initiatives and incorporating them into a new organizational culture. In addition to that Mathaisel (258) notes that all elements and activities of an organization must be documented and an analysis done in line with MCT based on QRM’s sound principles. According to Davenport (2), this leads to a change in the way an organization is run and emphasizes a change of approach to task execution and new cell operational methods. In addition to that many tasks and activities within an organization in addition to the structure of the manufacturing, the organization must change. This is the most difficult part of the change management initiative. Besides the many constraints and setbacks, an organization may experience in the implementation process the structure of the organization and the way activities are conducted within the manufacturing company and the management must change.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

ERP also referred to as Enterprise Resource Planning is a software with many modules that are commonly used by manufacturing companies to enhance company production and management activities. Zhang (1) identifies ERP as“multi-module application software that integrates activities across functional departments, from product planning, parts purchasing, inventory control, product distribution, to order tracking. ERP software may include application modules for the finance, accounting, and human resources” and other views of a business organization.” Zhang (1) asserts that ERP modules interact when integrated in an organization or a manufacturing company in the context of achieving organizational goals and objectives. Thus business transactions and manufacturing activities are streamlined when this software is integrated into the company’s activities as discussed above. In this case, business process reengineering may not the core component and goal of the software.

According to Zhang (1), ERP constitutes modules similar to those of a management information system except that ERP is limited in scope in terms of implementation organization-wise. According to the article on Functional Modules of ERP Software (1), ERP constitutes a number of modules which are categorized into purchasing module, sales module, control modules, Human Resource modules, financial management modules, production and planning modules for manufacturing companies, and marketing modules. Once these modules have been integrated into the company’s system, then the company could realize an optimum yield from the investment. This could lead to improved productivity, increased value for goods, and real-time response to the market needs and other variables (Suri 234). According to the article, Functional Modules of ERP Software (1), the production planning module integrates planning activities and implementation strategies, forecasting activities, efficient use of the company’s manufacturing capacities, and efficient use of these resources.

Zhang (1) describes ERP as a collection of software consisting of ERP software modules. Zhang (1) asserts that ERP software integrates other business modules which work on functionally identified tasks within a manufacturing company. Zhang (1) notes that “Common ERP software modules include product planning, parts purchasing, inventory control, product distribution, order tracking, finance, accounting, and human resources aspects of an organization.” in addition to integrating organizational functional business levels. ERP is designed after the structural levels that constitute an organization in terms of functions. These include the planning level which identifies an organization’s strategic interests and plans which may be short-term or long-term plans and controls at the management level. Management controls define the hierarchies of management in relation to the efficient use of management information systems which are similar to ERP software, and operational activities. A company’s day-to-day activities all fall under operational functions and a management information system or ERP, hence the company should integrate functional modules which efficiently enable hierarchical tasks carried out at that level to be efficiently and effectively conducted. According to Zhang (1), the users of the ERP software are also key components of an organization. System efficiency will only be evaluated when it meets an organization’s employees’ needs in carrying out their activities in pursuing organizational goals and objectives besides offering them the required support in conducting those activities. These employees are found at the top-level management, middle-level management, and operational level of an organization.

To effectively implement the ERP software, Zhang (1) asserts that an application that acts as a platform upon which the system runs includes a number of operating systems. The choice of the operating system stems from hardware and software needs. This in effect constitutes operating systems like UNIX, Windows, and many others (Zhang 1). Zhang (1) sees these implementations as lying within an organization which in effect houses the system.

ERP Implementation

Manufacturing companies and other organizations have strategic plans for implementing ERP systems using different approaches. According to Frantz, Southerland, and Johnson (3), these approaches include conducting a pilot study. The system is studied on a small scale before it is introduced into the whole organization. Other strategies include phased approaches where the system is introduced and integrated gradually into an organization. Another approach is where two systems run parallel where the old and the new run concurrently. This approach has the disadvantage of constraining systems or organizational resources and tends to reduce an organization’s efficiency in conducting its activities. The final approach is where the system is introduced and integrated into organizational activities and management at once. According to the article, 8 Steps to Successful Software Implementation (1) this approach has the disadvantage of a catastrophic failure or adverse impact on the whole of an organization should it fail to function as required. This approach is most effective for a system that has already been tested and found to meet all requirements spelled out in a company’s implementation plans.

Other implementation methodologies include the modular implementation approach (ERP Implementation Methodologies 1). According to this method, each ERP module is implemented, tested and validated, and verified to be in accordance with the system and organizational requirements. Each department must be fully operational in terms of the functionality of the system before implementing the same system in other departments. The risks associated with software failures and implementation failures are highly mitigated.

In addition to this implementation strategy, another approach to system implementation is on the basis of the kind of processes performed by each department in a company or organization. This is commonly referred to as a process-oriented approach. The article, ERP Implementation Methodologies (1) asserts that “The initial customization of the ERP system is limited to functionality closely related to the intended business processes”. Companies can utilize this approach by implementing the software based on the process functions of each level of management and their activities.

The aspect of Implementation of Quick Response Manufacturing

Quick response manufacturing is a concept whose implementation is based on the need for a company or an organization to be strategically ahead of its competitors in terms of manufacturing and delivery of products into the market in a timely manner. This strategy commonly referred to as time-based competition is a competitive tool and approach that reduces the planning, manufacturing, and delivery of products into the market by integrating certain aspects. Markets are dynamic and require management strategies that are dynamic with the changing market trends. Such trends include product differentiation or design, new products designs, and changing demand for particular products. Hence manufacturing companies model their own Quick Response Manufacturing institutions after the QRM model.

Various tools are used to achieve the QRM model in a manufacturing environment. Inclusive are lead time definitions. Lead time is identified in the manufacturing context as the time taken by a product to reach the destination or customer from the time production commenced to the final product. In essence, this integrates the critical path method in determining a product’s critical path period.

To integrate ERP and the above-mentioned software into the manufacturing organization, various aspects have to be considered to ensure smooth transition and integration of process activities in addition to ensuring strategic advantages to the manufacturing company.

Suri (23) asserts that the manufacturing company’s hierarchical processes must be flattened by QRM where the interrelated activities are broken down into one unit. This approach ensures that software products used by the company run and break organizational hierarchies into a flat organization. Communication besides being instant is also direct and the response is also direct in this scenario. All the modules earlier discussed are integrated into the ERP software by flattening the manufacturing company. The modules interact or interface interactively to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives.

The system architecture is clearly defined and it’s implementation-specific calling upon the system components of the JD Edwards world A9 and the RFgen shop floor data collection software to be interactively integrated. The latter software must be synchronized with other software products to effectively deliver data into the appropriate destination particularly into the manufacturing company’s database for easy access, retrieval, and use. The architecture of the system must be compliant with the ERP software and the wireless systems.

QRM Implementation

The manufacturing company has to consider various factors and a number of issues when implementing QRM. The manufacturing company must factor in the organization’s culture and employee mindset on time-related manufacturing. The organization’s management is required to identify time wastes due to activities that may not be time-efficient. Thus a target has to be set for the company to educate employees about that mindset as the first phase of implementing QRM. This follows a change in the structure of the organization to embrace the new approach to data collection and computer-aided manufacturing. According to Mathaisel (124) “The QRM program has to be implemented in both shop-floor and office operations” and integration of policies that define QRM in all manufacturing arms of the company. Then training follows after cell introduction. These activities must be fully compliant with organizational needs and the advanced planning and implementation procedures (Automatic Pattern search 1). In addition to launching cells, it’s incumbent upon the management and the change team to make system-wide integration of change activities and to strategize on how to maximize profits and data collection and system synchronization activities. In addition to that Mathaisel (124) clarifies that implementation constraints must be well anticipated and prepared for.

Various issues must be addressed in implementing ERP, APS, and shop floor data collection software.

QRM and APS

The implementation of APS on QRM comes with a host of benefits. APS software plays multiple roles by simultaneously enabling efficient allocation of raw materials and efficiently utilizing the manufacturing arm of the organization. The manufacturing capacity of the organization is quickly identified and aligned with the requirements, product needs, and demands (Advance Planning and Scheduling System 1). This software leads to resource optimization and efficient profiteering for an organization. In addition to that, the software can significantly be used in forecasting, provide real-time information on sales, and has integrated abilities to create both purchase and sales orders. This has the overall effect of improving the competitiveness of a manufacturing concern as it can be implemented in other software architectures with which it may be compatible.

Implementing APS on QRM is designed to overcome specific constraints experienced by the manufacturing company. According to the article Production Scheduling Software Portal (1), implementing APS on QRM is designed to overcome various constraints among them being low manufacturing efficiency and poor utilization of machinery and other resources, low energy optimization, low delivery speeds particularly in shipping, reduced costs on labor due to overtime payments, speed and inventory of raw materials and products in relation to demand and supply schedules, quick inventor of other goods such as finished products.

According to the article Production Scheduling Software Portal (1), if the system is well integrated into QRM in addition to other systems such as Preactor International, it makes quick response manufacturing an ideal economic undertaking. “These planning and scheduling applications consider not just production capacity constraints, but also inventory and bill of material constraints, inventory stocking, and replenishment levels” (Production Scheduling Software Portal 1). It continues to assert that “The software helps users predict when a forecast can be executed, which plant to run which production in and make accurate promise dates to customers” (Production Scheduling Software Portal 1).

Shop Floor Data Collection System

The shop floor data collection system must be integrated into QRM and work with other software in a compatible mode within an industrial environment. According to the shop floor data collection system (1), the system provides solutions to problems that plague employers’ inefficient utilization of employees in the workplace and other issues such as absenteeism, employee productivity, data collection, and other job and work-related activities. The article, shop floor data collection system (1) continues to affirm that the system is designed to work in a factory environment where the use of simple terminals and LCD screens, scanners, electromagnetic devices such as relays, and software that runs in a PC with terminals and other data collection components within the parent system is used. The article shop floor data collection system (1) asserts that after an order has been placed for a specific item or product, the order number must be displayed in text and barcode form. Once integrated into the structure or design of the product, the movement of the product from one employee to the other in the production process can be monitored continuously, thus providing actual information on the productivity of each employee in the system. The article, shop floor data collection system (2) identifies various benefits which come with the implementation of this system and these include ease of use of the system whereupon it does not require much training on its usage, the number of jobs that can be processed is large in addition to providing real-time data on the status of each job in the production process. In addition, time can be saved by identifying the particular job needed to be done at a particular time.

The article, shop floor data collection system (2) further provides details about the benefits of accessing and evaluating real costs associated with each operation in addition to creating an accurate schedule or timesheet for task performance. Implementation of this system integrated with QRM accounts for other benefits the manufacturing organization is bound to enjoy inclusive of the ability to identify and precisely locate constraints in the manufacturing process. With access to a company’s local area network, an organization’s management can easily identify system processes and problems or needs associated with each stage of the production process. The article notes that shop floor data collection system (3) company statistical information can be obtained and analyzed while machine usage can be efficiently used during maintenance and repair, and queries can be entered into the manufacturing system to provide up to date information on system state.

Implementation Constraints

Several implementation constraints have to be overcome in the process.

One of the constraints in implementing ERP, Preactor International, shop floor data collection software, and APS on QRM are issues of compatibility. The software requirements for each product are wide and varied. Each vendor comes with different operational requirements. The requirements must be compatible with the manufacturing company’s standards.

The need to integrate these software products into the QRM of the company however must override the anticipated constraints.

Integrating QRM

Quick response manufacturing must be integrated with a number of software products already discussed above to achieve the manufacturing company’s goals and objectives. The implementation strategy of QRM and the software products is vital in ensuring the integrated products work efficiently and effectively in achieving organizational goals and objectives. The implementation strategy must envisage elements of the architecture of the software products and the implementation strategies of QRM. The implementation must ensure all components of the applications and the functions coordinate well to ensure the smooth running of the manufacturing concern and efficient interaction modes.

ERP modules must be portable with APS software and a Shop Floor Data collection system. According to the article Integrating APS and ERP is Getting Easier (1) one method of integrating is to plan the implementation process. Suri (498) identifies a number of strategies for implementing and integrating these software products into the organization. Suri (498) discusses the strategies by identifying the need for top management’s commitment to the implementation and integration process. This envisages traditional “reporting structures, and functional boundaries” (Suri 498). In addition to that Suri (501) asserts that advantages will be obtained in integrating one system with another about lead time in manufacturing, and the level or ability of the system to be successfully deployed without the risk of failure. In addition to that, the implementation process calls upon a clear understanding of the functions of each module of all the software products and implementing the products according to their functional tasks. The organization must be conversant with the technical aspects of each software product and how the software modules work together in the pursuit of lead time benefits and QRM.

Suri (501) notes that the laid down plan for the integration process must start by creating a team for implementing and integrating the software products. The planning team comprising of representatives from each functional group should be well skilled in identifying the actual software and system requirements to make them compatible with the manufacturing activities of the company. Once the team has designed, planned, and had management approval, the team must set a vision and spell out objectives to achieve the integration strategy. By the use of appropriate data gathered over time, the system integration team should define the scope, refine the scope, and set specific integration goals. The team must rely on the approval of the management in the implementation and integration process. According to Suri (503), the team assigned with integrating these software products must perform further data gathering and evaluation procedures and map out how the integration process will be done. Suri (505) discusses the need to brainstorm the management and other stakeholders on the integration and implementation methodologies in addition to targeting the reduction of lead time and specifying each team’s activities clearly.

Suri (505) acknowledges that the implementation and integration team must be well skilled in task implementation and must embrace the organization’s mindset.

Integrating software products into the manufacturing arm of the company’s system will come with a host of benefits including the core concepts of reducing lead time envisaged in QRM. Without going into technical details about the functionalities of the software the implementation and integration are modeled as illustrated below.

Integrating QRM

Integrating QRM, software, and add-ons to the manufacturing organization.

  • ERP (Enterprise Resource Scheduling)
  • Modules (Purchasing, Human Resource, Control, marketing, Planning and Production, Finance, Sales)
TMS Software

Diagrammatic view of the architecture of one of the APS software integrated into QRM of the manufacturing company.

The integration process should be planned and carried out by trained personnel. In addition to that, the plan must clearly outline the functional requirement of each management and operations level of the company. A clear strategy must be integrated into the plan that will identify the methodology of implementing the software in line to make the company competitive in lead time and product design, production, and distribution.

As illustrated above each level of organizational structure has to integrate modules from each application and add-ons so that each module can communicate or talk with another to ensure process synchronization and real-time communication of data for effective task execution. The applications interact at their interfaces and appropriate drivers or ports must be designed to act as a middleware for task and communication synchronization. Each module is interdependent. The interdependent nature of these applications when well integrated into all of the organizational processes will flatten the organization as clearly illustrated in the diagram.

Effects of Implementing QRM on the Software Products

As discussed above QRM’s main goal is to reduce the lead time within a manufacturing organization and outside of an organization. This will enhance the organization’s ability to efficiently utilize resources at its disposal, be at a competitive edge with other market forces and business organizations in addition to ensure quick response to market needs and trends in products design and delivery.

Once ERP is implemented on QRM, resources will be utilized efficiently in terms of allocation and utilization. This ensures reduced resource wastages by planning well while factoring the whole enterprise in terms of the available resources such as machinery and their critical use. Planning on materials’ scheduling mechanisms will lead to reduced lead time and cost-effective manufacturing.

Conclusion

Integrating software products and QRM comes with a host of benefits. In addition to that, the major goal of QRM can be achieved but several constraints and organizational changes must be overcome in addition to using trained personnel in the integration process. However, a cost-benefits analysis calculated on the IRR and other project appraisal techniques qualify the project to be a feasible venture.

Recommendations

Deducing from the foregoing discussion the manufacturing concern may benefit from QRM and integrated technologies by employing skilled personnel in educating employees on major changes to be introduced. The organization’s management should identify and examine software products’ architecture and portability and emphasize post-implementation and maintenance issues from different vendors.

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