Tools for World Class Operations
With the rapid spread of globalisation, there have been many changes in the business world. A significant change has been the global shift towards achieving total quality management. This is largely due to increasing awareness about quality among both organisations and customers. As a result, organisations aim to set high standards for their manufacturing process so that they can provide products and services of high quality to their customers.
To achieve world class standards in their operations, more and more companies are adopting the best tools and practices with the aim of maximising production, reducing costs, eliminating waste and delivering quality products
Table of Content
Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing is a Japanese philosophy that involves acquiring quality products at the right time and at the right place. JIT manufacturing was developed and applied for the first time at Toyota by Taiichi Ohio in 1988. The goal of JIT manufacturing is to improve customer service, match resource utilisation with delivery from suppliers to reduce inventory levels and prevent delays in the manufacturing process.
The Association for Operations Management, APICS, defines JIT as a philosophy of manufacturing based on planned elimination of all waste and on continuous improvement of productivity.
Thus, the core objective of JIT is to simplify processes by eliminating wastes (the activities or elements that do not add any value to the final products or services). Several activities can be regarded as waste in the production process, such as unplanned movement of materials, accumulating extra inventory or using defective production methods.
Irrespective of the size of plants or exclusivity in facilities and products manufactured, the JIT philosophy is the same. It is based on the following factors:
- Design products for economical production: The products must be designed within the constraints of affordable production facilities and processes. Thus, modularity and simplicity must be the focus of design engineers while designing products.
- Modify plant layouts to facilitate ‘flow’ manufacturing: It has been observed that 90 per cent of total manufacturing lead times consists of non-production time. Therefore, changes should be incorporated in the plant layout of the product to reduce the lead time and increase productivity
- Develop worker-involvement programmes (quality circles): These programmes must be developed to tap the knowledge of the manufacturing process of employees. For this, employees must be trained to develop methods for eliminating waste of all forms.
- Improve data accuracy: The management should be responsible for maintaining accuracy of production data, and appropriate programmes must be developed to measure it. “Bad data” is of no use, whether computerised or manual.
- Reduce inventories: Efforts should be made to eliminate the accumulation of goods. Large quantities of goods should be reduced to support the ‘flow manufacturing’ methods. Further, a strong partnership needs to be established between the management and the vendor to carry out this process efficiently.
- Strive for continuous improvement: Organisations must establish specific goals of production and take necessary steps to achieve 100 per cent data accuracy, zero scrap, zero inventory, etc. This results in continuous improvement of the manufacturing process.
Kanban can mean a sign board in a store or shop. It is a Japanese word meaning ‘you can see’. In the context of quality management, it simply means any small sign displayed to a worker instructing him/ her to perform the required task.
Organisations make use of kanban to ensure the following:
- No extra production occurs.
- Priorities in production become visible
- Control of actual material becomes easier
There are certain preconditions that govern the operation of kanban. These preconditions are:
- Defective products should not be sent to the subsequent process.
- The subsequent process enables the concerned personnel in the manufacturing department to extract only what is needed. This is also known as the “pull system of demand” technique.
- Only the exact quantity should be extracted by the subsequent process.
- Processes in production should be stabilised and rationalised.
Zero Defects Concept
Zero defects refers to a management programme that is used to eliminate defects in production. The term was introduced by Philip Crosby in his book, Absolutes of Quality Management and implied that there should be no waste in production. It can be applied to all types of organisations across various industries. The basic notion of the zero defects concept is that defects are not acceptable and one should do the things right the first time.
Zero defects is based on the following principles:
- Quality requirements should be fulfilled at the right time.
- Quality should be attained during the initial stages of production rather than making the required modifications or correction at a later stage.
- The effort made to maintain quality must be measured in terms of money.
- Quality should be evaluated on the basis of zero defects, that is, it should have minimum defects.
- A proactive approach must be adopted for the implementation of the zero defects concept.
- Quality improvement teams must be developed to integrate zero defects in the organisational culture.
In order to ensure zero defects in its production, the management needs to demonstrate significant commitment towards the implementation of the concept. However, zero defects incur high costs to meet the standards of perfection and also require more people and resources. Therefore, organisations need to concentrate on continual service improvements to make zero defects successful.
Design of Experiments
The term ‘experiment’ refers to a systematic procedure undertaken in a controlled environment to discover some unknown effects or to validate a hypothesis. Design of Experiment (DOE) is defined as a technique that deals with discovering the relationship between process inputs and outputs. In other words, DOE refers to a systematic approach of determining the production processes of organisations to estimate the process inputs that have a very large impact on the process outputs, that is, the final products.
Let us take an example to understand the concept of DOE more clearly. Assume there is a company that manufactures amplifiers. The typical inputs in the production process of this company are the width of the micro-strip lines (W), a resistor (R) and a capacitor (C). In this case, DOE would help to evaluate all these inputs of the production process and determine the effect of each design input in the final output.
Thus, DOE helps in answering the following questions regarding the production process:
- What are the critical factors in a process?
- What is the effect of the interaction of these factors in the output of the process?
- How do the interactions of the factors cause variations in the output
DOE is used in the design phase of products. It helps in minimising design costs by speeding up the design process and preventing design changes in the later stages of production. The technique also helps in minimising product variation. Variations here refer to differences in the characteristics of different samples of the same product.
There are various statistical approaches to DOE. Most of these approaches are taken from the work of R. A. Fisher, an English statistician. A typical statistical approach of DOE includes the following two steps:
- Screening the process to minimise the number of variables taken in the experiment
- Developing a factorial design to study the interactions of the factors and their effect on the final output
It must be noted that DOE is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ technique for all processes. A DOE can be either simple or complex on the basis of the process and the number of input factors considered for the experiment. Some experiments may take only one or a few factors, while others may consider a large number of factors.
For instance, in the example of the amplifier given earlier, the company considered only three factors. In case of more complex electronic devices like laptops, a large number of factors are considered. Generally, DOE is carried out to determine the effectiveness of the final product due to changes in the elements. In other words, DOE helps in optimising the performance of the output by making changes in the inputs.
Implementing DOE in the manufacturing process requires changing Key Input Variable (KIV) parameters (called factors), which are directly controllable using carefully planned patterns and then observing the outputs (called responses).
Measurement System Analysis
Measurement System Analysis (MSA) is a specifically designed experiment to determine the components of variation in the measurement process. It assesses the measurement methods, instruments and processes of obtaining the measurements to maintain the integrity of data collected for analysis. Further, MSA helps in understanding the effects of measurement errors on product- or process-related decisions.
MSA evaluates equipment, processes, procedures, software and employees that may have an effect on the measurement approach. MSA includes:
- Selection of the correct measurement approach
- Evaluation of the assessing device
- Evaluation of procedures and their operators
- Assessment of measurement interactions
- Calculation of the measurement uncertainty of devices
Value-added/lean manufacturing can be defined as a systematic method that is used to eliminate waste involved in the production process. It was developed to be used in the assembly line of Toyota for manufacturing automobiles. The idea was to reduce waste in the production process.
An organisation that wants to adopt lean manufacturing must follow certain principles, which are as follows:
- The organisation must identify the ways to create value in the manufacturing process and products.
- Setup time is regarded as a waste activity, and repeating it results in production loss. Therefore, the organisation must use appropriate techniques to reduce the setup time as much as possible.
- Large variety of products must be manufactured in small amounts to obtain the benefits of mass production and batch production.
- Employees should work in teams and must be given proper training to perform their jobs efficiently.
- Lean manufacturing works on the principles of Total Quality Management (TQM) and focusses on the elimination of product defects. Lean manufacturing helps to identify defects on time and takes appropriate action to either correct or remove them.
- Lean manufacturing focusses on a proper maintenance of equipment to ensure smooth flow in the production process.
- All the steps in the value chain must be analysed, and those that do not add/create value in products must be removed.
- To attain the aim of reduced inventory costs and lead time, focus is on using the pull production method. In this method, raw material requirement is based on the actual demand of production.
- Lean manufacturing emphasises close partnerships between organisations and their suppliers. Therefore, suppliers should be given adequate training and support to adopt lean manufacturing.
- Lean manufacturing also emphasises making efforts to attain continuous improvements and strives for perfection.
Rapid prototyping can be defined as a collection of techniques that are used to design a model of a part or assembly using three-dimensional computer-aided design data. Rapid prototyping is also known as solid free-form manufacturing, computer automated manufacturing and layered manufacturing. Through rapid prototyping, models are developed in order to test their performance and specifications. Rapid prototyping can also be used for developing essential models for tooling, such as silicone rubber moulds.
The most common technique that is used for rapid prototyping is stereolithography, which uses computer-controlled laser beams to create the specified structure from a liquid polymer that hardens on contact with the laser.
Rapid prototyping reduces the development time of models by enabling corrections at an early stage of the manufacturing process. It evaluates the product in the design phase, detecting any defects early and performing the required corrective action. This enables the organisation to make any required changes in the product that is economical and cost effective.
Value engineering can be defined as a process of reducing the cost of producing a product without compromising on either its quality or its utility. It is a systematic approach to provide value to a product, system or service.
Generally, this improvement is implemented with the idea of reducing cost; however, there may be other important areas, such as how customers perceive quality and performance, which are important in the calculation of value. It helps in attaining an optimum balance between different aspects of a product or process such as function, performance, quality, safety and cost. Through an optimum balance, the maximum value for the project is attained.
In value engineering, value can be calculated as follows:
Value = Function/Cost
- Function is the task or job a product or service performs
- Cost is the amount required to create value
When the concept of value is applied to designing or engineering, it is known as value engineering, and when the concept is applied to manufacturing, it is known as value analysis. Thus, value is the most important aspect of value engineering and entails various factors such as the built-in quality, life, maintainability, etc., of products.