rThe challenge fo 21st Century State of the Art for Manufacturing Companies
High Quality, Low Cost, Fast Delivery…. Impossible?
‘We make the impossible come true immediately, we do not wait for miracles’. That’s what we, the customers, all over the world are demanding from our suppliers. So this is what we, as suppliers, need to realize… WCM was the first attempt to revamp organizations in this direction.
Every commercial organization is focused on making profit. Manufacturing companies are a special breed within these enterprises because they make their products themselves. The objectives of Manufacturing Companies are to satisfy the needs of the customer who wants:
- Products of consistent high quality
- Delivery On Time In Full amount ordered
- Products at the lowest possible cost level.
World Class Manufacturing [WCM] is the collective term to realize these objectives.
WCM was the result of many centuries’ of production knowledge and ability. Starting with the guild structure in the Middle Ages, this knowledge and ability evolved via the manufacturing in the 18th century, scientific management/mass production, socio-technology and lean production in de twentieth century into the State-of-the-Art manufacturing companies in the beginning of the 21st century: World Class Manufacturing.
Well-known WCM methodologies and techniques are TPM, EFQM, Kaizen, TQM, Six Sigma, JIT, and Lean Manufacturing
WCM starts from the theoretically ideal situation; this means that involved employees have the production processes always run without losses. Then one goes back to reality and focuses on differences between the ideal and real process. This difference is called loss. WCM aims to eliminate this loss. In this respect two things are of overriding importance:
- One learns not to accept losses
- Creation of ownership, meaning that people carrying out a certain production process, feel ownership of this process and initiate improvements, as well as implement them.
Four Main Features
Focus on People in Processes
First of all, WCM focuses on people who are part of the operation. Together with them losses are traced and made visible.
Find and eliminate losses
Subsequently, WCM forms teams to find and eliminate the cause of a certain loss, for only by removing the cause of a problem the problem will stay away forever. Solutions not removing the cause only cure the symptoms of a problem and are no real solutions.
The third main feature of WCM is product organization. Instead of dividing the work over as many specialized departments as possible, the so-called functional division, WCM organized in process stream oriented manner. Ideally, every product-market-combination of your company knows its own team, to which activities adding to the total value are assigned, as well as the support services directly and exclusively related to them.
The fourth and last main feature is the permanent guarantee of the found solutions: the standardization. A WCM-cycle is only really complete if we made sure that the solution we found cannot ebb away. In addition, the ‘process owners’ in such a way should take this step that we can verify that the step is guaranteed.
Thus the four main characteristics of WCM are successively:
1. Make losses visible
2. Improving in team format
3. Organizing process-oriented
4. Standardize working methods.
People who are directly involved in carrying out the processes of additional value are here the internal customers. All others should be supportive and derive their existence from their positive influence on the production process.
Improving in teams
Hence, WCM refers permanently to the ideal situation: ownership and the non-acceptance of losses. Is WCM promising us a Walhalla? Alas, on this point we have to go back to reality from our theoretical ideal. World Class Manufacturing is just as physically strenuous, complicated, and demanding as any other form of production, only much more effective because of its more systemic approach, its transparency and harmonious coherence between people and processes, between methodologies and techniques. Therefore, WCM is more successful, more enjoyable, and healthier for human beings and companies.
Work Smarter, not Harder!
Not working harder, but working smarter, not being obstructive but co-operative, not the customer has to choose from what we produce, but “we produce what the customer wants”. In addition, the customer becomes more and more demanding. He wants more options, the lowest price and he wants it now. Freddie Mercury already sang this in the last century: “I want it all and I want it now”. That is reality at the beginning of the 21st century. That is why we cannot survive without a WCM style of approach, because only if we make the most out of the best methodologies and techniques at our disposal in balanced coherence, we are able to approach the ideal as much as possible. That is what the customer wants.