Agile manufacturing is being able to invent a solution immediately!

As a past Plant Manager for a large manufacturing company, I invented stuff every day, so I know I was agile. But what about the rest of the company?

“Agile manufacturing is a term applied to an organization that has created the processes, tools, and training to enable it to respond quickly to customer needs and market changes while still controlling costs and quality.
An enabling factor in becoming an agile manufacturer has been the development of manufacturing support technology that allows the marketers, the designers and the production personnel to share a common database of parts and products, to share data on production capacities and problems — particularly where small initial problems may have larger downstream effects. It is a general proposition of manufacturing that the cost of correcting quality issues increases as the problem moves downstream, so that it is cheaper to correct quality problems at the earliest possible point in the process.
Agile manufacturing is seen as the next step after LEAN in the evolution of production methodology. The key difference between the two is like between a thin and an athletic person, agile being the latter. One can be neither, one or both. In manufacturing theory being both is often referred to as leagile. According to Martin Christopher, when companies have to decide what to be, they have to look at the Customer Order Cycle (the time the customers are willing to wait) and the leadtime for getting supplies. If the supplier has a short lead time, lean production is possible. If the COC is short, agile production is beneficial.”

Goldman et al. suggest that Agility has four underlying components:
>delivering value to the customer;
>being ready for change;
>valuing human knowledge and skills;
>forming virtual partnerships.
The first three of these are also attributes of lean manufacturing.

How can this fit in the inventing process

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2 responses to “Agile manufacturing is being able to invent a solution immediately!

  1. I think every serious marketer should make a priority of getting to know at least a little bit about agile manufacturing…and developing some connections. What I’m starting to see is that getting ahead in the market is about being able to respond to unserved needs. Being ready with the resources in hand when the opportunity is key.

  2. The concept of leanness is interesting. As I understand it, this is how Costco has risen to the level of premier grocer and mega market. By managing inventory tightly, they keep inventory lean and can offer lower prices (reduces the time inventory sits of shelves). I think the trick is finding that balance between using resources to accomplish this, but not overextending those resources to negatively impact the bottom line. It sounds to me like a complete understanding of the manufacturing and sales cycle is key to managing costs while providing stellar service. Critical for any business. Great post, Kevin!

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