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Article

Torbjørn H. Netland, Jason D. Schloetzer and Kasra Ferdows

Why some assembly factories implement a lean program faster than others is an enduring puzzle. We examine the effect of a fundamental characteristic of every assembly…

Abstract

Purpose

Why some assembly factories implement a lean program faster than others is an enduring puzzle. We examine the effect of a fundamental characteristic of every assembly factory—its rhythm of production.

Design/methodology/approach

We designed a multi-method study and collected data from a leading global equipment manufacturer that launched a lean program across its factory network. We use quantitative data gathered from internal company documents to test our hypothesis that production rhythm affects the pace of lean implementation. We then analyze qualitative data from interviews and factory visits to derive theoretical explanations for how production rhythm affects lean implementation.

Findings

Consistent with our hypothesis, we present evidence that factories with faster production rhythms implement lean faster than those with slower rhythms. This evidence is consistent with learning theories as well as the literature on organizational routines and forms of knowledge. We propose a theory of the relation between rhythm and learning in lean implementation.

Research limitations/implications

The hitherto unexplored relation between production rhythm and lean implementation raises intriguing questions for scholars and ushers new insights into how organizations learn to implement lean.

Practical implications

Organizations need to calibrate their expectations for lean implementation pace when their factories have widely different production rhythms and find ways to mitigate any adverse effects slower rhythms may have. Organizations can alleviate the unfavorable context of slower rhythms by inculcating practices in the factory that emulate the learning environment present in faster-paced factories.

Originality/value

We contribute novel quantitative and qualitative evidence that production rhythm affects lean implementation through learning-based mechanisms.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 41 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article

Kasra Ferdows

The purpose of this paper is to argue that operations management (OM) scholars ought to be among the thought leaders in research into the design and management of global…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to argue that operations management (OM) scholars ought to be among the thought leaders in research into the design and management of global production networks, but too few of them currently are. It suggests possible reasons for what is holding them back and calls for ideas for removing the obstacles.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is a viewpoint. Nevertheless, it reports results of an indicative survey and uses example cases to illustrate and support its arguments.

Findings

The survey confirms the conclusions from previous studies that the number of publications specifically in leading OM journals focusing on management of global operations is small. Relatively high levels of detail and dynamic complexity and hysteresis of variables affecting the management of global operations are identified as the major hurdles. Applying analytical modeling, a popular research methodology among OM scholars, may be of limited use as it mandates making too many simplifying assumptions. Empirical research is also difficult because it is time consuming and requires access to often sensitive data and may require longitudinal studies. These are tough problems with no clear solutions.

Originality/value

The paper urges OM scholars to take on the broad and strategic problems in management of global operations. That would not only change how the OM discipline is viewed, but it would also benefit the firm, the economy, and the society.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 38 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article

Arnoud De Meyer and Kasra Ferdows

Today, to improve productivity in manufacturing, one has a largevariety of improvement programmes at one′s disposal. Zero defects, valueanalysis, just‐in‐time…

Abstract

Today, to improve productivity in manufacturing, one has a large variety of improvement programmes at one′s disposal. Zero defects, value analysis, just‐in‐time, manufacturing lead time reduction are just a few of a long list of potential action programmes. Their real impact is not always clearly described, and manufacturing managers often have to start implementation on a basis of belief. In this article we use the database of the European Manufacturing Futures Survey to explore some of the medium‐term effects of these improvement programmes on manufacturing performance. The conclusions show that there are no simple cause‐effect relationships between single improvement programmes and manufacturing performance. Tenacity in implementation is required since some programmes have negative effects in the short term, but can have positive effects in the long term.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 10 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article

Ann Vereecke and Roland Van Dierdonck

The literature on global manufacturing strategy contains few models that help managers to design and manage their global plant network. An interesting model is the one…

Abstract

The literature on global manufacturing strategy contains few models that help managers to design and manage their global plant network. An interesting model is the one developed by Ferdows, describing the strategic role of plants. This paper discusses and tests this model. The data provide strong empirical support for the model and add some new insights. It is shown that the role of the “center of excellence” in a manufacturing network is not restricted to plants with know‐how as the primary location advantage, but is also a common role for plants with market proximity as the primary advantage. Also, the model proves to be useful for the description and assessment of today’s network of plants, but it is too limited to serve as a typology for new plants that might be added to the network. Finally, the research shows that the perception of headquarters and of plant management concerning the plants’ strategic role may be very different.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 22 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article

Kasra Ferdows and Fritz Thurnheer

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the notion of fitness in production as something different from leanness and show that building fitness puts a factory on a…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the notion of fitness in production as something different from leanness and show that building fitness puts a factory on a course of developing cumulative capabilities and improving its ability to respond to changing market and business conditions.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper examines the process of design, launch, and management of a fitness program in 42 factories of the Hydro Aluminum Extrusion Group on five continents between 1986 and 2001. The design was based on the “sandcone model” proposed by Ferdows and DeMeyer but the sequence of capabilities was modified to improve safety, reduce process variability, codify and share tacit production know‐how, improve responsiveness, and improve labor and machine efficiency.

Findings

Most factories showed improvements higher than industry average in these capabilities during the 15 years. Moreover, they improved the capabilities listed earlier in the above sequence faster than those listed later, indicating that they were becoming more fit.

Research limitations/implications

Observations were in only one company and industry, which limits general applicability of the model. However, measurements were taken over a relatively long period, factories were spread on five continents, and the authors had access to the actual data during the 15 years, which together provided a unique opportunity to gain deep insights from this case. Future research should test the applicability of the model in other industries and companies.

Practical implications

A fitness regimen provides a roadmap for improving core capabilities in a factory. It is different from building leanness. Fitness helps the factory become leaner, but the opposite is not always true. A factory can become too lean but never too fit.

Originality/value

This paper is the first, to the authors' knowledge, to introduce the notion of fitness in production in the literature. Results observed in this case suggest that a better understanding of how factories become fitter provides insights into some of the deeply ingrained practices of superior manufacturers, especially those that stay competitive over long periods.

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Article

Kasra Ferdows and Wickham Skinner

Manufacturing has suddenly developed a whole new perspective. In the last few years, manufacturing management has broken out of the confinement of a century's accumulation…

Abstract

Manufacturing has suddenly developed a whole new perspective. In the last few years, manufacturing management has broken out of the confinement of a century's accumulation of stagnant wisdom. These old concepts had so confined the thinking of industrial managers that the conventional factory had gradually become an anachronistic institution. But now the conventional factory has been thrust into a totally unaccustomed role. It is no longer the corporate villain—the creator of costs and absorber of capital. For better or worse, it is now a critical strategic resource.

Details

Journal of Business Strategy, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0275-6668

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Article

Arnoud De Meyer and Kasra Ferdows

The integration of information systems within manufacturing, and between manufacturing and other functions, is a growing concern. A survey of 560 manufacturing companies…

Abstract

The integration of information systems within manufacturing, and between manufacturing and other functions, is a growing concern. A survey of 560 manufacturing companies in Europe, North America and Japan reveals that management is paying increasing attention to this issue, though it is given slightly less priority in Japan. European respondents appear to favour a top‐down approach to the integration of the various information sub‐systems, while North American and Japanese respondents support the bottom‐up approach. North Americans are more concerned with control of materials flow when developing systems, the Europeans with demand management, and the Japanese with technical and engineering issues.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 5 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article

Kasra Ferdows, Jeffrey G. Miller, Jinichiro Nakane and Thomas E. Vollmann

Large manufacturers in Western Europe, North America and Japan show similarities and differences in their manufacturing strategies. A survey of nearly 1,500 large…

Abstract

Large manufacturers in Western Europe, North America and Japan show similarities and differences in their manufacturing strategies. A survey of nearly 1,500 large manufacturers in these areas shows that they all place major emphasis on new products, quality and the use of computer power in manufacturing. The differences in the pattern of strategic directions and priorities for manufacturers in each area are observed, and the implementation of manufacturing strategies discussed. Vulnerable elements in the pattern of dominant manufacturing strategies are observed. In the 1990s Japanese manufacturing management is likely to be focused on balancing the need for change with the need to preserve existing capabilities and strengths. The Americans will focus on fundamental approaches to quality control and sophisticated computer‐based information systems. European manufacturers will focus on the need for structural changes in the organisation, workforce and technology. All regions will be faced with a shortage of people with the various skills required to implement new technologies.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 6 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article

Louis Brennan, Kasra Ferdows, Janet Godsell, Ruggero Golini, Richard Keegan, Steffen Kinkel, Jagjit Singh Srai and Margaret Taylor

The past three decades have seen the transformation of manufacturing involving its global dispersion and fragmentation. However, a number of recent developments appear to…

Abstract

Purpose

The past three decades have seen the transformation of manufacturing involving its global dispersion and fragmentation. However, a number of recent developments appear to suggest that manufacturing may be entering a new era of flux that will impact the configuration of production around the globe. The purpose of this paper is to address the major emerging themes that may shape this configuration and concludes that most of them are still in their initial stages and are not likely to create a radical shift in the next few years in how manufacturing is configured around the world. These themes were presented in a special session on “Manufacturing in the World – Where Next?” at the 2013 EurOMA Conference in Dublin, Ireland.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper provides a series of perspectives on some key considerations pertaining to the future of manufacturing. An evaluation of their likely impact is offered and insights for the future of manufacturing are presented.

Findings

The importance of a focus on the extended manufacturing network is established. The need for customer engagement and a forward looking approach that extends to the immediate customer and beyond emerges as a consistent feature across the different perspectives presented in the paper. There is both the potential and need for the adoption of innovative business models on the part of manufacturers.

Originality/value

The paper presents in-depth perspectives from scholars in the field of manufacturing on the changing landscape of manufacturing. These perspectives culminate in a series of insights on the future of global manufacturing that inform future research agendas and help practitioners in formulating their manufacturing strategies.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 35 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article

Christopher Voss

Examines quality strategies within the manufacturing strategy. Discusses how the difference and the relationship between order winning criteria and order qualifying…

Abstract

Examines quality strategies within the manufacturing strategy. Discusses how the difference and the relationship between order winning criteria and order qualifying criteria is crucial to the understanding of the role of quality in the manufacturing strategy. Asserts that a manufacturing strategy must fully support the market strategy. Emphasizes the need to sustain and improve quality. Concludes that as more companies achieve total quality, this moves them to strategies where quality is a qualifying criterion rather than an order winner. Asserts a strategy of using quality as a qualifying criterion can only be pursued when high levels of quality have been achieved. Contends the necessity to come to terms with this in order to meet the competitive challenges of the 1990s.

Details

The TQM Magazine, vol. 2 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0954-478X

Keywords

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