Simulation modeling of information flows in decision making processes for design-to-manufacturing strategies
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Most successful manufacturing companies were initially formed around a unique or superior product design. As a result of this trend, many companies, especially in high-technology industries, considered design and marketing the company's primary functions. When the United States had superior manufacturing technological capabilities in the 1950's and 1960's, corporate management could systematically neglect manufacturing and still be successful. Manufacturing was treated as a service organization and evaluated in the negative terms of poor quality, low productivity, high wage rates, and so on. Manufacturing was not expected to make a positive contribution to a company's success. Recent successes of the Japanese in building higher quality, lower cost products show the critical error in this philosophy. Manufacturing is now a major factor in a company's competitive position (Priest, 1988).
Manufacturing strategies are the framework for accomplishing the long-term corporate goals for the manufacturing function. This framework helps to focus manufacturing goals and provides plans for integrating the necessary functions and resources into a coordinated effort to improve production. Communication of this strategy sets the right climate for the teamwork and long-term planning that are necessary in developing improved manufacturing capabilities. The strategy should be well publicized throughout the company, with regularly scheduled reviews to monitor progress toward the goals.
Recently, emphasis on manufacturing strategy, as advocated by leading scholars in the 1970's and 1980's, has been recognized as one way to regain the competitive advantage for American manufacturers. Work carried out recently at Harvard and Stanford by Porter (1985), Skinner (1985), Wheelwright and Hayes (1984) has given more attention to the central role and potential importance of manufacturing; this work helps to explain the relative success of Japanese and Gennan companies. Their work also sets a sound background for further research in this area. However, current studies in manufacturing strategy have delved into technology and financial considerations. But technology, capital, and work force are all planned by the people (managers) who are always located in some kind of organizational structure. Based on the experimental results proposed by industrial psychologists, this research is one step toward a quantitative study of organizational efficiency. Two major types of organizations, hierarchical (serial) and egalitarian (parallel), are investigated by applying simulation techniques. The variables controlled comprise organizational type, number of levels in a hierarchical structure, and number of participants. The research results are also applied to investigate the applicability of current design-to-manufacturing strategies, such as simultaneous engineering and concurrent design in firms. Suggestions on how to reduce the design-to-manufacturing time through appropriate organizational structures are presented following analysis of the simulation results.
- Masters Theses