A changing trend in manufacturing

by Mike Turner

The Times (3rd March) recently reported an important trend in manufacturing being termed “re-shoring”.  Several years ago, organisations outsourced products and services to low-cost economies to seek cost competitive advantage. This trend is now being reversed as they find that this has been at the cost of unsustainable variation in quality and responsiveness. The feature reports an increase in the importance of these criteria to such an extent that the cost advantage is eroded. But what is to say that this is good long-term strategy and will not be “re-reversed” in the future as the competitive dial swings back to cost?

 

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What is needed is an integrated approach to improvement that balances cost, quality and responsiveness, tied to the strategic operational goals that underpin the business strategy. Without this, business leaders will pitch and roll to the prevailing winds of circumstance, fashion and opportunity.

An integrated approach adopts the right balance of tools to improve and control quality and reliability (contained in credible Six Sigma methods), with those that attack responsiveness and agility (Lean and Process Innovation). And these approaches are not confined to manufactured product; there are countless examples the successful application of these techniques to services.

The results can be dramatic, driving costs down within weeks of application. Returns on time and money invested can also top 40 times, thereby protecting cost advantage to the extent that off-shoring will become progressively less attractive. you can read more about this in the recent Quality World article ‘The New Rules of the game” http://bit.ly/1i3hxzY

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