Manufacturing companies make use of different varieties of production processes. The most commonly used production processes in manufacturing companies are batch production processes, repetitive production processes, job shop production processes and continuous production processes. Companies rely on the variety of the production process based on the nature of the product, the cost and time objectives associated with the overall production activity. Each of the production processes is unique, in nature, and involves a different approach in the design and layout of the production facility. In order to determine and define the variety of the production process used by Stickley Furniture for the manufacturing of furniture, it is necessary, first of all, to consider and analyze the nature of the manufacturing process undertaken by the company, thoroughly.
Considering the case of production at Stickley Furniture, it can be concluded that the company’s production is highly labor intensive, since it relies mainly on manual labor in each of manufacturing departments. This implies that automated production processes are not employed. However, some of the processes do make use of computer-aided manufacture. Manual labor is involved in a majority of processes such as sawing and using sanders.
At Stickley furniture, there are several underlying processes involved in the manufacture of each piece of unique furniture sets produced by the company. The furniture goes through several processes of preparation before turning into a final shape that can be sold outright to the customers. The case presents a through insight as to how the furniture produced by the company undergoes one process after another before it becomes a finished product. This entails that the product is being produced through the batch production manufacturing process. The company does not have a continuous process of production (Herrmann, 2004). Each of the processes involved in the production entails skilled craftsmanship of employees. This assumes that each of the batches of products is forwarded to groups of employees, who perform manual labor on the pieces of furniture and eventually turn them into finished products along the manufacturing process; however, production is grouped in batches. Each employee engaged in the manufacturing processes specializes in production areas and has skills that are needed for the manufacture of the product. For example, there are separate groups of employees, who are skilled at sawing; therefore, they are hired at the sawing stage so as to perform this specialized task.
Within the batch processing system, the company incorporates a mix of manual and computerized manufacturing processes which makes use of both automation process and skilled labor. There are several advantages to this variety of the manufacturing process. Specialization of the employees allows the company produce at cost effective and efficient performance rate that only benefits the company in terms of higher quality output.
Tracking of Job Status and Location during Production
It is essential for the manufacturing companies to track job statuses. This allows the operations management to ensure that the production processes are performed up to standards and with outcomes, which are right on track as desired by the targets established by the company as associated with each of the areas of the production processes. This allows the company to maintain effective control over the inventory level, which is held by the company, and improve its customer service, by knowing exactly the quality and the stage of processing of each batch of products. The job of the production manager is to make sure that the final product meets the quality standards set by the company, as well as complies with the customer expectations, in order to ensure complete satisfaction and profitability for the company, in the future. For this reason, it is of fundamental importance and value for the production and operations manager to ensure that each of the processes undertaken in the manufacturing of the product is aligned with the final objectives so that the final outcomes meet the expectations as desired the company. This involves tracking progress of each of the processes. Companies make use of several techniques to track processes.
The management of Stickley Furniture, as detailed in the case briefing, makes use of manual and automated production processes that can be tracked using computer automated systems embedded within the production line. The system can identify the location of the product in the process, for example, where it is in the production process through the use of stamped information regarding the product, in the computer system. For this reason, as demonstrated in the example, it is necessary for employees to comply with the automated computerized system, for keeping track of the production process.
The case study provides information regarding the variety of wood, which is used in the production processes, for avoiding any confusion that may arise. This has been done so as to facilitate the repairs of the furniture when they are returned by the customers. However, it is most ideal, in lieu of attempting to avoid returns from occurring, to manage the production in a way that embeds market requirements with each process and activity including human resource functions together with operational functions, so that each performance attribute and activity performed by the employees matches the market expectations and minimum mistakes are made. Costs can also be kept under control if such a system is implemented.
As a recommendation, the company needs, first of all, to understand the market requirements and then embed these onto each performance outcomes associated with each production process, in order to improve the production and operations management and keep better track of the job processes. The company maintains a system of production wherein it has a system of relating size of production batch with the demand in the market. This is a reliable system, which can allow the company to avoid keeping unnecessary stocks. This system can also be further upgraded into a just-in-time production system. A bar coding system can be implemented in the manufacturing process, as well. The above two changes will help the company introduce a well-managed inventory control system that can be aided with scheduling, thus, allowing the company to use computer based tracking system.
Information Requirements to Process 40 Mission Oaks Dining Room Sets
With the economic downfall occurring globally, the computer industry has not been immune to any damages and has suffered the consequences, as well. Businesses are now inclined towards sustaining the profitability through new and alternative means of business expansion. From within, the businesses have been inclined towards establishing alliances and partnerships, so as to foster their business growth. This trend is supported by one crucial element, such as the customers’ demands. Businesses, with grave concern over prompt adaptations in the highly challenging business environment, do not have time for installing and assembling the operations systems, they want prompt and immediate information feedback, when it is required. For this reason, the companies are now competing to obtain the maximum trust of customers through providing furniture that is customized.
Resources include required manufacturing resources, such as the technological expertise and equipment required to produce the furniture as ordered by the customer. The economic outputs of pursuing such a business model are: demand satisfaction of the customers; sales; revenue; net income and growth.
The company needs the information on customers, and their demands and the strengths and weaknesses of the existing system, to build alliances within the supply chain. Alliances with key suppliers and distributors can be practiced by Stickley Furniture effectively, as part of its strategy, so as to partner with key players in the industry and obtain competitive advantage, in return. Stickley Furniture can undertake supply chain investment analysis, prior to choosing the partners in the industry, in order to implement backward integration and apply integrated business models to strengthen its competitive strategy. Further on, inbound logistics planning and outbound logistics planning is also carried out by the supply chain managers of Stickley Furniture and the routes, service providers and resources are employed that allow the maximum cost and time efficiency and allow the operational requirements to be fulfilled in time. Comparing the information regarding the approaches to operations management strategy it becomes clear how the nature of the business, strategy, objectives and the business type together with the industry practices shape the overall operations management of a company. There are certainly external influences that can create hurdles and obstacles for the successful and efficient performance of the activities and processes of the company. These require a flexible approach towards the process design that allows incorporating the external, as well as internal competencies and influences. Attempts to create and implement a fool-proof process design for its marketing strategy may suffer some loopholes that may be resulting from the resource allocation side in terms of planning, organizing, or execution side. Loopholes are rare because of the heavy emphasis the company places for obtaining competencies in its process designs, striving for competitive strategy implementation.
Stickley Furniture can employ the total quality management system (TQM) to monitor and evaluate, as well as continuously improve all of its processes, such as marketing, production, finance and human resources, to allow competencies to be generated from each area and utilize the resource that the company has availed. The strong emphasis should be put on the quality of the products, whereby quality in human resource and the operations should be placed on the top priority in the company, so as to allow it to retain and prolong the customers’ satisfaction. Stickley Furniture can make use of teams and team leaders, acting as supervisors, to implement the TQM model which includes close cooperation among employees, inspection, regular team meetings, and performance appraisal interviews among other management tools. Performance efficiency measures are made use of continuously, to discover loopholes and effectiveness in performance of various employees. Making use of performance measures and total quality management tools of operations management, Stickley Furniture will be able to adopt a flexible business model, whereby its objectives shall be in line with the activities that are carried out on a day to day basis. This alignment and continuous improvement will allow the company to cover a large geographic area to offer its services, retain services on high quantity level, make sure that the staff remains competent to face challenges of the marketing process, on the continuous level. Moreover, the TQM shall help the company in identifying the loopholes, before they create shortfalls in the overall performance of the marketing plan.
Benefits and Problems
Stickley Furniture relies on complete manual production with a slight involvement of computer-aided manufacturing processes. This is not necessary offering cost advantages to the company in terms of raw materials and labor. While the cost of production may rise because of this, Stickley Furniture, offsets this amount by cost savings from the use of automation and minimum labor in its supply chain. On the other hand, increase in revenues from sales may be obtained from selling all items on retail prices and not on discount prices.
Luckily for Stickley Furniture, which has been quite responsive to the industry trends, the company has been implementing automated production and inventory management in its facilities, which provide Stickley Furniture with Just-In-Production benefits of operational efficiency (Render and Heizer, 2005). This has been one of the key drives of its competitive advantage as other players have yet to replicate this business model, which requires integration of operational resources. The supply chain allows Stickley Furniture to incur a minimum of production costs, which translates into affordable retail prices. The customers benefit in terms of faster availability of new designs of furniture in the stores, as well as improvement in quality and accurateness of the designs and price affordability.
Stickley Furniture can employ total quality management to monitor and evaluate and continuously improve all of is processes, such as marketing, production, finance and human resources to allow competencies to be generated from each corner and resource that the company has in hold. The strong emphasis should be placed on the quality of the products, whereby quality in human resource and the operations should be given the high importance, so that the company could retain and prolong customer satisfaction. Stickley Furniture can make use of teams and team leaders, acting as supervisors, to implement the TQM model, which includes close inspection, regular team meetings, and performance appraisal and performance efficiency measures. The system shall aid the company to make use of and discover loopholes and effectiveness in the performance of its employees, on the continuous basis (Vieira, et al., 2003). Making use of performance measures and total quality management tools of operations management will allow Stickley Furniture to adopt a flexible business model, whereby its objectives shall be in line with the activities that are carried out on a day to day basis. This alignment and continuous improvement will allow the company to cover a large geographic area in its marketing and selling campaign. The implication of this strategy would be the improvement in the offer of the company’s products and services along with high quantity level of sales and services, as well as making sure that the staff remains competent in facing challenges of the marketing process and identifying the loopholes, before they create shortfalls in the overall performance of the marketing plan.
The potential difficulties may arise in the implementation of the strategy. Hurdles in attaining the marketing objectives despite the cleverly designed operational management strategy may arise from the uncertainties in the external environment, from the potential threat from competitors, the lack of competence and resistance coming from the organization’s employees, and the difficulties in performing an internal sales audit, including sales of products returned to Stickley Furniture.