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Agile Manufacturing: Forging New Frontiers

Main Home >Paul T Kidd > Paul T Kidd's Books - Non-Fiction > Agile Manufacturing Forging New Frontiers Home > Chapter 3

Agile Manufacturing: Forging New Frontiers

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Agile Manufacturing

Paul T Kidd

ISBN 0-201-63163-6 (Hardbound)

Publisher: Addison Wesley

Price: See buy on-line link

Publication Date: June 1994


Agile Manufacturing: Forging New Frontiers

Chapter 3 Introduction

The established practices that we use in manufacturing industry were developed in a time when circumstances were very different to those that exist today. In the past, the manufacturing environment was largely cost driven and was based on high volume, low variety markets, with low levels of competition. In this environment we found that management accounting techniques based on financial measures of performance, and management and manufacturing practices based on the application of division of labour, hierarchical control, centralisation, deskilling, etc. worked reasonably well.

For example, when we applied technology to automate production and to deskill the our people on the shop floor, we generally found that this produced competitive advantage and made our companies more profitable. Furthermore, the fact we almost always failed to adequately address people issues during the design of production plant was not seen as a source of competitive disadvantage. Moreover, our product development processes, which we based on a serial engineering model, the over-the-wall approach, also did not constitute a major competitive disadvantage, because most companies used this method and there was little or no incentive for us to improve the product development process.

The profound changes that are now occurring in the market place have already initiated major changes in the way we do things in manufacturing industry. Our belief that the introduction of new technology to reduce costs will guarantee us improved competitiveness and profitability has been challenged by concepts such as just-in-time manufacturing, concurrent engineering, etc. Furthermore, the increased emphasis that we have placed on quality and flexibility has meant that we have begun to realise that the skills of all our people are assets rather than costs to be minimized. Moreover, we have started to witness the emergence of organisation and people issues as major design issues, and our traditional serial engineering approach to product development is now being displaced by the concurrent engineering model.

It is our assertion that the emergence of Agile Manufacturing as a new manufacturing paradigm, has revolutionary implications for many of our traditional beliefs and practices. Agile Manufacturing cannot be based on the traditional concepts of high levels of vertical and horizontal division of labour, deskilling, standardisation, etc.

In this Chapter we will begin to examine many of the major changes that will have to be brought about if the new manufacturing paradigm of Agile Manufacturing is to become a reality. We will also consider some insights from the theory of change and change management, and these insights will be used to analyse the present situation, and to highlight some problem areas.


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