Case Study

Topics: Design, Lead time, Engineering Pages: 26 (6073 words) Published: September 25, 2011

Diecraft Australia
This case was prepared by Associate Professor Kannan Sethuraman and Visiting Professor Devanath Tirupati of the Melbourne Business School as a basis for classroom discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative or business situation. Please address all correspondence to: Associate Professor Kannan Sethuraman, Melbourne Business School, Carlton, Australia, Vic 3053.

On the morning of May 15, 2002 Mark Jackson, General Manager of Diecraft, arrived at the premises of his firm in Reservoir, a northern suburb of Melbourne, at 6.30 am. There were several pressing matters that had brought him in quite early on that chilly morning. He poured himself a cup of hot coffee and mulled over the discussions he had had with Jim Winthorpe, Vice President, Mould Engineering, Tupperware earlier that week. In their meeting, Mr. Winthorpe not only demanded better delivery schedule adherence from Diecraft but was also pressing Jackson to accelerate the design and delivery efforts for new moulds by more than a week. Jackson realized that Diecraft had not done particularly well with respect to meeting the targeted due dates in 2001. More than 70% of the jobs in that year were delayed, and Jackson knew that he needed to find ways to remedy the situation immediately. He called Geoff Little, his Human Resources Manager, and requested he schedule an emergency meeting with key division personnel to discuss this issue later that afternoon. HISTORY AND BACKGROUND Diecraft, formerly known as Rabin Engineering, was founded by John Rabin in 1953. During the initial years John Rabin ran his business with just a single machine in his own backyard garage in the inner Melbourne suburb of East Brunswick. From its inception the company developed a reputation for high quality and craftsmanship. In order to

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keep pace with the increasing demand for his moulds, Rabin began employing more people and expanded his range of machinery. In 1961 Rabin Engineering was producing very complex high quality moulds for the plastic industry and others. During this period Tupperware1, a US-based company, visited Australia to seek out a local firm to make dies and moulds for its products. It soon found itself in discussion with Rabin Engineering and, realizing Rabin moulds met its high quality requirements, asked Rabin to consider a partnership with its operation in the US. Tupperware subsequently purchased Rabin Engineering in 1963, changed the company’s name to Diecraft Australia, and in 1965 moved its operation to the current premises in Reservoir. In the four decades since its takeover by Tupperware, Diecraft Australia has developed expertise and gained a reputation for its manufacturing capability of high-quality, high-precision, close tolerance plastic injection moulds for house-ware products (see Exhibit 1 for the product range). Diecraft had a strong functional orientation from its inception, even though some matrix-form had been introduced to the organization in the recent past (see the organization chart in Exhibit 2A). The managers responsible for functional areas such as Finance, Production, Engineering and Human Resources reported directly to the General Manager. The General Manager, an appointment made by Tupperware management, acted as a liaison between the Vice President, Mould Engineering, Tupperware and Diecraft (see Exhibit 2B). In 2001 Diecraft had sales of A$23 million and employed about 125 people in its modern manufacturing plant. The workforce size was as high as 200 in 1990 and was brought down steadily to the current level of 125. This reduction in workforce size was attributable to automation 1Tupperware Corporation, a $1.1 billion multinational company, is one of the world’s leading direct sellers, supplying premium food...
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