Prof.: Alexander Fidanza
Assignment: Custom Molds Inc. - case study analysis
Submitted: November 2010
Custom Molds Inc. – Case Study Analysis
1. What are the major issues Tom and Mason Miller are facing? Looking at the workflow of Custom Molds raises several questions. First, customers’ complaints about delivery delays have increased. The voice of the customer always signals a problem. Tom and Mason Miller now have to identify where that problem lies and how it can be solved. Following the 6 step analysis presented by the authors of Operation Management Strategy and Operations [Krajewski J. Lee, 2001], the first step is to identify where there is a gap between what the customer expects and what the company can deliver. Clearly, Custom Molds has a too long lead time and is not respecting its deadlines. The company’s managers might start by looking at the relationship with the suppliers and analyzing the complaints from customers. Next step is to define scope. This implies looking at the process and discover where the bottlenecks are, from where to where a process reaches and then, using flowcharts and diagrams to map out and document the process. In the case of Custom Molds, the management of the supply chain is faulty. Metrics, the following step, helps quantify problems and usually Histograms, Pareto charts, Cause-and-effect charts, are useful tools in identifying which are the 20% of the elements that cause 80% of the problems. Only after completing these steps is an analyst to shift to creative thinking and brainstorm ideas that could improve the process. The last step is, of course, implementing the changes, a task that proves most difficult, since it often clashes with people’s resistance to new methodology. These steps are to be repeated in order to test implemented changes and discover new opportunities to improve the process. In the case of Custom Molds, a good place to start is to look at the breakdown of the single processes in a chart like the one below (chart 1). The supplying of raw materials and the scheduling for molds take incredibly long. It becomes obvious that the company is struggling with the production of custom molds which, in turn, delays the production of plastic parts which leads to unhappy customers. To tackle the “why” of this question though, we need to look at each of the process’ steps starting with customer satisfaction and the relationship with the suppliers of raw materials, the design teams’ composition and the scheduling of workload to master machinists. Also related to production is the factory’s layout which causes some of the delays in the process. Another issue would be the changes the industry is going through and what this requires from Custom Molds and how the company could adapt to them.
2. Identify the individual processes on a flow diagram. What are the competitive priorities for these processes and the changing nature of the industry? The processes of Custom Molds could be presented using a diagram like the one in appendix 1. It reveals how the two different processes (the one for producing molds and the one for producing plastic parts) interact: what steps are common and what steps are different. Production of molds differs greatly from the production of parts. It is a highly skilled, labor intensive process, whereas the plastic parts are machine intensive. The two processes only have the finishing-up step in common: cutting / trimming and cleaning / polishing, assembly and shipping. However, the production of parts relies on a mold which either exists already in the inventory (in which case the production starts right away) or has to be fabricated. In the latter case, the production of parts depends on the quick fabrication of the mold and is therefore delayed until the mold is ready (usually up to 9 weeks). When Custom Molds started, Tom and Mason focused on...