Planning a Performance Improvement Strategy in a Small Manufacturing Company

Topics: Management, Work in progress, Manufacturing Pages: 6 (1827 words) Published: December 18, 2010
The object of this assignment is to produce a two year plan to implement a programme of integrated performance improvement activities in a small manufacturing company that employs about 30 people. Metal components are manufactured, and the factory is arranged around five machines in three cells according to small, medium and large components. Heat treatment and grinding and the other major operations, as well as secondary operations. The following text describes the situation on the factory prior to the implementation of a performance improvement programme.

1. Company History and Structure
In 2000 the long-standing co-director and manager of the Company resigned, leaving the position open for one of the present staff. There were several contenders for the position, including the two office staff both of whom had worked closely with him for years and had been given management titles. Two senior and experienced shop floor staff were also contenders. The Chairman of the company was unsure that anyone of these individuals possessed the skills required for the position, and consequently established a team of managers to run the factory. The management team consisted of the two office staff and one member of the shop floor who was elevated to 'Works Manager' to liase between the office and the factory.

No hierarchy or line accountability was introduced. However, the Works Manager believed he was now the most senior member of staff. The office staff refused to accept this and consequently a power struggle developed. The company Chairman appeared to champion the Works Manager, however the Works Manager's seniority was never formally acknowledged. Prior to 2000, the structure of the company was centred round the co-director. Without any production teams or team leaders, every member of staff was directly accountable to the co-director. The lack of any intermediate line management resulted in the co-director communicating directly with every member of staff. After his departure, the company structure remained the same, however with the new management team there were now three managers who could communicate directly with any of the shop floor staff and consequently all shop floor staff were directly accountable to all three managers!

2. Production Planning
The following describes the production process and the associated problems. The production process began when a customer faxed / phoned an order to the office. The details of the order were placed on the computer system and a print out was produced with all of the order details, called a 'works order'. If there was no raw material in stock then material was ordered and the 'works order' was placed in the 'Awaiting Material' tray in the office. When the material was delivered, or if there was material in stock, the 'works order' was taken from the office straight to the appropriate machine setter, where it was added to his pile of other works orders waiting to be made. The works order stayed with the product throughout the factory.

Prioritising Jobs
The Company is a jobbing shop, and manufactures thousands of varieties of products at relatively low volumes and consequently set up times for each job take up a significant proportion, typically 50%, of production time. The sequence in which orders are manufactured greatly affects the efficiency of production. When manufacturing the Company's products, the set up times are reduced if orders of similar sizes are produced together. Other parameters requiring consideration include customer delivery date, secondary operations and customer importance. Unfortunately, there appeared to be little evidence that these parameters were being considered. The machine setters were prioritising their workload based on which orders would be easiest to manufacture.

Prioritising Jobs -Effects of Customers
The office staff would complete a 'progress sheet',...
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