(1) What are the key elements of Toshiba’s business strategy in notebook computers? In what way do Ome’s operations support this strategy?
Toshiba retained its position as market leader at that time by beating its competitor with aggressively priced, technologically superior products. The Ome operation was key to that strategy, because it enabled Toshiba to produce higher quality products at lower prices. Relentless improvement to the manufacturing process resulted in higher quality products, making the products more attractive, and the increases in efficiency generated lower unit costs, which made their products more competitive and allowed the company to make further investments in quality and exploit an advantage on its competitors. The key elements of Toshiba’s broader strategy in notebook computers can be briefed as follows: I. The first element is to optimize its manufacturing process and lower costs. The second element is to produce superior products. The third one is risk mitigation; Toshiba established partnerships and joint ventures with other industry giants so as to lower its own risk profile while developing new, expensive technologies. II. In order to support this strategy, Ome sought continuous improvement and refinement of its manufacturing operation. The strategy was enacted through the following tactical changes:
* By reorganizing the work areas and training operators to handle multiple tasks at their stations, the assembly lines were dramatically shortened. This reduced the labor required per unit. There were also improvements at the design level, to make the various models more efficient to manufacture. * The assembly lines were organized to promote specialization while retaining flexibility: of the four lines, one was an overflow line, generally not used but available during spikes in production demand. One line was generally dedicated to export models, while the other two lines produced products for the domestic...
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