Academic journal article Management International Review

Integrated Production Concepts - Structural Reasons for Superior Competitive Performance

Academic journal article Management International Review

Integrated Production Concepts - Structural Reasons for Superior Competitive Performance

Article excerpt

Integrated Production Concepts as a Basis towards building up Multidimensional Competitive Advantages: Initial Situation

The production sector play a key role in safeguarding business profits in competitive markets. The ability to support several success factors (quality, productivity, time) simultaneously and at high standards is essential to realising production-based competitive advantages.

Recent investigations reinforce the view that integrated production concepts, such as "production islands", "production segments" and "lean production"(1) provide the capacity to support such success factors simultaneously. These concepts claim to combine the productivity advantages of a flow shop with the flexibility advantages of a job shop. This means that integrated production concepts aim at a simultaneous pursuit of the goals

* reduction in lead and development time,

* increase in productivity,

* increase in quality and

* increase in flexibility

with a simultaneous reduction in cost.(2)

Integrated production concepts are of great importance for the competitive situation. Thus, they are widely discussed and also generally recognised in economic science and practice. Despite these facts, the present state of affairs is still inadequate. The existing investigations are marked by isolated, concept-related proceedings that are based on a before and after comparison between certain integrated production concepts and traditional ones (e.g. job shop, flow shop).(3) In this connection, the observed performance effects are assigned as a simplified, wholesale basis, with few exceptions, to the particular production concepts 4 [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED].

Due to this, problems arise in the area of methodology and interpretation with regard to the success factors that underlie the performance effects. These problems can be traced back to the lack of transparency when trying to discern which methods were used to generate the data. In addition, it is often not verifiable whether similar objects were compared and whether the data itself is valid. Furthermore, this approach neglects a systematic analysis of common structural features and differences characteristic of integrated production concepts. Instead, this approach is restricted to individual concepts, i.e. it does not analyse which of production concepts' characteristic features lead to the performance effects observed.

This paper represents an analysis of design features of production islands, production segments and lean production, without paying particular reference to specific integrated production concepts.(5) The second step condenses these design features into success factors. The third step builds on this and develops correlations between success factors and the resulting implementation effects based on comprehensive plausibility considerations. Thus we are attempting to shed more light on the "black box" of integrated production concepts as shown in Figure 1. Furthermore, we will pursue the question as to what extent additional performance potential can be developed by systemically integrating(6) the design features of integrated production concepts.

Comparative Analysis of Integrated Production Concepts Using Selected Design Features

A comparative analysis of integrated production concepts shows that they are related.(7) This results from the fact that they are based extensively on the same organisational, personnel and technological design features.(8) Discussing these design features enables both common ground and differences between these concepts to be highlighted. Furthermore, features specific to individual concepts reveal starting points for the possible conceptual enlargement of production island, production segments and lean production.

One design feature is based on a facility layout design according to the object principle. This means that work places are grouped in relatively autonomous units that refer to the same objects to be processed. …

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