Human Performance in Planning and Scheduling

By Bart MacCarthy; John Wilson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Assessing the Effectiveness of Manufacturing Information Systems
Janet Efstathiou, Anisoara Calinescu, John Schirn, Lars Fjeldsøe-Nielsen, Suja Sivadasan, Julita Bermejo-Alonso and Colin J. Neill
15.1

INTRODUCTION
The increasing competitiveness of the global marketplace is forcing manufacturers to become more customer-focused, with mass production being superseded by 'flexible specialisation' or mass customisation. Competitiveness is no longer dependent on price alone, but delivery times and quality are becoming as, if not more, important (Wiendahl and Scholtissek, 1994; Schonberger, 1996). Increased customer expectations lead to higher product variety, reduced product life cycles, shorter customer lead-times and unpredictable demand patterns (Higgins et al., 1996). The reaction has been to develop strategies that call for increased flexibility and responsiveness of manufacturing operations.These demands create a constant pressure for change in the way the facilities are operated, perhaps exceeding the intentions of the original planners. To cope with changes in product volume, variety etc, the schedulers, who are responsible for the day to day operation of the facility, may adopt practices that solve shortterm product problems, but which may become standard practice thereafter. Together with differing practices, shifting market and supply environment, the changes in product range, volume and mix all combine to affect the complexity of the facility.If the complexity of the facility increases beyond control, the facility will become unpredictable and will not be able to deliver to schedule. In attempting to regain control of the facility, the planners and managers may respond in a number of ways, including:
• reduce the product range;
• modularise the products;
• change the manufacturing layout to cells;
• install a computer-based manufacturing information system;
• add extra manufacturing capacity.

The problem for the planner or manager is to choose amongst these and other options. Which option will do most to improve the reliability and flexibility of the facility? What will be the effect on lead-time? What other strategies are available?

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