The lack of understanding by many senior managers towards manufacturing often means that when difficulties do occur, the favoured course of action is to eliminate the problem by sub-contracting the manufacturing tasks either locally or offshore. This unfortunately does not address the root cause of the problem and may even lead to the inability to compete in future markets as critical manufacturing processes and infrastructure is dismantled.
As opposed to being reactive, manufacturing executives should become more proactive and companies need to develop their manufacturing strategy as an integral part of their overall corporate strategy. Manufacturing should choose its processes and design its infrastructure (controls, systems, procedures), in a way that helps products win orders in the market place. A critical element of this process is to determine the value that customers desire (Voice of the Customer), and then for the manufacturer to match the processes and infrastructure to these ‘order winning’ criteria. Finally, the processes and infrastructure should be adaptable to changing market demands.
Although R&D, finance and HR will naturally impact on manufacturing, the link between the marketing and manufacturing strategies is perhaps the most important. Developing a coherent manufacturing strategy should include the following steps that emanate from the corporate objectives:
1. Corporate Objectives