Manufacturing Footprint Strategy – Coming Out of the “Black Hole” (Mechanical Project)

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The role of the manufacturing units has a big impact on a company’s business. If competitive priorities and the production weapons can be merged together and describe a factory profile, it can be a factor that provides the competitive advantages for the company. This thesis has two objectives in this area, the industrial and the academic.

The industrial objective will investigate how we can visualize and describe a manufacturing structure and make the desired positioning. The manufacturing footprint structure will be set up according to the performance objectives Innovation, Flexibility, Lead-time and Efficiency representing the product life cycle that also support decisions for the make or buy process.

The result is a model that describes the manufacturing structure and a conflict area, or a “Black Hole”, is indentified and is leading to the academic research questions; why most of the manufacturing units are positioned in the conflict area and how to leave the “Black Hole”? The intersection in the views of positioning, knowledge and the network paradox are analysed and a scaled model connected to Dreyfus knowledge model, brings some understanding to the positioning problem.

A process model is proposed for the characteristic profiles of the concept factories and how to move to the desired positions. This concept can be applied on a group of manufacturing units and handle the trade off dilemmas for the separate units by letting a group of units achieve top performance for all the performance objectives.

The visualization and relation to the products life cycle can contribute to communication and developing the manufacturing footprint strategy. The model has been tested, in a positioning context for strategic purchasing with experience of supplier quality audits for positioning suppliers, with positive result.

Further research of top performance factories would be interesting to do in order to find out their 8M profiles and identify more trade off dilemmas, connecting them to the different performance objectives in order to support the development in moving to different desired directions.
Source: Mälardalen University
Author: Sörensen, Kim

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