Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM)

Flickr  © Nathan

Flickr © Nathan

In today’s world of competitive environment, one of the key success factors for manufacturing firms is speed-not only speed of delivery, but of concept, design and production. Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) is a company wide strategy to cut lead times in all phases of manufacturing and office operations. It can bring the manufacturing firm’s products to market more quickly and secure its business prospects by helping to compete in a rapidly changing manufacturing arena.

QRM reduces both external and internal lead times throughout an organization. Reducing external lead times means rapidly designing and manufacturing products for specific customer needs. The internal aspect focuses on reducing lead times for all tasks within the enterprise, such as the time to approve an engineering change or the time to issue a purchase order to a supplier.

Dr. Rajan Suri, the architect of QRM mentioned that it is based on four core concepts:

Realizing the Power of Time – Lead time is much more important than most managers realize. Long lead times create many organizational costs — much more than just WIP and Finished Goods! Such costs are four to five times labor costs. Shrinking these costs is a much bigger opportunity than reducing labor.

Rethinking Organization Structure – QRM transforms traditional functional departments into an organization consisting of “QRM Cells.” Although the cell concept has been known for some time, QRM Cells are more flexible, more holistic, and apply outside the shop floor too.

Exploiting System DynamicsBy getting managers to understand how capacity, batch sizes and other factors impact lead times, QRM enables them to make improved decisions that result in shorter lead times.

Implementing a Unified Strategy Enterprise-wideQRM is not just a shop floor approach; it is applied throughout the enterprise. This includes material planning and control, purchasing and supply chain, quoting, order processing and new product development. QRM provides a single, unifying approach for the entire enterprise.

However if a manufacturing company competes in a market that has large fluctuations in demand, QRM may not be the most appropriate business enabler. To react to demand, a manufacturing firm must closely partner with suppliers that will quickly accommodate the firm’s production schedule. It means increased reliance on suppliers. QRM is a business enabling philosophy that pushes authority down to lower levels and therefore, changes the roles and responsibilities of the employees. Employees can be extremely apathetic to these changes, which is an obstacle that could significantly hinder the implementation process and the success of QRM.

Asprova’s advanced planning and scheduling function allows manufacturers to gain market share and increase profitability by developing maximum flexibility and response in manufacturing to adjust quickly to changes in customer demand. Our ingenious software eliminates the barrier and overhead associated with schedule-driven manufacturing, providing QRM companies benefit from dramatically reduced working capital, improved quality and more flexible employees.

Asprova Scheduling: Mixing-Packing-Inspection Process

This article explains the operations and functions used from master setting to rescheduling with Asprova APS. In this sample, we will explain the mixing-packing-inspection processes in Asprova.

Graphical display

To be able to produce ProductA, it has to go through a series of processes:

  1. The materials for product A is set as ProductA-Material.
  2. ProductA-Material passes the mixing process first. There is a resource called Mixer 1 for the materials mixing process.
  3. Next step is the packing process. There are 2 packing resources – Packer 1 and Packer 2 for the packing process.
  4. Then, items produced in the packing process pass the inspection process. There is an inspector called Inspection Center 1 for the inspection process.
  5. Finally, ProductA will be produced.

This is the production process for Product A. All necessary equipment are called resources. All of these can be set up in Asprova – including set up and production time, resource or process output (e.g. mixing process outputs 1 unit etc), time constraint or waiting time and the order information. Order information includes product, order quantity, due dates and priority. Priority is set into two types – priorities 50-90 are called “Just in Time” orders wherein orders are scheduled in a backward direction from the due date and priorities 90-100 are called “Emergency” orders wherein orders are scheduled to start and finish as soon as possible.

With all these information set up in Asprova, we can run, adjust parameters and re-run schedule to meet the desired dates and quantity. For example, possible late deliveries can be adjusted to meet schedule on-time through opening weekends for operation. Asprova also has the capability to synchronize processes such that rush orders are scheduled sequentially with the just-in-time orders minimizing waiting time between processes. By doing this, it allows factories to schedule manufacturing with minimal lead time. As a result, size of production and work-in-progress inventories are reduced.

To learn more about this specific Asprova sample demonstration, you may visit Asprova’s e-Learning video HERE .


How to Successfully Implement a Production Scheduling Software

Flickr ©Scott

Flickr ©Scott

Every software implementation needs thorough preparation and planning to ensure success. Over the past years, Asprova has had its fair share of success and failures in the implementation of its Production Scheduling software. Based on actual experiences from our customers, here are important points to take note to be able to successfully implement a Production Scheduling software:

Set clear and in between ideal and realistic goals. To define these goals, understand first why your company needs a Production Scheduling software. Create a project plan that clearly articulates business requirements. Analyze the requirements and ensure to set goals in between realistic and ideal – be able to separate wish lists from the attainable ones. Lastly, goals have to be set with great focus on the company’s bottom line – PROFIT. For example:

1. Be able to answer quickly and accurately → Aiming at the increase of customer satisfaction and sales

2. Reduce inventory → Aiming at cutting costs

3. Shorten production lead time → Aiming at improving agility to respond to customer needs as well as cutting costs

• Build a prototype. Before implementation, it is recommended that a prototype be built first to be able to completely examine the functions of the system. This will help you decide whether the functions of the system will work for you or not.

• Keep additional software development to an absolute minimum. Too much customization may derail your implementation due to time constraints, possible bugs and uncontrollable costs. Take the opportunity to evaluate your processes first. Then, try to solve using the standard functions of the system.Taking into consideration all these important factors will help your company in successfully implementing a Production Scheduling software and in achieving your end goal of hitting profit plans.

Are you planning to implement a Production Scheduler in your factory? If so, we strongly recommend that you download the free trial version of Asprova and watch our e-Learning videos.



Photo credits: Flickr ©Scott

Five Problems of Chemical Industry


The solution to this area of manufacturing is, according to Asprova’s experts, visualization and reduction of lead time. These two are the main key areas that manufacturers should take into consideration, if they would want to improve or maintain their products’ quality, keep up with the deadlines and due dates, reduce costs and maximize profits, keep tank facilities in check, and globalize.

Asprova’s visualization features include the following:

The Gantt chart—this enables checking of overdue orders, wait times of each process, and inventory allocation.
The Load graph—this includes displayed periods, displayed resources, and text display that can be customized according to your needs.
The skill map—enables managing of employees’ capacity, ability/inability and processing speed, separate to integrated master tables such as the BOM (Bill of Materials) and resource capacities.
The sales plan table—you can easily view the information on orders for a certain period can be registered with the accuracy of company forecast, sales forecast, customer forecast, and confirmed orders.
Inventory graph—here, inventory changes and material requirement can be calculated at one view. In addition, production graphs and consumption graphs are available. Calculation functionality for each term is also included.
Key Performance Index—including sales, profits, profit rates, the material cost can be calculated by cost per item and working cost per resource.

With Asprova’s visualization features, your company can attain improvements and efficiency in scheduling. With these, reduction of lead time will be an easy task.

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Food and Consumer Goods Industry

Consumer goods are characterized by final value-added products that are disseminated in mass markets. Consumer goods according to marketresearch.com, are also “referred to as household goods and are produced in tremendous volumes not reached by niche market goods, industrial goods, or other products purchased only by industry and businesses.”

Following the degrees of production, this industry represents a big manufacturing sector in the international community that is responsible for the creation and supply of goods that is directed to households. That is, to say, that this industry is REALLY BIG and it requires manufacturers to protect the quality of their goods.

Speed is another factor. Due dates in this industry is totally different from other industries and requires high-speed scheduling.

The solution according to Asprova includes two points: “visualization and reduction of lead time.” By carefully considering the needs of this industry, Asprova found out that “Visualization and reduction of lead time are realized by installing a scheduler with finite capacity”. Schedulers with finite capacity make production schedules as to reduce lead time, considering facilities and workload. Having Scheduling result, production progress, and future schedule accessible for anyone to see realizes visualization”.

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The Two Key Solutions to Industrial Machinery and Components Industry Problems

Industry Solution - Machinery

Like in other industries, visualization is one of the two key solutions to the problematic facets of the Industrial Machinery and Components industry. With visualization, monitoring production performance becomes an easy task. According to our recent post,“…good visualization of production operations will give you a better view on how to drive the best performance for the factory…Visualization leads to the maximization of the potentials of the production processes.” It would be easier to adjust or find the due dates, if the schedule is visualized. Visualization can even lessen the time allotted for planning. In Case Study 10, it was noted that the promotion of Visualization contributed to the shortening of the planning cycle and saving money by reducing the planning staff.

On the other hand, the second key solution to the problems of the Industrial Machinery and Components Industry is what field experts call lead time reduction. Lead time, or the delay between the initiation (planning) and execution (action) of a process, can be lessened to achieve greater results. By doing this, you can even reduce the time that the company’s product stays in the inventory.

With Asprova’s help, both of these solutions can be applied to address your Industrial Machinery and Components Industry problems. Lead time reduction and visualization can truly give substantial improvements to any company. Manufacturers featured on most of Asprova’s Case Studies would attest to the fact that it helped them achieve their goals.

Will shortening your lead time and visualizing the production operations of your factory give you a competitive advantage? The answer is an astounding yes! You can start making your company more productive with the help of our production scheduler, which by the way, is being used by more than 52% of Japanese manufacturers.

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