By Ismael D. Tabije
Manufacturing is a branch of industry which accounts for about one-quarter of the world's economic activity. It is the application of tools and a processing medium to the transformation of raw materials into finished goods for sale.
Manufacturing includes all intermediate processes required for the production and integration of a product's components. Some industries, such as semiconductor and steel manufacturers use the term fabrication instead.
The geographical concentration of the manufacturing industry is changing. The industrial capacity of many of the world's wealthier nations is shrinking, accompanied by a corresponding loss of jobs, due to the relocation of enterprises to lower-wage countries.
Manufacturing objectives incorporate such things as cost, quality, delivery and flexibility and usually there are trade-offs between them. Trade-off decisions are also necessities in a number of key areas enabling patronage of the manufacturing objectives.
These decision areas may include plant and equipment; production, planning and control; labor and staffing; product design / engineering; and organization and management.
In manufacturing, quality control and quality engineering are involved in developing systems which ensure that products or services are designed and produced to meet or exceed customer requirements and expectations. These systems are often developed in conjunction with other business and engineering disciplines using a cross-functional approach.
Manufacturing requires that products' specifications should be in balance with the needs and implications suggested by the consumers. Specification target values can be superficially founded to surpass the competition without regard to cost or the value proposition. Less pondering may be applied to trade-offs among product parameters because these just lead to additional cost and developmental effort.
Innovation-based companies try to focus on pushing a technology into the marketplace without truly comprehending and addressing customer needs. Boundless research should be conducted to meet the rapidly evolving consumer demands.
Manufacturing is under a lot of pressure. Since the realization that manufacturing actually has a strategic role to play in many firms, internal and external conditions continually pose pressure for fast and intelligent development of manufacturing. For many industrial firms, competitive environment is changing, getting tighter. The concept of manufacturing strategy is getting more imperative due to the forces of technological push and market pull.
Lately, an immense number of new concepts related to manufacturing have come to existence to further expand and challenge traditional perceptions of manufacturing, the content of manufacturing strategy and how decisions on manufacturing strategy should come about.
The ''best practice'' or ''world class manufacturing'' tradition is one perception which is being challenged from several angles. Another, is in the form of ''production philosophies''. These argue in a more conceptual manner for manufacturing systems beyond our traditional perceptions, as in vigorous, angular, and so on.
In short, the traditional ways that we have recognized as manufacturing are disintegrated and analyzed–-to give way to mass production and customization, for instance, can be combined in the same manufacturing system.
To bring manufacturing to its supreme functionality, strategic emphasis should be shifted from cost to quality. As advances in manufacturing technologies come to be, its scope should also expand including the design of an organization's production, product quantity for each facility, and scheduling rules.
Copyright 2007 Ismael D. Tabije
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