June 30, 2014


Strategic Framework For Manufacturing
A company needs a ‘strategy’ that specifies the kind of competitive advantage it seeks in its market place and articulates how it shall be achieved. In today’s changing, challenging and competitive world, it is not enough for a company to have its goal to be as good as that of its toughest competitor, advanced equipment or the transfer of production to a low–wage area, rather, a need has arisen for ‘strategic flexibility’, better suited to respond to the market requirements of the time than to pursue a mere generic approach to competitive success.
It is, thus, obvious that the key to long term success of a company is being able to do things better than your competitors, besides selecting and creating operating capabilities in anticipation of market demands.

Mass Customization – Developing Unique Operating Capabilities 
Providing remarkable services to customers is imperative in order to perform better than the competitors. One of the programs invented to meet every customer’s request is mass customization. This attempt has been on one hand, embraced as providing a unique value to the customers efficiently and on the other as a strategy that can produce unnecessary cost and complexity.
Later, four distinct approaches to customization namely - collaborative, adaptive, cosmetic and transparent have been identified, which provided a framework for companies to design customized products and to support business processes. Each of the approaches is important in its own way and differs on the conditions under which each should be employed.
Collaborative customization is apt for businesses which deals with customers who cannot easily articulate their requirements, and grow frustrated when forced to select from a plethora of options. The adaptive approach is appropriate for businesses whose customers want the product to perform in different ways in different situations. The cosmetic approach is appropriate when customer’s usage of a product is the same but differs only in how they want it to be presented. The transparent approach to customization is appropriate when customers’ specific needs are easily predictable.
The various combinations of the approaches to customization have to be explored and a company has to come up with the
combination that would create customer unique value at the lowest possible cost.

Product Development – A Way to Survive Competition
Creating a sustainable product development competitive advantage is the most effective organizational capability, which will have a greater impact on market share and the rate of share growth than other organizational capabilities. The company has to be adept at creating new products and extensions of them to be competitive, according to the changing market conditions and the product life cycle, a factor popularly known as time-to-market and to deliver this capability,being productive and timely is imperative. The rise in customer expectations in this competitive environment has made quality and accuracy (in design), a virtue of design, which also determines a business competitive status.

With the help of processes like Integrated Product Development and Sequential Development, smooth functioning is enabled, accurate budget allocations are made and the risk of performance issues at the functional block level are minimized. During product development stage, supply chain management plays a key role not only in operations to deliver new product, but also in adopting innovative processes such as IPD.

June 17, 2014


The scope and direction of this article would be to introduce the concept of bottleneck in an industry and show how eliminating them is a step towards achieving what is called 'competitive advantage'. In today’s world achieving this is easier said than done, businesses must boost their operational efficiency wherever and whenever possible. It’s a given that – if a company fails to operate efficiently it will soon find itself at the verge of extinction.

Let’s start with an understanding of what exactly a bottleneck is and what automation has anything to do with it? A bottleneck (or constraint) in a supply chain refers to the resource that requires the longest time in operations for a certain demand. An important thing about bottlenecks is that they determine the throughput of a supply chain. Now this brings us to another term - Throughput, which indicates the productivity of a process, a machine, a procedure or a system over a unit period. It’s a part of the Theory of Constraints of business management. The guiding ideology of which is that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So the important thing to note that if bottlenecks are not recognized fast enough, it’s highly likely that you miss out on a chance to increase the overall throughput of the system in consideration.

Now that we know what a bottleneck is and how it affects the productivity of a system let’s start to look at how they can be minimized, I say minimize because in no system can bottlenecks be completely eliminated for the simple reason that as you move on from removing one bottleneck to another a new one seems to appear, though the overall performance of the system may have improved there would still be scope for improvement at every stage of operation. These improvements in processes can be brought upon by better utilization of existing resources or by implementing new techniques. One such method would be to adopt automation, the degree of which may vary across industries.  Automation is a technique of making a process or a system to operate by itself (automatically). It encompasses many vital elements and job functions and virtually provides benefits to almost every industry in existence for example: