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Ananth Krishnamurthy

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QRM center gives Wisconsin company a bright future

In the early 2000s, Milwaukee-based Phoenix Products was facing a host of challenges, including increasingly slow deliveries to customers, out-of-control inventory and high employee turnover. "We were constantly expediting projects," recalls Scott Fredrick, the company's chief executive officer. "Everything was an emergency, and we weren't getting anywhere." By 2004, the issues had reached a crescendo for the special-purpose-lighting equipment manufacturer. "We had been running overtime every Saturday for a year and a half," Fredrick says. "We had to do something."

An article in the Business Journal of Milwaukee by Rajan Suri, a UW-Madison professor emeritus of industrial and systems engineering, introduced Fredrick to what that something would be. Fredrick attended a seminar hosted by the UW-Madison Center for Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM), founded by Suri and currently directed by Ananth Krishnamurthy, an associate professor of industrial and systems engineering. Read the full story on Phoenix Products experience with QRM here.

Custom solutions keep manufacturers competitive

Every weeknight when the lights come up on the set of “The Tonight Show” the staff at Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC) can point to the television screen and say "we did that."

As a global company, ETC produces lighting fixtures for many countries, each with different voltage and connector standards. To find a way to efficiently produce a variety fixtures, the company turned to the UW–Madison Center for Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM). The center is a partnership between UW–Madison and more than 50 member companies dedicated to researching and implementing quick-response manufacturing (QRM) principles, methods and tools.


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In tough times, Omnipress cuts time to recover

In the difficult business climate following 9/11 — the last time the economy turned sour — leaders of Madison, Wisconsin-based printing company Omnipress decided it was time for a change. Specializing in conference and educational meeting material solutions such as printed books, handouts, CD ROMs, or flash drives, Omnipress started to implement QRM principles in growing market for conference publications delivered on CDs. With the help from students in the UW-Madison Center for Quick Response Manufacturing, Omnipress reorganized its CD workflow around a newly formed "CD cell," combining all CD-related operations on one team. Cell members were cross-trained to do almostevery job, ensuring a flexible workflow. The results were startling. Read the full story here.

Innovative solution in a tough business climate

In a challenging economic environment, manufacturers look for new ways to compete in a global marketplace. As part of OEM Off-Highway Magazine's cover story "In the Spirit of Shackleton" (July 2009), QRM Center director Ananth Krishnamurthy explained how QRM has helped companies in making highly customized products at a competitive price. "Some of our member companies, even in this down economy, have been able to not only maintain but also grow their market because their competition is suffering," said Krishnamurthy.

QRM part of National Oilwell Varco's success

In its annual ranking of the 500 largest (by sales) publicly traded companies in the U.S. and Canada, measured in their success at boosting their sales and cash flow, Barron’s Magazine, a major business weekly, ranked QRM Center member company National Oilwell Varco within the top three. The company attributes its strong growth in part on improved manufacturing efficiencies, brought about by the implementation of Quick Response Manufacturing.

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