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Five Reasons Why QRM is Going to Change Dutch Industry

by David Kemps, Banker - Industry Sector, ABN-AMRO Bank, the Netherlands.

English translation of the “Insights” column, May 2015, on the ABN-AMRO Bank website.

Nearly 20 years ago Prof. Dr. Rajan Suri published his first book on Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM). In 2015, this process improvement method is in the limelight through its resounding results. Now that foreign competition is getting stronger and pressure on costs remains high, many industrialists are trying to adapt their organizations to the “low-volume, high-mix” customer requirements. However, production processes are currently tuned for optimum efficiency, while the customer requires customization and flexibility. These goals appear to conflict with each other, but in fact, QRM can increase the effectiveness of production in this low-volume high-mix environment, and thus improve customer satisfaction. 

These are my five reasons why QRM will change Dutch industry:

1. QRM Provides Competitive Advantage

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Provan Receives Belgian “Factory of the Future” Award

Provan, a Belgian supplier specializing in laser and sheet-metal working, welding and assembly, was recently recognized as a “Factory of the Future” as part of that country’s campaign, “Made Different.”

The “Factory of the Future” is a campaign launched by the Belgian government in recognition of the challenges faced by Belgian companies and the need for them to be innovative and future-proof.  The “Made Different” project is driven by Agoria, the Belgian federation for technology and industry and Sirris, the collective center for and by the country’s technological industry. To qualify for the award, a company must demonstrate seven essential transformations including modernization of machines, digitization, staff involvement and ecology.

Provan, one of the first of four companies recognized for the award, focuses on the Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) strategy in everything it does - with the goal of reducing lead times and working with the lowest possible stock levels. Even the introduction of a new operational planning system was designed and almost fully digitized to support QRM.  For Provan’s customers, this means the company can quickly respond to changing market demands with new products and modifications.

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Marel Manufacturing System Drives Speed and Quality Throughout its Global Operations

How does a multinational organization made up of 4,000 employees of different cultures who speak different languages and perform different functions at sites in 30 countries develop a dominant, enterprise wide, unifying strategy that is understood and embraced by all?

Marel, which designs and manufactures highly customized food-processing equipment, faced that challenge after nearly three decades of expanding through acquisitions. It purchased Stork Food Systems in 2008, a firm with U.S. roots dating to the 1850s that had its own blend of acquisitions, history, culture and manufacturing practices. Equal in size to what Marel had become, Stork introduced even greater diversity into the parent company’s operations and culture. With the acquisition of Stork, Marel’s international profile now includes, in addition to multiple sales offices and its Iceland headquarters, 17 manufacturing sites in Iceland and the United States, the Netherlands, Brazil, China, Singapore, the UK, Spain, Denmark, Norway and Slovakia. The global economic crisis of 2008–09 led to changes in Marel’s top management. Aligning the sales function to achieve one consistent image, one identity, one “voice” to the customer emerged as a primary goal. “Customers saw us as a conglomeration of different companies,” says Global Manufacturing Director Fred Vijverstra. A parallel goal was to effectively capitalize on synergies within and among Marel’s various facilities. Each had developed its own unique operational process improvements, but there had never been a structured way for those to be shared. Netherlands-based Vijverstra, a 20-year Marel veteran who holds a degree in mechanical engineering, was charged with helping to integrate the conglomerate’s strengths through the design, implementation and oversight of a new manufacturing strategy that would help meld Marel’s disparate cultures and processes. He brought together an equal number of representatives from Marel and Stork; they agreed that the focus had to change from the organization’s differences to a new vision that recognized the organization’s similarities. It took until 2010 to formulate and formalize what was to become the Marel Manufacturing System, or MMS, and until 2011 to be ready to introduce and roll out the new approach to its 17 manufacturing facilities.  

Varied customer base means varied customer needs and equipment

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Suri’s Second Book, "It’s About Time," Now Available in Six Languages

It’s About Time, the second book about Quick Response Manufacturing published by Rajan Suri, Emeritus Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, has recently been translated into Spanish.  With this new translation, the book is now available in six languages.  All  translations from the original were initiated, not by Suri, but by organizations in those local markets that felt the book was of great relevance to their industry and approached Suri’s publisher for translation rights.


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Rajan Suri's New MCT Quick Reference Guide Reviewed by "The FABRICATOR" Magazine

Senior editor Tim Heston reviews Suri's newest reference guide to Manufacturing Critical-path Time, breaking down Suri's explanation of what goes into this key metric and what it takes to adapt in the manufacturing industry today. Click here to read the full article.


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