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QRM 2012 Conference in Arnhem, Netherlands

arnhem_wtc.jpgHigh-speed trains zipping by meeting room windows provided a fitting backdrop for this year’s QRM Conference held from June 4-7 in Arnhem, Netherlands. The futuristic Intercity trains served as a vivid reminder of QRM’s increasing international reach. Organized by the European QRM Center at HAN University, this was the first time the event was held outside the US.

But their breathtaking acceleration also illustrated the overarching theme of the event: the need for speed in today’s global marketplace and how companies from around the world have used QRM to become more responsive to their customers.

Focusing on short lead times as a competitive advantage is an urgent matter for many manufacturing enterprises: faced with an uncertain economic situation at home and increased competition from abroad, companies in Europe and the United States will need to sharpen their competitive edge in order to succeed. "We are strong competitively but the structural underlying developments could be better. We cannot afford not to improve," summarized Vincent Wiegel, director of the QRM Center Europe and professor at HAN University, the situation for the more than 110 audience members from the USA, Israel, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Chile and the Netherlands.

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It's in the Cards - POLCA at Joy Global

At its Milwaukee, Wis. facility, P&H Mining - recently renamed to Joy Global - faces huge planning and manufacturing challenges. As a producer of large customized mining equipment, the company makes many low-volume, high-variability parts that require a complex manufacturing process. Their solution to the difficult scheduling issues - POLCA, QRM's production control strategy.

In the May/June issue of APICS magazine, Kathy Pelto (Project Manager) and Bob Mueller (Factory Manager) of Joy Global describe their POLCA journey and provide an industry practitioner's perspective on some of the challenges they encountered along the way. In the POLCA system, cards circulating in loops between cells provide a visual signal indicating capacity downstream. It also provided valuable information on capacity constraints. "The POLCA visual signal identified deficiencies in process immediately, so that we didn't lose time in the manufacturing process," said Paul Diedrick, POLCA co-champion.

POLCA significantly improved operations performance and lead times for cell parts are down 75 to 80 percent. The company also saw WIP decrease by more than $3 million and output of critical gearing components increased by 253 percent. Read the full article in this months APICS magazine (subscribers only).

It's About Time -- to Adapt

True or false: U.S. manufacturing jobs will continue to be lost to China and other lower-cost countries because American manufacturers simply can’t compete with their labor costs. False. Typically, only 7% of the final price of a typical made-in-the-USA product is due to direct labor. So, what accounts for the remaining 93%?

The organization of the entire enterprise and supply chain, argues Rajan Suri, founding director of the QRM Center, in the current issue of the Manufacturing Executive Leadership Journal. An agile, adaptive organization, able to deliver products at short lead times will not only win customers but also take a huge chunk out of the 93% of "organization" costs.

Read how lead time reduction can transform the entire enterprise in this free sample of the Manufacturing Executive Leadership Journal's March issue.

Tagged in: Rajan Suri Strategy

Happy Holidays

We here at the QRM Center wish you happy holidays and a successful new year. Thank you for your support and interest in QRM. We are looking forward to helping you learn and use QRM in 2012 - and to make your companies faster and more competitive.

Need a light--now?

In its current issue Fabricator magazine published a detailed profile of Phoenix Products, a manufacturer of exterior lighting for the mining industry as well as marine, industrial and material-handling applications. The Milwaukee, Wis.-based company started QRM implementation in 2004 and has since achieved some impressive results, like reducing lead times for the light fixture on the left from eight to two weeks.

The extensive article highlights some of the familiar challenges for companies like Phoenix, that operate in a high-mix, low-voulme environment: the benefits and limits of Lean, coming to terms with QRM's new ways of thinking about things like capacity utilization and batch sizes, and the significant benefits deriving from a focus on lead time.

Tagged in: Phoenix Products
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