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Aug 19, 2010

Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM)

QRM is a strategy for drastically reducing the time between a product being a concept and when it is completed. This is referred to in Lean thinking as being the ‘lead time’.Lean thinking is very much geared towards the reduction of lead time, hence why QRM can be an important strategy within Lean thinking. It can be used in place of Lean thinking, but more often it is used as a tool when adopting Lean manufacturing principles.

The whole QRM strategy is focused on quickly going through the design process and developing products to meet a customer’s needs. However this is not to say that quality is shelved in response to trying to produce goods quickly.

In fact the second driving force behind QRM is to meet the customer’s needs. Customers will usually expect that their suppliers are able to meet their needs and to do so quickly and this is where QRM can provide companies with a competitive edge, when it comes to securing new business.

QRM almost revolutionises how goods are produced because it cuts through much of the time taken within the design stages and ensures that the time taken to design and then produce something is substantially reduced. Given that the design process is often seen as a ‘creative role’ that cannot be rushed, this is a significant change in approach, especially given that the customer’s needs are given such a high priority throughout all stages of both design and production.

Company Wide Approach

For QRM to be an effective strategy it has to be adopted throughout the whole company; it cannot be isolated to the design process or to the manufacturing process- all different sections of the company need to be committed to QRM.

Companies who are implementing QRM also need to analyse performance, seek to improve it continuously and also have an incremental approach to its implementation, doing it step by step throughout the company rather than simply changing everything overnight.

Primarily this is because QRM requires every section in any company to be aware of the role that it plays within the company and how they feed into the process of production, even functions such as administration or the warehousing section. Each has a part to play and each section needs to look at exactly what it can do to reduce lead times.

Benefits Of QRM

It is estimated that when QRM has been successfully implemented within a company then lead times can be reduced by as much as 95% although this figure is often lower, but nonetheless, lead times are reduced and so waste is eliminated from the process of production which leads to greater efficiency.

It is estimated that this efficiency can result in the finished product costing around 30% less to produce, which gives businesses a real incentive to adopt the QRM strategy.

In addition the fact that the driving forces behind QRM are the reduction in lead times and meeting the customer’s needs, the rate of defects or shoddy goods is also significantly reduced, sometimes by up to 60%.

So there are certainly some good reasons for implementing this strategy but it is a strategy that requires the whole company to be behind it and this can take time to achieve, especially with some functions such as administration or human resources, that do not automatically think that they have any role to play in terms of the lead times or productivity. Thus QRM does require a significant change in terms of the culture of an organization.