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The Key Manufacturing Task  

Issues In Manufacturing Strategy 

Kansas City

28 SEP 2018

Issue# 85

Complexity and interconnectedness in a factory system often causes designers and decision-makers to lose focus. They jump from one priority to another and, inadvertently, build a factory that attempts too many disparate tasks for too many distinct products with too many incompatible processes for too many dissimilar customers. The result is a factory that is difficult to manage and performs poorly.

The Key Manufacturing Task concept has proven invaluable in developing effective Manufacturing Strategies and also in facility planning. It helps to:

Like any engineering design, a factory sacrifices performance on some parameters in order to maximize performance on others. Quality, Delivery Speed, and Product Mix Flexibility are examples of factory performance parameters. Technology and budgets also put constraints on any design.

The identification of the Key Manufacturing Task(s) helps designers and decision makers concentrate on the important issues. Wickham Skinner's classic case study of Babcock & Wilcox illustrates the consequences when decision makers lose focus. See The Great Nuclear Fizzle at Babcock & Wilcox.

The Key Manufacturing Task links Marketing and Manufacturing. It lies at the murky confluence of Manufacturing, Marketing and Corporate strategies.

Professor Terry Hill of Oxford introduced the concept of Order-Winning Criteria that helps to clarify and define the Key Manufacturing Task. Our web page, The Key Manufacturing Task, discusses Order Winning Criteria and our Key Manufacturing Task Case Study provides a real-life, practical illustration.

Strategos can assist with your Manufacturing Strategy development by facilitating the strategic debate and highlighting the relevant issues. If the possibilities intrigue you, and the probably should, call me to discuss them.

Best Regards,

Quarterman Lee


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