Learning concepts within operations management
As operations manager many are concepts involved to grasp from acquisition of resources to produce goods and service that respond to today customer requirement/demand and deliver them in timely manner.
From the first introductory week, a broad understanding of why the subject is so important for efficiency and effectiveness of all activities involved in transforming inputs to acceptable outputs in the market touched my heart and shape my thinking on some aspect I thought less relevant in the operations, such as, for instance, the layout itself, and job design, and that without addressing issues related to them, no chance to run the plant/organization and yet meet the five performance objectives characteristics of flexibility, speed, dependability, quality and above all the address the cost issues. As Stevenson (2011) mentions, is in operations area where large percentage of a company expenses occur.
Decisions about the location/facilities where transformation should occur are amongst one of the most important to undertake, and this have long-term impact for organization and its values including manufacturing cost, lead times, work in progress and productivity. What I draw from the discussion was that layout design should be kept as top priority because if not, can cause inefficient operations as mentioned above, which in turn leads to many drawbacks. However, the arrangement of resources needed to produce goods and or delivery of services include a good planning for this be able to quickly respond to changes in demand and production volume (i.e. changes in material handling over multiple periods, such as years, months or weeks) (Drira et al., 2007). Slack et al. (2014) indicate existing five main types of production facilities including fixed product layout, functional layout, cell layout, product layout, and mixed layout that depending on the business characteristic the organization undertake, should be applied to maximize the effectiveness of the production process while meeting the needs of customers as well as its employees, and above all will help eliminate unnecessary cost concerning the material handling and space and offering high flexibility.
In the involved decisions in process technology, was so important learning that matters choosing adequate technology to facilitate/support the input transformations process and thus optimization of production (Slack et al., 2014). This includes implement data tracking system such as SAP that helps creating trends supporting monitoring the production performance (KPI’s); track machine breakdown history; monitoring the inventories and cost and son on. For example, the high technology applied I Qatalum production process in cells (HAL250) helps reach high production (high volume) and efficiency. Utilizing metal tapping vehicle instead of mobile crane gives the logistics flexibility to travel into different cell rooms combining the same metal quality and minimize time and the vehicle itself can be used to deliver liquid metal in cast house furnaces (Qatalum Company, 2013).
The side effect of bad job design is overall operation performance (Slack et al., 2014). This includes taking into consideration the well-being of employees (make the workplace enjoyable and safe). Machines and work practice that puts employees in risk are not acceptable in professional operations management. One aspect the Slack, Brandon-Jones, and Johnston (2014) stress on managers and that called my attention in the matter was that although technology play a very important role in overall performance, we need to be careful not to automate all activities as this can effects on employee morale, on the contrary, should be among elements supporting job effectiveness. So a wise evaluation on what can motivate or hurt employees is extremely important in this task. Involving them on finding what the best work practices, how comfortable they feel and what is needed to reach high level of happiness at work and thus formulate a consensus and standardized work procedures and policies should be an aim for all operations managers to seek.
Planning and control
Planning and control decision in ongoing activities to transform and deliver goods and services determines company sustainability for long, medium, and short run. However, in operations I learn that market demand of goods and services we provide can change over the time and the ability to maneuver and forecast changes can bring operation efficiency. Slack, Brandon-Jones, and Johnston (2014) indicates that sitting down and draw what we intend to do in our business (future state/scope) would be the planning process. This includes describing the resources needed and activities to be carried on. WBS is an effective technique in planning process and allows breaking down every activity, to access resources and respective budget (Meredith & Mantel, 2014). However, things may change as we implement our desires, customers need and wants may change. On the other hand, control is all about monitoring the effectiveness of resources allocated for its successful delivery. Close control help anticipate future problems thus immediate interventions when deviation are found may need to be taken as course of action to bring operation back on track (Slack et al., 2014 and).
Capacity planning and control
As we scan the environment demand we need to come back to measure and adjust the capacity to satisfy those changes in demand. Many factors can determine the strategy to apply and deploy the resources as to optimize cost, those related to seasonality demand (Holidays, Ramadan, weather, and festive times, and so on); weekly and daily demand (days and hour of hang and low demand). From presented demand fluctuation factors in some cases will be needed to adjust workforce size (staff inside organization or recruit part-time staff, working time, or even subcontracting) (Slack at al., 2014). However, balancing capacity and demand offer flexibility to deliver goods and service in timely manner (eliminate/mitigate waiting queues) which bring high customer satisfaction, boosting profit for the company as new customers are attracted to demand our offering and the existing ones become loyal to our product and service (Slack at al., 2014).
Slack, N., Brandon-Jones, A. & Johnston, R. (2014) Operations management. 7th ed. Harlow: Pearson Education.
Drira, A., Pierreval, H., & Hajri-Gabouj, S. (2007) ‘Facility layout problems: A survey’, Annual Reviews in Control, 31(2), 255-267.
Qatalum Company (2013) Technology [online]. Available at: https://www.qatalum.com/AboutUs/Technology/Pages/Technology.aspx (Accessed: 24 June 2015)
Meredith, J.R. & Mantel, S.J. (2014), Project management – a managerial approach. 9th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons.