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The MBA Experience

This blog contains the assignments that I did as part of my MBA.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Operations Management: Custom Molds Case Study

Major issues facing the Miller family are:

  1. The electronics industry to which they supply and their own business is changing. This is due to the fact that the electronics manufacturers have shifted their strategies; they are now developing strategic partnerships with their suppliers. Custom Molds has to adapt to these changes.
  1. The demand for multiple molds is declining, contrary to the earlier days. Earlier they used to produce custom designed molds for producing plastic parts majorly and limited manufacture of plastic parts. Through the data provided in the case study we can conclude that during the last three years Custom Molds has been consistently getting more work in the mass production of plastic parts and the custom made molds have been decreasing.
  1. The order sizes for plastic parts were increasing. The reason for this being an issue for Custom Molds is that traditionally they have concentrated on the custom molds. But since they are getting a lot more work to produce plastic parts, they probably need to change the job shop layout to something more suitable for mass production.
  1. Delivery problems with plastic parts. The customers have been complaining about the late delivery of parts. Bottlenecks are springing during un-predictable production processes. If this goes on for too long, Custom Molds will lose credibility in front of their customers and some customers may decide to part ways. And the fact that they have still not been able to pin-point the cause is even more devastating.
  1. In-efficient testing and inspection process resulting in orders being returned after delivery. The testing and inspection process has to be carried out as rigorously as possible. Sadly though, Custom Molds’ testing and inspection team has not been doing a good job. Two orders were recently returned to them because of the number of defective parts in the batches. The transportation, packing, shipping etc. costs have to be incurred by the company and could have been avoided if the testing and inspection been rigorous.

Companies compete in the marketplace by virtue of one or more of the following competitive priorities ( Hayes and Wheelwright, 1984) :

  1. Quality
  2. Lead-time
  3. Cost
  4. Flexibility
  • Quality
    • Should be of top quality
    • Should be consistent
    • Delivery should be on-time
    • High development speed
    • Low cost
    • Ability to reduce cost to at least competitor’s cost, if not lower.
    • Customization of the mould
    • Quality
      • Should be consistent
      • On-time delivery
      • Low cost
      • Variable volumes without affecting the cost

      As shown by the table provided in the case study, the industry now needs delivery of high quality parts with increased speed and low cost. This can be substantiated by the fact that electronics manufacturers were developing strategic partnerships with suppliers (The Changing Environment, Case Study, page 3). Customers today are increasingly moving towards a strategic supply chain management system, like the one used by Detroit based car companies.

        1. Hire consultants: Custom Molds needs to figure out the reason behind un-predictable bottlenecks popping up all over the production process and needs to do it quickly else they might lose some of their clients. Consultants have the advantage of looking at the bigger picture from outside and may be able to help Custom Molds figure out the reason behind the bottlenecks. Key factors: Cost of hire, consultants must be specialist in this field.
          1. Change plant layout: Custom Molds also needs to change the plant layout from job shop to probably assembly line. This is due to the fact that they are getting more business in the plastic parts manufacture than the custom moulds and plastic parts are produced in large volumes. Key factors: Down time of the plant while changing the layout, cost of layout change, proper utilization of available space.
          1. Invest in a proper supply chain system: The Company needs a proper supply chain system which is agile, adaptable and aligned (Lee, 2004) to the interests of all firms involved. This will help them in managing expectations of the clients by knowing when they will be able to deliver the product. Key factors: Consent of all users/suppliers, cost of the SC system, reliability of the SC system, usage of the SC system.
          1. Use of Information Technology in testing & inspection, and in calculating delivery times: Information Technology can help the company to automate the testing & inspection process thereby reducing the re-work. IT can also help Custom Molds to determine realistic delivery times. Key factors: Cost of the IT system, time frame of installation, inputs from the potential users of the IT system.
          1. Prepare for a complete phase-out of custom moulds: It’s a long term alternative but is very much realistic. The company may start losing money producing custom moulds if their quantity reduces too much. The company would be better off in investing the same resources in producing plastic parts instead. Key factors: A proper market analysis of custom moulds, analysis of the return on investment and the minimum number of moulds to remain profitable, other avenues of diversification.
          1. Invest in Research and Development: The Company would be better off to invest in R&D in order to stay ahead of its competition. R&D can often show ways to reduce costs by maintaining the same quality. Key factors: Cost involved, clear expected milestones
          1. Start looking at expansion plans: As the company grows and starts taking orders for plastic parts exceeding 5000 order size, they will start feeling the need to expand, both in number of resources and space available. They are thereby advised to start looking at expansion plans, which can consume precious time. Key factors: Cost involved, thorough analysis of future/expected growth, type of growth (organic/inorganic), timeframe of growth, where to expand,
          1. Hayes, Robert H., and Wheelwright, Steven C., Restoring Our Competitive Edge: Competing Through Manufacturing. New York: John Wiley, 1984
          1. Lee, Hau L. “The triple-A supply chain.” Harvard Business Review 82.10 (2004) : 102-112, 157.
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          CUSTOM MOLDS INC. CASE STUDY 1 MSC ] MAY 21, 2001

          Presentation on theme: “CUSTOM MOLDS INC. CASE STUDY 1 MSC ] MAY 21, 2001″— Presentation transcript:

          1 CUSTOM MOLDS INC. CASE STUDY 1 MSC 303.103] MAY 21, 2001
          TEAM 2: Kristin Harvin, Jung Lee, Andrea Price, Kadek Santi

          2 Description Established father-son business
          began with focus on molds and later expanded into the production of plastic parts has traditionally focused on quality, design of both molds and parts, mass production as well as customization total order numbers have remained the same, but clients’ needs have shifted

          3 Issues Changing strategies within their clients’ businesses changed order needs in an unexpected way total time from order placement to receipt by customer is much longer than promised more and more products defective bottlenecks in production can’t predict where, when, why

          4 Analysis Many issues are the result of general inefficiency in several departments offices: design conceptualization taking too long, ideas go back and forth between engineers and managers and customers far too much mold fabrication: needs have changed; need to make very small batches of many different designs, necessitating more runs on different settings (flexible flow strategy)

          5 Analysis (cont.) Parts fabrication (injection, assembly): needs to make large batches of the same design, necessitating fewer (longer) runs on the same settings (line flow strategy) testing: could probably be more efficient in terms of time spent, and there are too many defects receiving, mixing, and shipping not apparently a problem; do not account for much time spent on project

          6 Recommendations: In mold fabrication: focus on many, small-capacity, specialized machines with more workers to oversee settings in parts fabrication (injection, assembly, cutting & trimming): focus on few, large capacity specialized machines with fewer workers, as there are few settings-changes to oversee

          7 Recommendations (cont.):
          Move testing area to more central location for more time-efficient movement of goods back and forth and increased, easier communication between testers and office and manufacturing areas so that problems that caused defects can be quickly recognized and fixed.

          8 Recommendations (cont.):
          Office: make order placement based on ability to complete product requested in time promised (through communication with other departments) coordinate inter-department communication in design development with more efficient process (not so much back and forth); CUT TIME SPENT IN HALF

          9 Recommendations (cont.)
          Form position to study market so that customers’ needs can be identified and predicted; use to determine needs of facility and human resources focus on overall efficiency in terms of process, movement, inter-department communication evaluate effects of proposed changes on company finances, figuring ROI

          10 Recommendation: Alternative
          Analyze market and decide, based on the changes in the needs of the market, whether to focus on parts OR molds proceed with applicable recommendations made previously

          11 Textbook Question 1 What are the major issues facing Tom and Mason Miller? See slides concerning “Issues”

          12 Textbook Question 2 Identify the individual processes on a flow diagram. What are the competitive priorities for these processes and the changing nature of the industry? See flow diagram for all information

          13 Textbook Question 3 What alternative might the Millers pursue? What key factors should they consider as they evaluate these alternatives? They should consider alternatives as described in “Recommendations” while always considering the needs of the market and the effect the changes will have on finances, including the ROI