Sally has been working for Test-Prep Machining, Inc. for the past 5 years, since she graduated from college. Test-Prep Machining specializes in manufacturing gears and cutting tools for the tool and die industry. It is considered a high-quality company that prides itself on rapid response to customer orders. At the beginning of the year, Sally was promoted to assistant manager for plant operations with a broad mandate to “analyze our operations to spot any problems that could affect customer satisfaction.” Sally spent time walking the plant floor to familiarize herself with the manufacturing system. Test-Prep Machining uses a cellular manufacturing layout. The process flow works like this: All raw materials arrive at receiving and are sent to inventory. The actual plant layout consists of five cells:
Shaping—rough molding of alloys and steel gear bits
Cutting—mechanical cutting to specific shapes or orders
Grinding—rough finishing of gears or tools to remove debris or rough edges
Polishing—final finish for gears or tools
Testing—quality check against original specifications for all finished products.
Sally noticed the actual cells for the operations consist of two (2) shaping stations, three (3) cutting stations, two (2) grinding stations, four (4) polishing stations, and two (2) testing cells. She is concerned the current cellular layout is actually delaying manufacturing because of the difficulty of balancing the workers and tasks among the five cells. Test-Prep Machining, Inc.’s production schedule calls for five 8-hour workdays per week. The company has a current workforce of 80 for these five cells. The company’s goal is to manufacture 600 units of the finished product per week. Sally has decided to present her concerns to her manager.
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