Quick Response Manufacturing: Agility, a Driving Force of Competitiveness and Growth


Created in the United States 21 years ago by Rajan Suri, Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) aims to eliminate idle time in companies’ production and decision-making stages. A methodology that relies on the employees and their knowledge of the mechanisms and processes to reduce any possible blockages. On February 2, 2017, EM Strasbourg organized, within the scope of its FM Logistic Chair, an expert opinion conference bringing together several professionals who are devotees of the QRM method.

“The objective of Quick Response Manufacturing is not to work faster but to work more fluidly and to always stay on the move,” explains Dominique Andreux, head of the consulting firm Quick Response Enterprise and a guest speaker at EM Strasbourg. In an economic context that is considered more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous, this methodology makes it possible to rethink the company's production or decision-making processes through the prism of time rather than money. It allows a task by task identification of useful and useless time slots. The former are those that mobilize the skills and added value of employees. The latter are usually made up of dead time, round trips, and corrections with the customer, for example. It is the the company’s functioning then that must be reviewed, allowing employees to express themselves and take the initiative to arrive at new, more agile modes of operation adapted to the permanent variability of the activity.



A Useful Methodology for Managers

And what is valid in a factory is also valid in offices. Philippe Jager, Administrative and Financial Director of the Wolfberger Cooperative Winery, is delighted with the move within his management team. What are his issues? Improving short-term visibility of financial flows and striving for optimal cash management in a business where large fixed assets and inventories are absolutely essential. “The QRA (Quick Response Administration) approach has enabled employees from different departments, who did not necessarily talk to each other before, to meet in the same place and exchange ideas,” he continues. The result is a better understanding of each other's problems, a new fluidity in relationships, and increased versatility for everyone. From an operational point of view, this approach has, for example, made it possible to improve reliability and drastically reduce the time taken to register supplier invoices.



... and for Industry

Florence Moro, Project Manager at Hager Group, for her part, is pleased with the beneficial effects on the organization of production. The company, a European leader in the electrical parts market, is faced with the volatile dimension of today's markets: being able to produce small series of parts, custom-made and sometimes deliverable in just 24 hours. This challenge was met by setting up a reflection process at team level, and by seeking out each team member’s skills: “We've gone from batch sizes of 500 to 50 pieces while reducing delivery times,” explains Florence Moro. How? For example, by opting for smaller molds that are quicker to change, or by bringing two activities in the factory closer together geographically: the injection and the assembly of the parts. “Restructuring our activity has directly led to an increase in our operators’ skills”, she notes.

This observation is a reminder that human resources management is essential in the implementation of a QRM approach. “By putting people at the heart of the process, we break down this silo mentality, we free up the company and the talent”, concludes Dominique Andreux. Provided that you have the full support of the company's management in the project. They can be convinced by the promise of increased efficiency and market share gains in most of the companies that have implemented this approach.

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