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OPERATIONS STRATEGY PROCESS SELECTION AND CAPACITY PLANNING Product and service choices, process selection, capacity planning,

and choices about location and layout are among the most basic decisions managers must make because those decisions have long-term consequences for the organization. PROCESS SELECTION Process refers to the way an organization chooses to produce its goods or provide its services. Essentially it involves choice of technology and related issue, and it has major implications for capacity planning, layout facilities, equipment, and design of work systems. Make or buy. In make of buy decisions, a number of factors are usually considered. 1. Available capacity (usually, contractual works are more costly). 2. Expertise. 3. Quality considerations (some specialized companies may provide higher quality; otherwise, if a strict quality control is essential, self-production may become the choice). 4. The nature of demand (if steady do yourself; wide fluctuations or small orders may require subcontracting, however). 5. Cost (the most important factor, linked to all of the above). Type of processes <to remind> Continuous and Repetitive/Assembly. (As a rule, products from these systems are made for inventory than customer order). Batch and job shops (intermittent processing). (Products/services are, sometimes, made for inventory, but usually are designed to meet custom consumer needs. Marketing efforts in these systems are often directed toward promoting system processing capabilities or customized services). Projects. (Customized solutions only). Match the Process and the Product. Product variety High Moderate Equipment High Moderate flexibility Low volume Job Shop Moderate Batch volume High volume Very high volume Poor match would suggest the potential for improvement.
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Low Low

Very low Very low

Repetitive assembly Continuous flow

Over a product life cycle, volume requirements change. This must be taken into account when planning/changing processes. Automation is the substitution of machinery for human labor. Besides obvious advantages <discuss>, automation also has drawbacks: - costly (requires high volumes of output to offset the costs); - less flexible than humans; - social issues (workers see automation as a potential for loosing jobs). Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). Numerically controlled machines (N/C) are programmed to follow a set of processing instructions based on mathematical relationships that tell the machine the details of the operations to be performed. (Such equipment can be very expensive). Individual machines may have their own computer (computerized numerical control [CNC]). One computer may control a number of N/C machines, which is referred to as direct numerical control (DNC). Robots consist of three parts: mechanical arm, power supply, and a controller <advantages of robots; read more about robots from other sources>. Japanese manufacturing firms are major users of robots. Robots differentiate by task complexity: - follow instruction; - programmable robots, going a sequence of tasks; - computer-operated robots; - robots with object recognition and simple decision-making. Flexible manufacturing system (FMS) is a group of machines that include supervisory computer control, automatic material handling, and robots or other automated equipment. Reprogrammable controllers enable these systems to produce a variety of similar products. FMS are designed to handle intermittent processing equipment with some of the benefits of automation and some of the flexibility of individual, or stand-alone, machines (N/C machines). (i.e. Flexibility of a job shop processing and the productivity of repetitive processing systems). FMS requires longer planning and development time (i.e. cost). Computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) is a system of linking a broad range of manufacturing activities through an integrating computer system, including engineering design, flexible manufacturing systems, and production planning and control (not all elements are absolutely necessary). Complex systems can link scheduling, purchasing, inventory control, shop control, and distribution. Generally, CIM integrates information from other areas of an organization with manufacturing.

To conclude. Process selection requires engineering expertise. In the long run, the solution is to hire and promote managers who have both managerial and technical skills and expertise. In the short run, managers must work with technical experts, asking questions and increasing their understanding of the benefits and limitations of sophisticated processing equipment and technology, and ultimately make decisions themselves. Thus, there is a real need for management of technology. The proportion of total costs represented by fixed costs is becoming larger, and the proportion of variable costs is becoming smaller. This means that the volume of output has a decreasing effect on total cost, a situation that can be particularly burdensome during periods of slow demand. Also, automation creates additional requirements for the maintenance and repair of highly specialized equipment. Managers must proceed cautiously with decisions to automate, carefully weighing the benefits and risks before making what are usually long-term commitments. Flexibility, besides its importance, does not always offer the best choice in processing decisions i.e. costs are not outweighed by revenues. E.g. products in mature stages would not require many changes in design. These situations would require specialized equipment with no need for flexibility. Flexibility should be adopted with great care; applications should be matched with situations in which a need for flexibility clearly exists. Flexible systems are chosen for either (1) varied demand or (2) uncertain demand. The second is better to be overcome through improved forecasting.

CAPACITY PLANNING Capacity is an upper limit on the load that an operating unit can handle. (Operating unit can be a plant, department, machine, store, or worker). The load can be specified in terms of either inputs or outputs (which approach to use is a matter of convenience). (E.g., processing 45 pounds of raw material per hour is input capacity; producing 18 pieces per hour is output capacity). Basic questions about capacity are: 1. What kind of capacity is needed? (i.e. related to what products/services?) 2. How much is needed? 3. When is it needed? All decisions relative to capacity, facilities, location, and the like are governed by product and service choices. Importance of capacity decisions. 1. Ability to meet future demands. (Capacity limits the rate of output possible). 2. Balanced choice between the costs of over- and undercapacity. (Operating costs are minimized given the match [or at least balance] between demand and capacity). 3. Capacity is the major determinant of cost. (Larger units cost more, but have lesser cost per unit of production). 4. Implemented capacity resources have long-term commitment. (It may be difficult/impossible to modify those decisions without incurring major costs).
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Defining and measuring capacity. Capacity is the upper limit of the rate of output. (Sounds simple, but difficulties arise on the interpretations of the term). - In measures of capacity it is important to choose one that does not require updating (e.g. dollar measure is inappropriate). - Given a list of different produced items, number of items as output capacity becomes misleading (in this case, an input capacity may be a solution). Dimensions of capacity: 1. Design capacity: the maximum output that can be possibly attained. 2. Effective capacity: the maximum possible output given a product mix, scheduling difficulties, machine maintenance, quality factors, and so on. 3. Actual output: rate of output actually achieved (which is less than effective capacity due to breakdowns, defective output, shortage of materials, and similar factors). Measures of capacity examples Business Inputs Auto manufacturing Labor hours, machine hours Steel mill Furnace size Oil refinery Refinery size Farming Number of acres, # of cows Restaurant Theater Retail sales Number of tables, seating capacity Number of seats Square feet of floor space

Outputs Cars per shift Tons of steel per day Gallons of fuel per day Bushels of grain per acre per year, gallons of milk per day Number of meals served per day Number of tickets sold per performance Revenue per day

Efficiency = Actual output / Effective capacity Utilization = Actual output / Design capacity E.g. given Design capacity = 50 trucks per day; Effective capacity = 40; Real capacity = 36; Efficiency = 36/40 = 90%; Utilization = 36/50 = 72%. (i.e. stressing only efficiency is sometimes misleading; stress must be made on increasing effective capacity). Determinants of effective capacity 1. Facilities. (Design of facilities [size, provision for expansion], location factors [transportation, distance to markets, labor supply, energy sources], work area layout, environmental factors [where personnel either may work efficiently or will struggle to overcome poor design characteristics]).
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Product/Service factors. (Generally, the more uniform the output, the greater is capacity level. Product mix must also be considered to have a coherent production). 3. Process factors. (Besides the direct effect (quantity), quality becomes another important factor, since not meeting the standards leads to rework, inspections, etc., that lower the capacity). 4. Human factors. (Tasks that make up a job, variety of activities involved, training, skill, experience have impact on potential and actual output, as well as absenteeism and labor turnover). 5. Operation factors. (Scheduling problems due to different equipment capabilities; inventory stocking decisions, late deliveries, acceptability of purchased materials and parts, quality inspections and control procedures have impact on effective capacity. Generally, insufficient capacity in one area may affect the overall capacity!). 6. External factors. (External product standards [minimum quality and performance standards], pollution standards, paperwork, union contracts [which limits the number of hours and type of work an employee may do]). In general, inadequate planning is the major limiting determinant of effective capacity.
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Determining capacity requirements. Long-term (trends and cycles) vs. short-term (patterns) capacity planning. Irregular variations are the most complex to deal with since no forecasting mechanisms are applicable. The link between marketing and operations is crucial to realistic determination of capacity requirements. Examples of demand patterns Year Beer sales, toy sales, airline traffic, clothing, vacations, tourism, power usage, gasoline consumption, sports and recreation, education Month Welfare and social security checks, bank transactions Week Retail sales, restaurant meals, automobile traffic, automobile rentals, hotel registrations Day Telephone calls, power usage, automobile traffic, public transportation, retail sales, restaurant meals Developing capacity alternatives 1. Design flexibility into systems. (Provision for future expansion in the original design of a structure frequently can be obtained at a small price compared to what it would cost to remodel an existing structure that did not have such a provision. Flexibility issues involve layout of equipment, location, equipment selection, production planning, scheduling, and inventory policies. Also, new products are less predictable and require higher degree of flexibility; older products are more predictable, but may have limited life span, what then would require readjustment of production; consequently, flexibility is an appealing feature). 2. Take a big picture approach to capacity changes. (Changes in operations may require changes in other elements of a system; e.g. expansion of the number of room in a hotel would require bigger parking, cooking and dining facilities, etc.). 3. Prepare to deal with capacity chunks. (Capacity solutions are frequently discrete [e.g. equipment is capable to produce 40 units per hour, the requirement is, say, 55]; the example becomes even more extreme if open-hearth furnaces or airplanes are considered when providing the desired level of capacity).

Attempt to smooth out capacity requirements. (Unevenness of capacity is another problem. Over- and underutilization are typical problems given fluctuating demand; e.g. increasing the number of buses for peak periods will lead to underutilization during periods of mild demand and would add to the cost of operating system. No simple solution is possible in such cases, but forecasting and heuristics can improve the choice of a solution. Besides, companies may find complementary solutions [conditioners and heaters, snow and water skies] that, sometimes, can be a remedy. <More examples?> Also, subcontracting works may also resolve the situation). 5. Identify the optimal operating level. (Size of a plant conditions the optimal output level [which is, normally, higher for bigger plants with lower cost per unit]. <critique the graph of cost per unit vs. rate of output for a single plant and plants of different sizes).
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Evaluating alternatives 1. Economic considerations. (Will an alternative be economically feasible? How much will it cost? How soon can we have it? What will operating and maintenance costs be? What will its useful life be? Will it be compatible with present personnel and present operations? A number of techniques are useful for evaluation of capacity alternatives from an economic standpoint: cost-volume analysis, financial analysis, decision theory, waitingline analysis). 2. Possible negative public opinion. <Examples> Calculating processing requirements. When evaluating capacity alternatives, a necessary piece of information is the capacity requirements of products that will be processed with a given alternative. To get this information, one must have reasonably accurate demand forecasts for each product, and know the standard processing time per unit for each product on each alternative machine, the number of work days per year, and the number of shifts that will be used. Cost-volume analysis (Break-even point analysis). Profit = TR TC = R x Q (FC + VC x Q) The required volume needed to generate a specific profit is: Volume = (Specific profit + FC) / (R VC) Capacity alternatives may involve step costs, which are costs that increase stepwise as potential volume increases. E.g. there is an option to purchase 1, 2, or 3 machines, with each additional machine increasing fixed cost, although perhaps not linearly. FC would depend on the number of machines purchased. Multiple break-even quantities may occur (possibly, one for each range). Total revenue may not intersect the fixed cost line in a particular range, meaning no BEP for the range.

In order to decide how many machines to purchase, a manager must consider projected annual demand (volume) relative to the multiple break-even points and choose the most appropriate number of machines.

Assumptions of cost-volume analysis <discussion>.

Financial analysis (used to rank investment proposals). Cash flow (difference between cash received from sales and other sources and cash outflow for labor, materials, etc.) Present value (expresses in current value the sum of all future cash flows of an investment proposal). 3 most commonly used methods of financial analysis: payback (ignores time value money), present value, and internal rate of return. <read more from other sources>.