The era of 1960 after was the one characterized by reductions in productivity of manufacturing operations, employee morale was very low, job opportunities were feeble, quality was deteriorating, few investments in the industrial sector. The above mentioned factors along with the increase in the imports from Japan led to the most turbulent times in the American history. The top management was shifting its focus from core manufacturing and production functions to the finance and marketing operations.
In 1969 W. Skinner proposed the concept of the “Manufacturing Strategy”, which states that the top management must keep it decision making in their hand in terms of production policy making; so as to the provide the lower level management the guidelines for taking day to day decisions. He also introduces the concept of “Focus Factory” which states that the top management must focus on the ability to be flexible, gauge the market changes and adapt accordingly. He describes how the manufacturing function can become the competitive weapon for the organization.
The seminal article by Duguay et al. (1997) discusses the two paradigms of mass production and flexible/agile production.
“Mass production” was characterized by the features like the division of labour, interchangeable parts and mechanization. The markets grew steadily leading to expansion of facilities and multiple plant locations. This forced the manufacturers to improve productive capacities and speed of manufacturing. Taylor introduced the concept of “Scientific Management” encompassing the ideologies of time and motion studies, and Scheduling. But all this widened the gap between the decision makers and task performers. It describes the main characteristics of mass producers as economies of scale, few innovations; production focused direct labour and opportunist suppliers.
The era of mass production ended in the 1980’s leading to the emergence of the new paradigm of “Flexible/Agile Production”....