Empirical Approaches to Assess Manufacturing Agility

Empirical Approaches to Assess Manufacturing Agility

P. G. Saleeshya (Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (University), India)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5202-6.ch075
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Introduction

Agility as the term used herein is the ability of an enterprise to respond quickly and successfully to change. For a company to be agile it must be capable of operating profitably in a competitive environment of continuous and unpredictable change (Goldman et al, 1995). Agile manufacturing is a strategy that can create flexible or virtual organizations to meet increasing customer expectations (Huang et al, 2004). Agility is not only the outcome of technological achievement, advanced organizational and managerial structure and practice, but also a product of human abilities, skills and motivations. The technology employed by organizations must support the activities and tasks required in and between firms to continuously meet changing customer needs (Harm and Sirp, 2003). Implementation of agile manufacturing paradigm has been a major objective of many companies. It is important to know and assess the degree of agility of an organization process along with the companies’ progress towards becoming an agile system (Gunasekaran, 2008, 1998 and Anirban et al,2009).

The research reported here consists of three phases. In the first stage, the focus was on understanding various issues related to agility in manufacturing systems. For this purpose, the literature available on agile manufacturing systems (AMS) was reviewed followed by a preliminary study of selected industries, which helped in identifying various factors which may be potentially responsible for making an organization agile. In the second stage, a need was felt to develop a hierarchical framework that captures various factors, which can be identified as enablers for enhancing the agility of an organization. This exercise was carried out with the help of a questionnaire developed, the framework, and Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), (Saaty.T.L1980).

In the third stage, a survey of Indian manufacturing industries was conducted to assess the extent to which, the factors identified responsible for realizing agility in an organization are present. The study carried out with the help of the cooperation obtained from twenty six major engineering companies categorized under five groups, as shown in Table 1. The results of the study clearly showed that these organizations are using different good management practices to enhance their agility, however they place varying emphasis on different factors identified as agility enablers. In the next stages, different models and methodologies such as: Objectivated Agility Realisation Model (OARM), Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA), Goal Programming (GP)….were identified suitable, and applied for further analyses. The results obtained with the help of AHP and OARM (Prem Vrat et al 1998) based studies provided logical bases for comparing the 26 organizations under consideration in the view point of what can be related to agility.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Agile Supply Chain: Is a highly responsive supply chain.

Agile Manufacturing: Is the ability of an enterprise to respond quickly and successfully to change.

Reconfigurable Manufacturing: Systems facilitate the demand for customized products.

Supply Chain: Flow of product from raw material to customer.

Lean Manufacturing: Value enriched manufacturing system.

Analytic Hierarchy Process: Is a structured technique for dealing with complex decisions.

Data Envelopment Analysis: Method for assessing the relative efficiency of decision-making units.

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