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Production and Operations Management is a part of management in a business that is concerned about the use of input resources, their processing and production of goods and services that are fit for customers (Flynn et al, 1995). This part deals with how the business is running its operations in order for it to meet the customers’ needs. A production system or process however are the activities that are involved in receiving raw materials and processing them in the exact manner that is defined by the management and customer’s desires (Westbrook, 1995). These activities are usually organized and are aligned with the customers’ needs and the business’s objectives and goals (Mentzer et al, 2008).
In this essay, I am going to discuss the operational issues that are facing the Hawkesbury Cabinets limited (as stated in the case study). Operational issues are the problems that are involved in the production process, marketing, distribution of products, running of the business and managing the business (Kleindorfer et al, 2005). This essay is going to identify these issues and give a solution to some of them.
Hawkesbury Cabinets uses different production processes as stated in the case study. It is the business’s tradition to focus on custom-made cabinets for their customers. They only made the cabinets after receiving an order from their customers with the exact specifics and facts of what the customer wanted in their cabinet. This therefore means that the business used the made to order production process. This where the product is made only after the customer has given his requirements. This method is good because the producer does not know what the customer desires and does not take chances of guesswork and so relies fully on the customer’s wants and needs.
Because of this process, the business began to make good profits, sales increased and it started to become popular in the region. This therefore led to the business being assigned a contract to produce high quality and standardized cabinets for small spec builders. However, the contract required Hawkesbury to make the cabinets in small batches which were designed for one to five kitchen cabinet specifications. This shows that Hawkesbury Cabinets used the batch production process in its operations.
This is where by an activity passes through a functional department in form of batches or lots but with each activity having its own different routing (Vidal et al, 1997). In this process, the business may make a batch of a product and then set up the equipment again to be able to make another product of the same characteristics (Kouvelis et al, 2006). This production process has got its advantages and disadvantages.
However, the cabinets that were made through this process started becoming important to Hawkesbury Cabinet. They were accounting for 40% of the business’s factory volume and 20% of the sales revenue. This was therefore a big step production improvement for the business.
According to the case study, Hawkesbury uses a single manufacturing facility where both the custom and standardized cabinets are made. The custom making equipment is designed to produce a variety of cabinet designs which means that it is highly flexible. The business has grouped the machines, equipment and tools according to their use in different sections of the facility. E.g. the saws and cutting tables in one section and routers and shapers in a different section, painting and finishing is done in a different section to name just but a few sections.
This therefore shows that Hawkesbury also uses the mass production process in addition to the two mentioned above. This is where a business focuses on production of large quantities and varieties of goods at a low cost per unit but in the same building and using the same equipment and machines (Thomas et al, 1996). It involves standardization of both the product and process sequence, dedicated special equipment and machines that have high production capacities and output rates, large volumes of products with short time cycle, easy production and planning process as well as automatic material handling. Nevertheless, this process has its limitations and advantages (Slack et al, 2005)
The use of this process has brought a positive impact to the business. The cabinets that are displayed by the business after completion are therefore able to reflect the craftsmanship of the individual makers as well as the good quality of the raw materials used. However, there was a negative impact in the fact that the standardized and the custom-made cabinets competed for attention from the craftsmen during production.
From the information given, Hawkesbury Cabinets increased its sales of the ‘builders’ cabinets which was caused by the increased line of ‘builder’s kitchens’ which led to the management doing more work scheduling to keep up the business’s production rate. However, the custom-made cabinets were given priority because they always gave higher sales and profit margins. This therefore meant that the standardized cabinets were to be set aside without total completion instead were left as work in progress.
It is evident that Hawkesbury Cabinets was therefore using job shop production process where most of the products are usually not complete but left as WIP which are contained in different stages of production. This process involves high variety of product but with low volumes, highly skilled employees are required, large material, inputs and tools inventories, good planning is required and use of general purpose machines and equipment (Soteriou, 1999).
This process brought about increased growth of the business in general, custom kitchen cabinets sale remained strong and that of the builders’ increased rapidly. Nevertheless, this process caused more negative impacts, like: decrease in profit margins, high costs related to builders’ cabinets, increased capital being tied up in raw materials inventory, WIP and finished product, lack of enough space for work and for expansion among other problems that were caused. This led to the business’s decision to hire or rent the nearby warehouse space so that it can accommodate the business operations and products.
In conclusion, I can say that Hawkesbury Cabinets uses some of the best production processes that are effective for such a business. However, in relation to job shop product production process, it has some work to do because it has led to the most number of negative impacts in its operations (Voss et al, 2002). Otherwise, the business will do well without the job shop production process.
Flynn, Barbara B., Roger G. Schroeder, and Sadao Sakakibara. "The impact of quality management practices on performance and competitive advantage." Decision sciences 26, no. 5 (1995): 659-691.
Kleindorfer, P.R., Singhal, K. and Wassenhove, L.N., 2005. Sustainable operations management. Production and operations management, 14(4), pp.482-492.
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Mentzer, J.T., Stank, T.P. and Esper, T.L., 2008. Supply chain management and its relationship to logistics, marketing, production, and operations management. Journal of Business Logistics, 29(1), pp.31-46.
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Westbrook, R., 1995. Action research: a new paradigm for research in production and operations management. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 15(12), pp.6-20.
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