Agile manufacturing is a strategy that reduces the lead time for response in a manufacturing line.
Implementing an agile manufacturing strategy requires businesses to begin by assessing the gap between current processes and the intended agile environment. Once completed,the assessment is used to define priorities for actions that will transform the current process. The key attributes of agile manufacturing are shorter response times and lesser inventory. Achieving this requires changes that are both internal and external to a manufacturing organization.
The first step of the internal change involves selecting a responsible committee or team that has the buy-in from management as well as the necessary authority to drive transformation. This committee will choose tools, engineer processes, and train employees to institutionalize agile manufacturing. Identification of fail-safes and back-ups are critical to deal with risks and uncertainties associated with shorter response times.
The external changes involve external stakeholders. Suppliers are a critical component of an agile transformation. Hence involving suppliers and establishing collective success parameters is a vital component of implementation of agile. Order lots need to decrease in size, allowing for quicker turn-around times. Hence bringing customers on board is also a critical requirement.
Once internal and external changes are implemented, companies execute agile transformation with complete visibility to all stakeholders through the power of tools and systems. This also enables small incremental changes that result in measurable improvements in the lines of continuous improvement.