Thursday, December 18, 2008

Operations Management and the "Big Three"

Operations Management is a specialized area of management that converts or transforms resources into goods and services. Operations management has hit the mainstream news with the struggling “Big Three” automakers. Everyone has become an Operations Management Specialist on the 24 hour news stations. The question is always what can the “Big Three” start doing to become profitable again. The American automakers are compared constantly to their counterparts around the world. Some of techniques used by their overseas counterparts may offer a light at the end of the tunnel. Flexible Manufacturing could help many of the GM, Ford, and Chrysler plants. Currently many plants specialize in one or two models. If the plants were flexible enough to make multiple models at the same plant this would allow for long term flexibility of inventory. This would allow the automakers’ plants the ability of lean manufacturing which would increase productivity. Mass Customization would also benefit the “Big Three”. Customers would be able to order a car built with certain specification for the same price as a car on the lot which may not be what the customer originally wanted. Currently Mini Coopers and VW offer the convenience of ordering a car built to specification. This would allow for less excess inventory and higher customer satisfaction. On a personal note, I have always purchased American Cars (Yes, I know the parts were built all over). I have supported the Detroit automakers when I bought my Chrysler Town & Country Mini Van two years ago and my husband’s Ford F150 three years ago. I believe that my next automobile will also be from an American automaker. My hopes are that after all of this I can walk into the dealer and say,
“Hey Mr. Ford Dealer since you started your Mass Customization I would like to trade in my mommy van for a Black Mustang Convertible with these specifications. Thanks, I will be back in ten business days to pick it up.”
The Automakers have their dreams of bailouts I can have mine too. I just think they might get theirs a little quicker.

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