In light of the widespread adoption of advanced production concepts over the last decade, the traditional concern of manufacturing strategy–linking manufacturing structure and infrastructure to business strategy–has seemed less powerful in explaining competitive success or improving competitive performance. Companies that have introduced just‐in‐time, total quality management, continuous improvement, design for manufacturability, or concurrent engineering appear to have reaped the benefits of quality, dependability, flexibility, high variety, and low cost. This raises an important question: is manufacturing strategy in its traditional vintage passe? In this paper, I first explore the logic behind the traditional prescriptions in manufacturing strategy using a classic case on Searle's Medical Instruments Group. Then, using the term advanced manufacturing system (AMS) as shorthand for best practice in production, design and engineering, and logistics, I revisit the Searle case as taught in 1995 to illustrate the logic of the AMS. Finally, I offer a framework for synthesis, arguing that manufacturing's true competitive power lies in integrating the capabilities of an AMS with strategic management of manufacturing.
Production and Operations Management – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 1996