Forms of Transformation Processes used by Companies and Their Relation to the Facility Layout
Selecting the most appropriate transformation process and facility layout is one of the keys towards achieving success in the company’s performance. In general, there are many forms of transformation processes, and each has particular facility layout. What is more, there are also hybrid combinations of them so the organization can choose the one that best fits its needs and potential.
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Speaking of the basic forms of transformation systems, there are five of them including job shop, continuous process, cellular production, flow shop, and project (Meredith & Shafer, 2013). Job shops are industries that offer a wide range of products and services. They can achieve diversity in possible outputs using departments functionally specializing in one or other good. The specialty of this transformation system is that the departments comprise of identical equipment or involve people with nearly the same set of skills, and the process is carried out on a non-stop basis. It also has a peculiar layout that is based on a historically stable output so that it is rarely changed.
The second type of transformation system is continuous process. Such industries use a set of materials and equipment and a sequence of processes to produce a final output. Facility layout of this transformation system is usually a set of needed equipment such as assembly lines, tanks, pipes, etc., and low-skilled employees whose primary responsibility is monitoring a continuous working flow of the machines.
Next type of transformation process is cellular production, and its difference from the job shop is that it produces families of outputs. That means that, unlike job shop, they focus on making up groups of products requiring similar skills for their manufacturing and do not concentrate on one unique good. Its facility layout is somewhat similar to that of the continuous process with the difference that employees are trained to control the process of manufacturing of different groups of goods, and the scales of production are larger.
Flow shops are the systems making up standardized goods by automated mass production and assembly lines. Facility layout is the combination of automated and human work. That means that conveyors are used whenever possible, but people in most cases put the details on it and monitor the whole process of assembling.
Finally, projects are transformation processes focusing on reaching a unique output. That means that the organization exploits skills and equipment necessary for carrying out a specific project, and changes them once there is the new one, so the system is not fixed in the outcome. What is more, layout changes every time another task is defined, so there is no single layout except for the high level of coordination between the people working on the project.
Relationship of the Facility Layout to the Transformation Process in Supporting Operations and Organizational Strategy
Choosing a particular organizational strategy that will lead to achieving the desired level of outputs is one of the most important steps in selecting transformation system. Facility layout plays one of the most significant roles in this process as the appropriate choice will help maximize the productivity and effectiveness of the operations and minimize the costs of the manufacturing process as well as reduce various risks that may emerge during production such as health or safety hazards and achieve other goals as facilitating system of staff interactions and guaranteeing that product or service is exhibited to the customer.
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It should be said that in choosing the layout of operations and organizational strategy, customer instead of processes should be the point of attention. That means that if the organization wants to be successful, the emphasis should be made on the customer’s needs and desire so that it is possible to produce a good or provide a service that he is willing to buy. What is more, senior management should constantly monitor and redesign transformation system and facility layout so they meet the requirements of the market and regulations and the changes in demand, as well as new trends in products and services (Meredith & Shafer, 2013).
Transformation Process Tools Used by General Motors Corporation
General Motors (GM) specializes in manufacturing automobiles. The process of production is for the most part automated with the heavy use of assembly lines. So, the most evident of changing transformation process with the aim of increasing efficiency and effectiveness and reduce the costs and risks is to modernize the assembly lines. The company already implemented these modifications in 2013 when General Motors upgraded its factory in Tonawanda, New York.
The key modernization consisted in replacing old bolts located inside the production lines that assemble engines with the so-called smart bolts, new technology that collects data about every single manufacturing process that am engine undergoes. The primary goal of this “track-and-trace” (Paula, 2013, par. 1) system is to prevent the probability and minimize the consequences of making mistakes during the process of production whether it be taking wrong parts, problems with the work of machines or human factor.
The way these smart bolts work is extremely simple – they are attached to heads of the cylinders of the production lines where they monitor the process of assembling engines and transmit all the collected data about the operations to the factory’s master server where highly professional workers decode them to make sure that there are no problems with the work of the automated machines. Because they are located at different points all across the conveyor, it became possible to control the whole manufacturing process and make sure that it is carried out to perfection on every single stage of assembling an engine.
Using this technology not only increases the level of productivity and the quality of work but also minimizes the risk of providing the customers with the engines that were not assembled correctly (Swedberg, 2014). Even is there is a batch of bad automobile parts the company can easily trace it by the information provided by the bolts and retract it to fix the problem accurate up to every engine. General Motors plans to modernize the rest of its factories using this technology within next four to five years.
Influence of Product and Process Life Cycles on the General Motors Transformational Process: Past and Future Scenarios
Product and process life cycles also have a significant impact on choosing a form of transformation system with its facility layout. That means that as the needs for particular products or services change, e.g. customers want more goods or services of better quality than before, transformation system should be altered so that it meets the new requirements (Meredith & Shafer, 2013).
General Motors has always been a symbol of American culture and a representation of the high level of competitiveness of the United States. However, as many automobile conglomerates started the transition towards the principles of lean production, GM was also forced to redesign its transformational system and manufacturing strategy so that the company could reclaim its competitive position (Briody, Trotter, & Meerwarth, 2010).
Because transformational processes should change in response to shifts in the environment and demand of the customers, General Motors had to alter its system in reaction to the rise of Toyota. It took very long for the American company to develop the new manufacturing process because of the differences in mentality and cultural background of Americans and Japanese. Nevertheless, GM managed to implement a new facility layout. For example, the company signed relational contracts with the suppliers of the raw material that improved the relationships between the both and thus quality of the final product because GM received better input materials (Helper & Henderson, 2014). What is more, it practiced lean management principles to increase the level of employees’ productivity and worked at modernizing factories.
Together with that, there is still work to do. For example, because General Motors is a company depending on chemicals, it will have to respond to new requirements of the market initiated by the green movement. Here, GM will also have to implement innovations using Thin Film Pretreatment System instead of zinc phosphate to prepare automobiles for paint. It will not only reduce the costs, energy, and water usage but also make the manufacturing process more environment-friendly (Bradburn & Randall, n.d.). What is more, the company might want to apply paint without baking in an oven after every layer that will decrease the usage of natural gas.
Bradburn, J., & Randall, D. (n.d.). How to enable green projects and make them a part of the culture. Web.
Briody, E. K., Trotter, R. T., & Meerwarth, T. L. (2010). Transforming culture: Creating and sustaining a better manufacturing organization. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Helper, S., & Henderson, R. (2014). Management practices, relational contracts and the decline of General Motors. Web.
Meredith, J. R., & Shafer, S. M. (2013). Operations management for MBAs (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Paula, M. (2013). This bolt is the key to GM’s high-tech assembly line. Web.
Swedberg, C. (2014). General Motors factory installs smart bolts in engine blocks, cylinder heads. Web.
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