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28 The PCB Magazine • August 2017 by Steve Williams THE RIGHT APPROACH CONSULTING Introduction Lean, theory of constraints (ToC), quick re- sponse manufacturing (QRM), cross-training, and staticstical process control (SPC) are pow- erful, tried and true methodologies for process improvement. However, these tools are rooted in high-volume manufacturing environments and don't always play nice in a high-mix, low- volume (HMLV) operation. The new W.O.R.C. manufacturing strategy was specifically devel- oped to overcome these shortcomings while capitalizing on their strengths. Limitations of the Current Toolset Lean is a collection of tools and methods de- signed to eliminate waste, reduce delays, im- prove performance and reduce costs. Lean fo- cuses on eliminating non-valued added activ- ities, as opposed to more traditional improve- ment efforts, which focus on reducing the time in value-added steps. The problem with lean is that many of the tools work best in a high- volume process that has very little variation in product mix. ToC is a methodology that focuses on re- moving bottlenecks from a process through a series of five steps: Identify the constraint, Ex- ploit (improve) the constraint, Subordinate (align all activities), Elevate (additional actions) and Repeat. The problem with ToC is that, by definition, eliminating one bottleneck creates another, and in a high-mix process the bottle- necks can change with the mix. Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) is a cell- based strategy closely related to focus factories that was developed specifically for HMLV that has been gaining popularity over the past few years. The problem with QRM is that it works best when equipment sets from several sequen- tial departments can be physically organized into small cells. This becomes problematic in operations that have processes requiring capi- tal-intensive environments like plating, clean room imaging, etc., where setting up a single machine in a cell is prohibitive. Cross-training is critical to manufacturing continuity to overcome employee absences, FEATURE

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