Manufacturing-related efforts span the entire life cycle of a product.
Strategic manufacturing planning emphasizes the determination, planning, and
implementation of activities that can transform manufacturing into a
The purpose of manufacturing is to serve the company - to meet its needs
for survival, profit, and growth. Manufacturing is part of the strategic
concept that relates a company's strengths and resources to opportunities in
the market. (Skinner, Wickham. "Manufacturing - Missing Link in Corporate
Strategy," Harvard Business Review, May/June 1969, p. 140.)
Manufacturing as a strategic necessity is not a new topic. Also, continuous
improvement is not a new topic. As far back as the 1920s, people like Walter
Shewhart of AT&T Bell Laboratories, advocated understanding and
controlling processes in order to detect problems early and turn them into
opportunities for improvement instead of costly mistakes.
Strategic manufacturing planning makes good business sense. As the AT&T
case emphasized, management support, education, and up-front involvement of
everyone are essential to success. For too long, the reaction to implementing
continuous quality improvement programs was similar to this:
"When we were told that a new program was being done for our mutual
benefit, we had the same reaction I did when my mother told a younger-me to
eat my Brussels sprouts."
- Huber, Robert F. "Quality: Survival, Not a Snow Job," Production,
February 1991, vol. 103(2), p. 9.
This attitude must change if a company expects to survive in a competitive
marketplace. Manufacturing must be well understood and integrated into the
entire set of corporate goals and activities.
This reference guide has attempted to illustrate the process of strategic
manufacturing planning, and to alert the reader to risks inherent in the
process and emphasize the keys to success. The process itself spans a complex
undertaking that requires understanding, foresight, teamwork, and commitment.
The Application section highlights case studies that reflect how some firms
have chosen to implement many of the points presented in the Procedures. The
table below summarizes the steps of the process, as described in the