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World Class Manufacturing is a different set of concepts, principles, policies and techniques for managing and operating a manufacturing company. It is driven by the results achieved by the Japanese manufacturing resurgence following World War II, and adapts many of the ideas used by the Japanese in automotive, electronics and steel companies to gain a competitive edge. It primarily focuses on continual improvement in quality, cost, lead time, flexibility and customer service.

World Class Manufacturing is a process-driven approach where implementations usually involve the following philosophies and techniques:

  • Make-to-order
  • Streamlined flow
  • Small lot sizes
  • Families of parts
  • Doing it right the first time
  • Cellular manufacturing
  • Total preventive maintenance
  • Quick changeover
  • Zero Defects
  • Just-in-time
  • Variability reduction
  • High employee involvement
  • Cross functional teams
  • Multi-skilled employees
  • Visual signaling
  • Statistical process control

Companies engaging in World Class Manufacturing strategies focus on improving operations, strive to eliminate waste and create lean organizations. This often results in higher productivity. But these companies also focus on speed of total throughput from order capture through delivery setting new standards for delivery without the heavy dependence on inventory. Sequential methods of performing work are being replaced with concurrent methods to compress time, and functional and hierarchical divisions of duties are being replaced by team-driven activities.

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