1. Evaluate the changes Dore-Dore has made in its children's knitwear division. How does the performance of the traditional operations and the cellular manufacturing system differ? For example, how does work-in-process inventory change when cells are implemented?
Traditional Operations: Under traditional operations, Doré-Doré’s production batch size in sewing, on average, was 200 pieces of the same style and color, with an average of eight different sizes within a batch. The knitwear sewing contained 55 sewing machines installed and was staffed by 42 workers (Exhibit 7). The additional machines were either specialty machines used for occasional operations or extra machines used in periods ...view middle of the document...
Batches of partially-completed product were moved in wheeled bins by floor supervisors or material handlers to the next required operation.
Crisis Management: If a machine in a cell broke down, it would have to be quickly repaired or replaced; if possible, during the repair period, the worker would move to another machine within the cell to continue working. Encouraged to act autonomously with regard to work methods, the workers rearranged the cell in a new one evening after management and other workers had gone home.
Cross-Training: At first, the team tried to assign work using traditional methods, with each worker specializing by task. This system made the sweatshirts well but was difficult to adapt to the next style assigned to the cell.
Operation Layout: The cellular manufacturing system changed the entire layout of the operation as the placement of machines, workers, and batch flow had originally been designed by ITF in a horseshoe shape. The cell workers soon found this cumbersome for two reasons: first, the horseshoe worked best if the production flow was unidirectional, whereas in the Doré-Doré cell, items were frequently passed back to a previous machine for additional operations or rework; and second, the workers wanted to be able to face each other to facilitate communication.
Conflict Resolution: Another traditional supervisory role was the resolution of relationship problems between workers. In view of the autonomous nature of the teams, workers were provided training in solving these types of problems. Conflicts were to be addressed first within the cell. For the first experimental cell, ITF unwittingly chose two workers who were ardent enemies. DD decided to go ahead with the chosen six members, but soon discovered that the two had difficulty working together. On its own, the team decided to address the problem.
3. What is Dore-Dore's motivation for converting to cells? Should the company continue with its plans for complete implementation of cells in children's knitwear? If not, which knitwear products (if any) should be manufactured in cells?
Autonomy of Workers: A key principle underlying the cell concept was that the groups were autonomous, managing their own time, distribution of work, and work-flow. In contrast, in a traditional batch production system such as that currently used by DD, each worker repeatedly performed a single, specific task on each garment in a large batch of identical items, thereby developing an expertise and a rhythm that fostered high levels of speed, productivity, and product uniformity (see Exhibit 18).
Loyalty of Workers: Teams remained together unless someone left the factory. When a worker was absent, the rate of output dropped. If the absence was...