1. What are the key elements of Toshiba’s business strategy in notebook computers? In what way do OME’s operations support this strategy? Toshiba had built its strength in the notebook PC market by beating its competitors to the market with aggressively priced, technologically superior products. Competition in the notebook PC market was fierce, and Toshiba could retain its position as market leader only by relentlessly improving its manufacturing processes and lowering costs. Toshiba had some formidable advantages over its competitors, stemming largely from huge investments in such technologies as thin-film transistor (TFT) color displays, hard disk drives, lithium-ion batteries, and CD-ROM drives. In addition, by forming partnerships and joint ventures with other industry giants, Toshiba could share the risk of developing expensive new technologies.
With its highly automated factories and sophisticated communication networks, Toshiba brought formidable manufacturing expertise to these alliance. A sophisticated computer network linked OME with other domestic and overseas Toshiba development and production sites. This communication link allowed the different Toshiba factories to communicate best practices and coordinate their production. The OME complex also included large research and development and design laboratories. The proximity of the laboratories to manufacturing allowed the engineers to work closely with the manufacturing division throughout the design and development of a new model. Also, workers were continuously being cross-trained to increase the breadth and depth of their skills.
2. What is Toshiba doing to achieve high performance on cost, quality and flexibility? Toshiba make it a priority to train their workers to be flexible and productive. They have one of the best assembly line processes in the world. They have very highly skilled workers called pack-men who could perform all operations on all model types were available to replace absent workers. The quality of work is checked at every stage in the process. Each worker is responsible for checking the work of the previous operator. Each worker on the line is also responsible for selecting and counting screws needed for assembly operations one or two workers further down the line. Four workers are directly responsible for the quality of each notebook computer assembled. Workers are encouraged to improve all processes. Each worker kept a small notebook under the conveyor to jot down ideas for process improvement. Toshiba high performance is also contributed by highly automated factories and sophisticated communication networks.
3. Process Capacity:
The maximum number of computers that can be produced in a 7.5 hour shift: Total time is 27000 sec, 27000/114=236.8, 236 unit Direct Labor Content per notebook computer (i.e., the amount of time a worker actually works on a computer while it is on the assembly line): =843+105+(31+71)+208/3=1119.3 sec
Direct Labor Idle Time per notebook computer assembled (i.e., the amount of time workers are idle per computer assembled): Idle time per computer = 1368-1119.3=248.7 sec.
Inventory on the assembly line:
Inventory on the assembly line= 12
Flow Time for a notebook computer:
Bottleneck process: station 2 operation time=114sec
So, the cycle time is 114*(9+3) =1368 sec.
So, the flow time for a notebook computer is 1368 sec.