Implementation of Manufacturing Process Standardization


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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  • Kwok Ming YEUNG


Awarding Institution
Award date22 Aug 2013


The expansion of firms for their international operations capitalizes on economies associated with standardization. Manufacturing requirements, industry agreements, national or international policies as well as the need to operate according to standards are essential to organizations in various industries. British Standard Institution (BSI) pointed out the important to realize the strategic use of standards to achieve measurement improvement in their competitiveness on growth, market access, innovation, customer confidence and brand building. Therefore, the implementation of standardization is important for company development and growth.

To enhance competitiveness and maintain leadership, the implementation of industrial standardization is necessary for multinational enterprises because it can reduce maintenance cost and inventory of spare parts. Moreover, industrial standardization can facilitate the training of technicians and cross-plant sharing and support. Several multinational enterprises implement process standardization as a business tool to improve their global brand image (e.g. McDonald’s/IKEA). Without standardized work, improvement activities are not manageable because the documents of standardized work are the tools that assist people in obtaining the perfect process which is on demand, defect-free and cost-effective. Process standardization positively affects business value by enhancing process performance and market success, and is an indicator such as process time, cost and quality. Standardizing successful processes was identified by Toyota as the final step in its problem solving tool for establishing effective repeatable and predictable processes. This is also an important assessing factor for Deming prize for recognizing performance improvement on successful implementation for Multi-national Corporations (MNCs).

Although standardization is a vital and broad field, however there are only a limited number of references discussing the basic principles and practices as well as share guidance and practical experiences on the application and results of standardization in organizations. Consequently, this paper creates a standardization model to support the implementation. This study identifies the critical factors as 1) top management and functional support, 2) standardization team/leader, 3) cross-plant information monitoring/sharing system and 4) regular review on the standardization implementation for market requirement, technical planning, supply network and core activities. The interaction between the critical factors is illustrated in the standardization model. Each element in this model has been addressed in the case studies during the implementation of standardization. As standardization is a long-term initiative, it needs an effective review to obtain a continuous improvement to meet the current external environment.

After reviewing previous standardization implementation roadmaps and considering the structure of multinational enterprises, this paper designed a standardization framework that could implement standardization across different operations of plants. Six Sigma is a world-renowned methodology for process improvement and variety reduction. Hence, the company follows the Six Sigma implementation stages, which are Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve/Implement, and Control (DMAIC). The developed standard will be reviewed and revised regularly to achieve continuous improvement. The model that was created in this study is an important tool for organizations/enterprises that consider standardization as their strategic direction. The three-level five-stage Six Sigma standardization roadmap could provide a detailed approach for companies in their initiatives towards standardization. This systematic roadmap also provide an ideal example in completing the “empty area” for the implementation of company-level process standardization, At the end of the study, the findings, potential limitations and the implications for research and practice are discussed.

N-MNC is an international leading global plastics manufacturer. In this project, the case studies conducted in N-MNC are used to prove the expected outcomes and benefits of process standardization. Three case studies identified by the top management of N-MNC are analyzed according to the developed standardization implementation roadmap and the standardization model. The results and the lessons learned for each case are highlighted and discussed. Finally, standardization policies/procedures and a cross-plant Standard Technical Committee (Standardization Team) were established for N-MNC to implement standardization activities in the future. Through the standardization implementation, N-MNC obtained the following benefits --- Improving the overall painting yield performance and also plant variation in quality performance, reducing hardware variation, establishing connection with strategic hardware vendors, developing cross-plant sharing mechanism for knowledge and hardware and establishing a good company image for customer.

The innovation of this Engineering Doctorate project aims at creation of one manufacturing process standardization framework that exploring/analyzing knowledge application and sharing in a Six Sigma systematic approach with the result of improving the global competitiveness of MNCs by ease of best practice transfer and application of standardized work concept for variety reduction. Through the execution of the framework, the strategic alignment between different functions, different subsidiaries and top management is also improved. As long as the research nature of the project is of industrial base, the framework delivered shall contribute to the manufacturing industry by means of providing solution to similar various hardware/processes problems encountered by the other MNCs in the global business market.

    Research areas

  • Process Standardization, Multinational Enterprises, Six Sigma, Industrial Standard