Traditionally, the strategic importance of flexibility in manufacturing is highlighted in academia and practices. To be flexible, it is necessary for a firm to figure out what the sources of flexibility are. However, there have been little studies on the sources of flexibility. This study focuses on the sources of new product flexibility. With some modifications of the Quality Function Deployment(QFD) methodology, we developed a model of Flexibility Function Deployment(FFD) which enables to identify the sources of the required flexibility. Using this model, we conduct a case study on the Korean PC industry.
The major findings or this study are summarized as follows. First, in PC industry, among the various types of flexibility, new product flexibility, especially, time-to-market capability is one of the most important ones. Second, communications between manufacturing and development department, and enhancing the manufacturing capability are critical not only for the quality of new product but also for the time-to-market performance. Third, supplier relation is one of the important sources for new product flexibility. Finally, machine/equipment flexibility and control/routing flexibility mostly affect the manufacturing capabilities for new product flexibility. And in turn, these are heavily influenced by the resources and operational capabilities a firm currently has.
We expect that our results are applicable to the other industries which have similar market and technical characteristics. Also, FFD is expected to be a basic methodology which guides a practitioner to clarify necessary capabilities for competitiveness.