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Title: Starting the journey towards manufacturing excellence : MX Start : innovation report
Author: McDougall, Heather S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2739 7669
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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Manufacturing matters. It matters because of the economic contribution it provides in terms of wealth generation, employment and exports. The manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom can be strengthened. The opportunity for improvement includes closing the productivity gap between other countries, encouraging innovation and developing the skills of the workforce, in order to be globally competitive, drive growth and to help reduce the trade deficit. Critical to exploiting these opportunities, and to the success of the industry, is the adoption of best practice. Existing support for manufacturing improvement can be costly, difficult to access or dependent on input from external experts. This support therefore is not readily accessible to every manufacturing company. There are also a number of quality and performance awards available, however these are predominantly focused on recognising success rather than on how this success can be attained. This research fulfils the gap by providing widely accessible support for manufacturing companies that is focused on helping them to improve. The support provided helps companies to identify and adopt relevant best practices. This research work adapted a product evaluation framework to develop MX Start, a process that supports manufacturing companies to start their improvement journey towards manufacturing excellence. MX Start was developed following a review of the definition of Manufacturing Excellence, a needs assessment of the opportunity, analysis of best practice dissemination strategies, comparative analysis of existing tools and a review of effective self assessment and feedback principles. MX Start provides an easy to use, free of charge, web based system that facilitates manufacturing companies to start their excellence journey. It enables manufacturers to benchmark themselves against best practice in order to gain a greater understanding of what excellence entails, and to enable improvement areas to be identified. This is then supported with a report that helps companies to prioritise the improvement opportunities and provides feedback to then help them make these improvements. The combination of the free of charge, widely accessible, self-directed system that is solely concerned with supporting and encouraging companies to improve, is the basis of the innovation of this work. MX Start has demonstrated impact to the manufacturing industry through a pilot and on-going work with the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS). As part of the pilot, over two hundred companies used the process to conduct diagnostic activities to define areas for improvement, and identify where and how they could implement best practices. As a result, MAS in the West Midlands have adopted the tool and supported further developments of this research. This has increased the opportunity for MX Start to help companies progress on their excellence journey and therefore, help support the manufacturing industry to improve. An evaluation of MX Start by companies and manufacturing experts, found that the tool was easy to understand and use, and that it helped companies to identify, and be motivated, to make improvements. The web based system lends itself to further development. In addition to the assessment and report elements of MX Start, the website contains a resource library. The resources contain more information and guidance. The opportunity for the future is to expand this library and build a comprehensive database of support. This would increase the ability of MX Start to support manufacturers to exploit the improvement opportunities to strengthen the competitiveness of the manufacturing industry.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) ; Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Great Britain) (IMechE)
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Eng.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD28 Management. Industrial Management ; T Technology (General)