Industrial Management: Case of Plymouth Plant

Industrial Management: Case of Plymouth Plant


Industrial management is hardly an easy task. Any company is bound to go through periods of good and poor performance. Poor performance could be caused by a number of factors, which may be controllable or could be beyond the capacity of the organization. The case of Plymouth Plant is a bit complex given that the plant had been performing well. Besides, the plant belongs to a medium sized company, which has had good reputation and a team of skilled employees. Other than performing poorly, Plymouth Plant is losing a lot of money, which could be utilized in other company activities. Poor performance in this plant could as well affect the general performance of the entire company. These perceived impacts leave the company with an option of closing down the Plymouth Plant in order to save the company’s money and its market position. The only option is to structure some mechanisms that could improve the plant performance by focusing on process and product improvement as far as quality is concerned. This paper analyzes the problems facing the Plymouth Plant and the strategies suitable to revive it back to its normal position. The paper mainly focuses on the Six Sigma management model/strategy.

A Literature Perspective

Improving quality of products is meant to boost customer satisfaction and company sales. In trying to improve the quality of their processes, companies identify the main problem first and identify a set of strategies from which to operate. Companies apply a variety of approaches through statistical thinking to improve on quality. Such processes are collectively termed as process improvement strategies (Casselbrant and Wiklund, pg.29). In the attempt to boost the quality of both process and product quality, companies use the Six Sigma model as a perfect way of saving such companies from industrial and market competitions, and reviving the companies’ industrial and market positions. The Six Sigma makes use of DMAIC steps to improve on predetermined quality (Casselbrant and Wiklund, pg.33). DMAIC is elaborated as Define, measure, analyze, improve, and control. While firms could apply other strategies as a way of improving quality, the Six Sigma is considered among the most effective ways of boosting quality process and product within an organization.

The Problem Background

Plymouth Plant was one a good plant with good operational grounds. It may not be clear on what contributed to its downfall to a point of operating below its breakeven point. The company plant has faced a number of problems ranging from its management processes to its market operations. The plant activities include the manufacturing of chemical pumps used in a wide range of fluids as well as various industrial effluents. The market demand is however stable and is projected to grow in future in terms of more complex as well as more expensive products. The trend of products becoming more complex and expensive with time has existed for long implying that only concentration on quality would revive this great company (Casselbrant and Wiklund, pg.45).

Given that the market demand is stable, it means that the management, production, and marketing processes or efforts are hardly efficient. Some of the common problems could be a case whereby customer demands are not always met and in timely manner. This problem is caused by miscalculations within the plant’s capacity planning phase. Simple problems that cause the miscalculations could be known to the plant employees but they end up hesitating to raise the problems. Even the existing plant manage could hesitate to solve the problem due to the perception that such problems could take a lot of time to solve. Again, the key problem affecting the plant is poor quality products. Due to poor quality products, customers end up returning their purchased products for rework or even repair. This process adds to the cost of operating the plant since or reworking and repair costs are provided by the plant. Another major problem is the poor management of suppliers. There is hardly timely delivery of suppliers, which makes it difficult for the company to meet the prevailing demand (Gitlow). Customers end up being frustrated due to poor quality products and untimely delivery of their requests.

Most of the other problems are mechanical. The company plant still operates under the old manufacturing processes and machinery. This has been causing mechanical problems such as frequent breakdown of machinery and equipment making the production processes difficult. The end result is delayed customer requests and poor product quality, which further add to the customer frustration factors. Besides, the machines entail the old models and technology making even harder to obtain spare parts readily. Application of the Six Sigma model would boost the morale of the workers, improve the quality of the processes and end products, and revive the company plant to a very competitive position (Gitlow).

Application of the Six Sigma to Solve Plymouth Plant Problems

Given the many quality and operational problems facing Plymouth Plant, the Six Sigma model would be perfect in address possible mechanisms to put the plant into a very competitive position. The Six Sigma model starts by defining the problem, measuring the extent of the problem, analyzing the problem, checking on possible improvements, and then pushing for the necessary control strategies. The Six Sigma would regard the plant’s work as a system of processes that are interconnected. Its application would look for possible variations within all the processes. It would also regard understanding and consider variation reduction as the key aspects to success. The application of Six Sigma would be effective given that it is one of the most ambitious improvement programs in working standards and in work quality (Casselbrant and Wiklund, pg.36).

To improve the quality of process and products of the Plymouth company plant, it would be good to focus on five major areas. These areas would act as the basis for the plant improvements. First, it is important to understand and reduce the plant’s variations. After reducing the variations, improvements would be made based on the needs and expectations of the customers. This second area has been contributing to immense problems especially given that the needs and expectations of customers are hardly met. This aspect is evidenced by the frustrations seen in customers due to untimely delivery of products and constant sale of low quality products especially the fluid pumps, which end up being returned for repair. Customers could sometimes request for refund adding more to the financial constraints faced by the plant. It would thus be great to focus on customer needs and expectations (Gitlow).

After identifying the needs and expectations of the customer, it would then be great to understand the underlying processes used to produce the various plant products. Understanding the underlying process would make it possible to structure good and effective ways of changing the shape of the plant. The understanding would give room for solving chronic problems such as avoiding situation of long term repeat orders placed by customers. Mechanical problems that delay processes and contribute to poor product quality would also be solved. This would be done by incorporating new technologies in the production process such as CAD systems. Introduction of a CAD system would assist in creating, modifying, analyzing, and optimizing the product designs (Narayan, pg.57). The use of the latest software update would aid in refining the designs, improving the design quality, and more importantly assist in improving communication especially through documentation. It would also be wise to create an up-to-date manufacturing database.

After solving the management and processing faults, the management would then focus on how to achieve measurable results. Measurable results would show the achievement of the strategies implemented to place the plant back to a better competitive position. The company plant would strive to ensure that customers are satisfied. Customer satisfaction would only be realized after quality of the products is ensured and customer needs and expectations are worked out as soon as possible (Casselbrant and Wiklund, pg.77). This would be achieved if the company plant gains more power over suppliers such that it can ensure push for cheaper and timely supplies.


Plymouth has all the potentials to get back on its original position or even to a better competitive position than ever before. The plant performance is linked to many problems, which could easily be avoided with great commitments on the set strategies. The Six Sigma model could work adequately to revive the company plant by working to better the financial, industrial, and market position. The Six Sigma implies a measure of quality, which could strive near perfection of the plant. The strategy is mainly disciplined, data-driven, and uses methodology approach that would definitely eliminate all operational and managerial defects in the Plymouth Plant. The basic approaches would be based on defining, measuring, analyzing, improving, and taking full control of the existing problem.

Works Cited

Casselbrant, Rebecka and Erik Wiklund. Six Sigma Project Management: Managing Fast Track Projects at Plan & Secure Capacity, IKEA. Lund, 2011. Print.

Gitlow, Howard. New to Six Signma: An Introduction to Six Sigma Management. 2013 . Web. 08 Nov 2013 .

Narayan, K. Lalit. Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing. New Delhi: Prentice Hall of India, 2008. Print.





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