Restructuring the Manufacturing Process: Applying the Matrix Method

Gideon Halevi, St. Lucie Press, 2000 Corporate Blvd. NW, Boca Raton, FL 33431, 1999, 313 pp., $39.95. (book)

This book provides a detailed review of a relatively new management tool that can help improve manufacturing operations. The book is well-written and provides numerous examples of practical ways to apply the matrix method to industrial manufacturing. The process encourages people to make decisions at the appropriate time based on the utilization of technology and incorporates engineering into the production management stage.

The concepts presented in the book offer a way to restore flexibility to the manufacturing process by having all functions sup- plement each other in order to work as a unit. The two main tools that support this method of production are the matrix system and master product design. The author devotes an entire chapter to each of these concepts. The author also presents several case studies showing how to integrate the concepts into actual production systems. The case studies cover a variety of industries and illustrate the benefits the industries received by implementing the matrix method.

The book is valuable for strategic planning purposes and as a tool to assist production managers in the development of a system that maximizes the capabilities of the entire organization. The text is technically accurate and contains many pertinent illustrations.

James F. Jaquess
Southern Energy

Contents Under Pressure:
10 Team Based Principles for Coping in an Ever Changing World

Carla Reed, Tompkins Press, 2809 Millbrook Rd., Raleigh, NC 27604, 1999, 49 pp., $4.95. (book)

This book covers 10 principles teams need in order to be successful. The principles are divided into three categories: celebrating community, designing diversity and pursuing possibility. The principles are general and well-suited to the development and operation of teams.

While the principles are directly applicable to teams and team building, the discussions are a bit vague. They lead the reader in the proposed direction but do not specifically identify the end point. The final statement of principle is similarly less than direct. Moreover, there aren't any suggestions regarding how to implement the principles.

The book is a good thought initiator for people who are just beginning to work with teams, want to explore the philosophical aspect of teams or want to reflect on where past teams went wrong. It is useful to team organizers and company executives. Readers may want to provide copies of the book for potential team members. However, I would not hand out copies to people without first considering their attitudes toward teams. The material will definitely be more appreciated by those in favor of teamwork.

The book is easy to read and forces the reader to reflect on teams, teamwork and the underlying principles required for teams to be successful. It does not provide any definitive solutions. Because the book was published by the author's company, I think it fulfills its niche as a teaching tool but will probably get better results if readers invest in the type of training it supports.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Interox

Results: How To Assess Total Project Control: a Manager's Guide to Integrated Project Planning, Measuring and Tracking

Stephen A. Devaux, John Wiley & Sons, 605 Third Ave., New York, NY 10158, 1999, 297 pp., $58.95. (book)

At last--a guidebook for the serious project manager whose career depends on completing complex, profitable projects on time.

Using cogent examples, Devaux takes the reader through the details of planning the work scope, developing the work breakdown structure (WBS), scheduling, actively assigning resources, and tracking and controlling the project. He also discusses the interaction of one project with other projects in the planning stage.

The book demonstrates how to place dollar values on each side of the triangle, which consists of a scope, time and cost. Several new concepts, beyond the basic precedence diagram method and WBS, are also introduced:

* Expected monetary value.

* Devaux's index of project performance.

* Devaux's removed activity gage.

* Net value-added.

* Cost of leveling with unresolved bottlenecks.

* Doubled resource estimated duration.

* Actual cost of work performed.

* Budgeted cost of work scheduled.

* Organizational breakdown structure.

Each step in the project planning process is addressed with pertinent charts, tables and formulas. These documents detail the results of scheduling, availability/use of resources, trade-off decisions and the ultimate impact on delivery and value to the organization. Devaux criticizes the traditional practice of padding each activity. Instead, he promotes realistic estimates and sets up a discretionary contingency fund available only to the project manager. He aptly demonstrates the pros and cons of making decisions with an eye on the monetary value of each decision.

Just short of actually naming specific products, Devaux castigates project management software manufacturers for their products' shortfalls. Similarly, he states, " ... students at the best business schools in the United States continue to obtain master's degrees without being required to take so much as a single course in project management."

The book is not a quick and easy read. It gets down and dirty with facts and figures, and it shows little tolerance for management's lax attitude toward the subject. Though it may not be the first book you read as a novice to project management, it should certainly be the second.

Given the paradigm shift toward project oriented organizations and the generally recognized failure of top management to get involved in the project management process, this book is a timely heads-up. "Those corporations that are the first to make significant improvement in their management of projects are simply going to put the competition out of business," says Devaux.

Russ Westcott
R.T. Westcott & Associates
Old Saybrook, CT

Performance, Learning
and Perceptions in Organizations

Richard A. Swanson and Elwood F. Holton III, Berret-Kohler Publishers, 450 Sansome St., San Francisco, CA 94111-3320, 1999, 282 pp., $34.95. (book)

This book was written to help improve the evaluation systems used in human resource development (HRD). Because the analysis and assessment phases directly connect to the primary mission and goal of an organization, Swanson and Holton present a usable system for results assessment. This book demonstrates how to assess performance, learning and perception results through HRD interventions and other development efforts sponsored by leaders, managers and work groups. I enjoyed the book because I think it's practical and useful in assessing the effectiveness of quality initiatives.

The core concepts of the results assessment system work as a general model for any planned change whether it's a quality improvement, training process or learning sequence. The assessment of results is about the consequence of a particular action, operation or strategy. Readers will learn to measure system, financial, knowledge and expertise outcomes. Readers will also learn how to organize the results so they can easily be reported. Using the provided tools, a manager can assess the performance drivers in the learning organization for quality improvement and management development.

Swanson and Holton show how long-term effectiveness through results assessment can be integrated into other organizational systems. They link it to upfront analysis requiring stakeholder ownership, emphasizing it as a learning process. Implementing results assessment is a journey that must be managed as an organizational change process. It is important to implement what the culture will allow. The results assessment will provide clues to incentives and rewards that make it possible for a manager to leverage the desired outcomes.

Human resource and quality professionals should read this book because assessment and certification of expertise play a significant role in human resource development. The book will help them understand why some interventions work and what interventions need to be changed for their organization. Using the tools developed in this book will help business leaders clarify the HRD initiatives required for strategic and competitive survival.

John J. Lanczycki
Creative Planners

Quality Assurance for the Chemical and Process Industries

ASQ Chemical Process Industries Division, Chemical Interest Committee, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202, 1999, 74 pp., member $18, list $20. (book)

The methodology used for sampling and measurement in chemical and process industries is rather different from the one used in mechanical industries. The relatively large variability in measurements requires the proper use of statistical methods for process control. This book was written with this consideration in mind. The book documents good quality management practices in chemical and process industries. It can serve as a reference manual for process engineers, quality professionals, manufacturing managers, and customers of the chemical and process industries.

The authors organized the book into 11 chapters and a bibliography. The first chapter describes the framework used to apply quality management methods in the chemical and process industries. The topics discussed in the remaining chapters include:

* Organization and responsibilities.

* Basis for specifications.

* Sampling technology.

* Analysis and testing.

* Process control.

* New products and processes.

* Shipping.

* Distributor relations.

* Audit practice.

* Customer and supplier relations.

Each chapter begins with a brief discussion of one of the above mentioned topics and then provides an explanation of the ISO 9000 elements that are related to the topic. The bibliography presents an extensive list of sources regarding quality management techniques, ISO 9000 requirements and systems and processes in chemical industries.

The key strength of this book is its reader friendly style. It can serve as an excellent source of reference information for those involved with processes and systems in the chemical and process industries. Its only weakness is the lack of detailed information regarding ISO 9000 requirements for the chemical and process industries.

Sohail Anwar
EET department coordinator
Pennsylvania State University-Altoona

Fundamentals of Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing

Volumes One, Two and Three, Alex Krulikowski, Effective Training, PO Box 756, Wayne, MI 48184, 14.03 hours, $2,495. (video with instructor's manual and workbook)

The Fundamentals of Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing video training course contains 10 videotapes, one workbook and one instructor's manual. The course is divided into 30 lessons, each lasting 12 to 57 minutes. The material is suitable for either a self-study or an instructor guided classroom environment.

The video's coverage of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) is based on the latest standard ASME Y14.5M-1994 and is quite comprehensive. After completing the course, students will understand GD&T, an important aspect of engineering drawings. The course author, Alex Krulikowski, points out that GD&T provides a language that unambiguously communicates the intention of the designer to the part manufacturer. Krulikowski's presentation is clear and to the point, but the material is abstract and sometimes difficult for a novice to navigate.

Though the topic is fundamental, it leads students to ask more in-depth questions regarding design, measurement and assembly. However, case in point, how a designer determines the optimum tolerance based on the considerations in part function, manufacturability and reliability, is not discussed in the course.

The workbook is the best part about the entire course because it can be used on its own, and it also provides additional details the video leaves out, such as the history of GD&T. Also, some of the drawings in the video are not clear, but the drawings in the workbook are clear and readable.

A video training course is the next best thing to a real-life presentation by an instructor. As a whole, this video series is an effective method of learning and is cost efficient.

Shin Ta Liu
Lynx Systems
San Diego

Action Tools for Effective Managers: A Guide for Solving Day-to-Day Problems on the Job, Margaret Mary Gootnick and David Gootnick, Amacom, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 2000, 241 pp., $18.95. (book)

Financially Focused Quality, Thomas M. Cappels, CRC Press, 2000 Corporate Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33431, 1999, 294 pp., $39.95. (book)

Managing the Testing Process, Rex Black, Microsoft Press, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399, 1999, $39.99. (CD-ROM)

Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World's Top Corporations, Mikel Harry and Richard Schroeder, Currency, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, 2000, 298 pp., $42. (book)

Manual on Test Sieving Methods: Guidelines
For Establishing Sieve Analysis Procedures, 4th Edition,
Lawrence R. Pope and Charles W. Ward, ASTM, 100 Barr Harbor Dr., West Conshohocken, PA 19248-2958, 1998, 43 pp., $26. (book)

The One to One Manager: Real-World Lessons
In Customer Relationship Management,
Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Currency and Doubleday, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, 1999, 268 pp., $21.95. (book)

Average Rating


Out of 0 Ratings
Rate this article

Add Comments

View comments
Comments FAQ

Featured advertisers