While agility means di erent things to di erent enterprises under di erent contexts, the following elements capture its essential concept: agility is characterized by cooperativeness and synergism (possibly resulting in virtual corporations), by a strategic vision that enables thriving in face of continuous and unpredictable change, by the responsive creation and delivery of customer-valued, high quality and mass customized goods/services, by nimble organization structures of a knowledgeable and empowered workforce, and facilitated by an information infrastructure that links constituent partners in a uni®ed electronic network.
During this period, a signi®cant amount of attention from both the academic and industrial communities has produced a large body of results in research and development related to this topic. Each contribution has tackled a di erent aspect of this large ®eld. In this paper, we review a wide range of recent literature on agile manufacturing. About 73 papers from premier scienti®c journals and conferences have been reviewed, and a classi®cation scheme to organize these is proposed.
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We critique these bodies of work and suggest directions for additional research and identify topics where fruitful opportunities exist.
Introduction World-class performance is a moving target that requires constant attention and e ort; the process is a neverending journey. In the past, economies of scale ruled the manufacturing world and everybody knew that mass production and full utilization of plant capacity was the way to make money. This style of manufacturing, resulted in in? exible plants that could not be easily recon®gured, and were associated with swollen raw materials, work-in-process and ®nished goods inventories. Since the early 1980s, in pursuit of greater ? exibility, elimination of excess in inventory, shortened lead-times, and advanced levels of quality in both products and customer service, industry analysts have popularized the terms `world-class manufacturing’ and `lean production’ (Sheridan 1993). In the 1990s, industry leaders were trying to formulate a new paradigm for successful manufacturing enterprises in the 21st century; even though many manufacturing ®rms were still struggling to implement lean production concepts. In 1991, a group of more than 150 industry executives participated in a study.
This paper presents a new information model that describes the systems, process capabilities, and performance of a manufacturing ®rm. They implemented the model and used it as part of a decision support system for design evaluation and partner selection in agile manufacturing . Candadai et al (1995) and Herrmann and Minis (1996) describe a variant approach to evaluate, early in the product life cycle, a proposed design with respect to the capabilities of the potential partners.
The result of this work is an integrated system for design evaluation and partner selection for ? at electro-mechanical products. Using this system, a designer can de®ne a feature-based product model, generate concise product descriptors, search for and sort similar products, generate alternative plant-speci®c process plans, evaluate those plans, and compare them to ®nd the most suitable combination of processes and manufacturing partners.
The main strength of this variant approach is the integration of the following issues related to variant design critiquing: hybrid feature-based product modelling, automated generation of Group Technology codes, concise but detailed product description, and the accurate and rapid retrieval of designs and process plans of similar products. Additional research is needed for non-? at parts and non-mechanical parts. Minis et al. (1999) describe a generative approach for concurrent manufacturability evaluation and partner selection.
The approach evaluates the manufacturability of a proposed design with respect to the capabilities of candidate partners and allows the product development team to select a partner based on its ability to manufacture quickly and inexpensively. The generative approach developed consists of three procedures: feasibility assessment, manufacturabilit y assessment, and plan synthesis. Feasibility assessment generates feasible process and partner combinations. Manufacturabilit y assessment evaluates these combinations. Plan synthesis combines this information and presents