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A Graduate Course In Agile Manufacturing

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.16.1 - 1.16.8



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Rakesh Nagi

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2563

A Graduate Course in Agile Manufacturing

Rakesh Nagi Department of Industrial Engineering, State University of New York at Buffalo

Abstract In face of recent global competition, a significant paradigm -- agile manufacturing -- is emerging, where multiple firms cooperate under flexible virtual enterprise structures. To address manufacturing education needs to promote and understand agile manufacturing concepts, a unique graduate level course is being offered at the Department of Industrial Engineering, SUNY-Buffalo. This graduate level course covers topics, enabling techniques/technologies, and case projects in agile manufacturing. It provides a core set of fundamental tools, example applications and open research topics. The objective is to expose participants to agile manufacturing issues, and enable them to creatively synthesize and apply the tools covered to open research problems. It blends quantitative and qualitative material, from multiple disciplines of industrial, manufacturing and management engineering. The specific objectives of this paper are to discuss the design and experiences of this course. Further, it is our desire to share the motivation behind the relevance of such a course, and some of the challenges in designing and offering it. We would also like to propose some possible directions in which academia could focus so that a skilled and empowered manufacturing profession base can be created.

1 Introduction

Markets for industrial goods have been fragmenting and changing rapidly. The reasons that have brought about this unpredictable change, but one which has almost become a way of life, are the constantly changing customer demands, broader product ranges, shorter model lifetimes, production to order in arbitrary lot-sizes, and technological innovations. To be competitive and thrive in such a dynamic environment a manufacturing firm must be capable of rapid adjustment in order to reduce the overall design-to-delivery time for customer- valued quality products. The necessity for swift recurrent changes has led to adoption of concepts like horizontal partnerships, cross-functional work teams, concurrent engineering, Just In Time (JIT), Total Quality Management (TQM), and lean production into a singular concept called Agile Manufacturing1. It is believed that an efficient way to satisfy market needs is for a company to collaborate with qualified partners with the necessary physical resources and capabilities. This collaboration is viewed as virtual company formation, which leads to smooth flow of product, process and business-related information across company boundaries.

Central to the ability to form joint ventures is the deployment of advanced information technologies and the development of highly nimble organizational structures to support highly skilled, knowledgeable and empowered people4. While research projects are currently addressing the first need, the significance of the future manufacturing education activities should be aimed at the creation of that skilled and knowledgeable professional workforce. It is quite clear that agile practices are significantly different from the traditional paradigms. There currently exists a pressing need to promote empowerment of people to form information networks and to communicate as peers of a non-hierarchical/decentralized and responsive scheme.

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Nagi, R. (1996, June), A Graduate Course In Agile Manufacturing Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6075

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