A manufacturing company is a dynamic entity and it offers tremendous learning opportunities to students of management.The main reason why manufacturing set ups become an interesting case study is because they are structured in a distinct manner.
At the people front, for example, these companies have a healthy mix of brown collared and white collared employees all of whom come with unique needs, aspirations and expectations.
Moreover, there are complex engineering operations that are at work in manufacturing firms. They have automated controls, actuators which is nothing but a device which performs a mechanical action in the manufacturing system. Further they also have sensors which function as an input device to detect an event (e.g. pressure) in a system or environment and report those conditions to a user
Moreover, these firms also have CAD, which is a computer aided design program which is highly interactive and is used in the design of individual components and complete systems.
Typically the users of this system are supervisors who come with an engineering background and yet get classified as brown collared workers. They oversee the day-to-day operations of the unit and tackle any crisis-like situation that might emerge at the plant level.
At the corporate level, manufacturing companies have departments such as HR, Finance, Marketing, Operations and SCM. The uniqueness here lies in the fact that some of these departments, such as SCM for example is never found in a service organization. Similarly, there is strong inter-linkages and co-relations between all these departments. A failure in the SCM department in the area of inventory management for example can result in the failure of the business as a whole.
When a student of management pays a visit to a manufacturing company he/she is taken through the end-to-end processes and systems that are prevalent in the shop floor. They are also given a management perspective by telling them how these engineering systems are managed seamlessly.
They are also given an overview of the company in terms of background, current standing in the market, competitor scenario and what is the company doing to sustain itself. They are also enlightened on the manufacturing functions done in house so that they appreciate the complexities of a manufacturing set up.
For example, if the students were to be sent to Bajaj they would realize that 85% of the operations are complex engineering and there are different set of problems which are never visible in a service sector. They get to know where the Raw material comes from, how it si processed what are the expectation among others.
Similarly in the heat treatment shop the worker who is working has to work at high temperatures that typically range from 48o and upwards. Thus it is humanly impossible to work at such detrimental heat conditions. Now students come face to face with such unique problems encountered at the shop floor: it is something they wouldn’t have understood sitting in an air conditioned office.
They also appreciate the dynamics of team work. They realize that the work done by every individual in the plant is equally critical for generating a flawless output. They are given a de-briefing which is mostly conducted by the HR and personnel relations officers and students are given the opportunity to pose questions on their functioning.