Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM)

Logistics and Supply Chain

Automated production line in modern food factory.

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Quick response manufacturing (QRM) is one of the popular outcomes of lean manufacturing - where companies have progressed from the just-in-time (JIT) methodologies of the 1970’s.

The QRM process looks at how lead times across the company can be reduced to increase productivity. Customer satisfaction is an important driver for businesses and the ability to respond quickly to customer’s requirements is a leading factor behind QRM. Customers expect their vendors to respond to their requirements, so by adopting QRM processes companies may have an advantage in winning business.

Implementing QRM

When a company implements QRM, the process of reducing lead times should be adopted throughout the organization. The company should also include analysis techniques and tools, and a step-by-step methodology to achieve the required reduction in lead times.

QRM is often implemented by two types of businesses.

The first type is a company that produces highly engineered material in small batches.

The other type of company to implement QRM is one that does not need to engineer each item but has a very large number of different items with highly variable demand for each.

Implementing QRM requires that the whole organization understands and its part of the process. In addition, both management and employees should understand the manufacturing systems that are in place at the company, especially those that affect lead times.

However, lead times are not always determined by manufacturing processes. The purchase of raw materials, a back-office function, will trigger a lead time and part of the QRM policy will include reducing lead times of non-manufacturing processes. The QRM will, therefore, cover all areas such as purchasing, shipping, finance, and human resources.

The Benefits of QRM

When a company has implemented QRM it should be able to realize a reduction in lead times of up to 95 percent, a reduction in finished product cost of 30 percent, an improvement in on-time delivery performance in excess of 60 percent, and reduction in scrap and rework of up to 80 percent or more.

If the definition of an optimized supply chain is "getting your customers what they want, when they want it—and spending as little money as possible getting that done" (and we believe that is the core definition of optimized supply chain)—then lean manufacturing is an invaluable tool in accomplishing that.

Within the definition of lean manufacturing, ​you'll find the impetus to continue to drive costs out of your production, logistics, customer delivery, and overall supply chain. Using lean manufacturing can help guarantee that year-over-year you'll find savings—which is a key metric in today's supply chain. 

The efficiency that lean manufacturing drives toward will also allow for greater visibility of your customers' needs—and drive on-time delivery higher. This will get you that first part of the optimized supply chain definition—getting your customers what they want when they want it. 

Optimize Your Supply Chain

Lean manufacturing is as important today (and will be tomorrow) as it was when it was conceived. Companies today—now more than ever—are looking to their supply chains to find cost savings. Those cost savings can be found by negotiating purchase prices with suppliers, but they can also be found in process optimization. If through the lean process of waste reduction, you can drive manufacturing cycle times down or reduce scrap—you're saving your company money beyond the basic cost of goods reduction.

If QRM is right for you and your company, using QRM as an adjunct to your lean manufacturing program, will help reduce costs across multiple functions, eliminate waste from your production processes, drive customer service levels higher and result in a higher level of financial goal achievement.

With QRM, you and your company have the potential to reduce inventory levels and speed customer response time. If lead time and scrap reduction are company goals, QRM might be right for you. Remember:

  • Get full company buy-in
  • Use the right analyses and tools
  • Set up your methodology to achieve QRM and follow it

This article has been updated by Gary Marion.