Benefits of Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM)

Could you use help reducing lead times to bring your products to market more quickly?

Many companies have felt the spikes in demand for various products during the COVID-19 pandemic. QRM is a strategy to help your company be positioned to pivot and respond quickly.

APICS Milwaukee Chapter serves the supply chain community with education and information needed to compete in today’s world. Below we share more information on what QRM is and how one company was able to step up and aid in the development of a new Coronavirus test.

Per the University Wisconsin-Madison Center for Quick Response Manufacturing, QRM is a companywide strategy to reduce lead times across your enterprise. It can bring your products to market more quickly and secure your business prospects by helping you compete in a rapidly changing manufacturing arena. It will increase profitability by reducing non–value–added time, cutting inventory and increasing return on investment.

The UW-Madison Center for QRM shared a recent success story highlighted below:

QUICK RESPONSE MANUFACTURING (QRM) PRINCIPLES ENABLE PROMEGA CORPORATION TO AID IN DEVELOPMENT OF NEW CORONAVIRUS TEST

Promega Corporation of Madison, Wisconsin was recently recognized by its customer, Utah-based Co-Diagnostics, Inc. for the support Promega custom manufacturing provided in the rapid development and launch of the new Logix Smarttm COVID-19 Test. This test is now approved and available in Europe as an in vitro diagnostic and continues to advance toward emergency use clearance as an in vitro diagnostic in the US as well as India. Co-Diagnostics used the Promega PCR Optimization Kit to refine its custom master mix for coronavirus testing.

The Promega Custom Operations team then manufactured, QC tested, dispensed and packed the customized PCR assay reagents under the highest quality standards IN LESS THAN 10 BUSINESS DAYS.

Promega Corporation is a member of the Center for Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and company leaders credit the use of QRM lead time reduction principles for dramatic improvements in their ability to respond quickly to unique customer orders and requests.

The QRM Center is a partnership between industry, faculty and students dedicated to the development and implementation of lead time reduction principles.

According to Promega Senior Manager Kristina Pearson, who oversaw implementation of QRM at the company, “As Promega’s custom manufacturing business continues to grow, we understand that lead time reduction is critical for market success.  Based on our objectives, QRM principles were a natural fit to meet our goals.”

Working directly with the QRM Center’s students and staff, Promega designed both office and product finishing cells to address the need to assess and evaluate inquiries, process orders and answer questions rapidly with a high level of customer service.

As Pearson explained, “A unique aspect of QRM is the focus not only on the manufacturing shop floor but also in the office area.  Most manufacturing principles focus solely on shop floor efficiencies.  Our initial evaluation helped us realize some key inefficiencies in our office processes.  We worked with a graduate student from the QRM Center to help us analyze our functional roles, using various modeling programs, to create a solution tailored to our business.  As a result, we moved cross-functional roles into a single co-located office space.  By co-locating staff, the team is able to quickly talk with each other in an open office area to get questions answered instantaneously instead of waiting for someone to respond to email.”

“In addition,” Pearson said, “Promega created dedicated office and lab spaces to build additional capacity for our custom business.  Our team was involved with office and lab space layouts.  We also worked with the QRM Center to help us design our new spaces in order to maximize the area for lead time reduction.”

As a result of these efforts, Dwight Egan, CEO at Co-Diagnostics said, “Promega proved to be an invaluable partner, enabling us to rapidly deliver high-quality diagnostic solutions using our CoPrimerTM technology. Our business model demands that we work with a manufacturer that can re-prioritize quickly, enabling a truly rapid response to emerging infectious diseases, and Promega provides us with that high level of service. Their dedication to customer support was instrumental in bringing a detection solution to the market.”

According to Promega’s Pearson, as a result of the projects conducted with the QRM Center, the company has been able to reduce its lead time for basic custom orders from 15 working days to 10 working days. In addition, the extra capacity built into lab and office space design with the Center’s help allows the company to meet requests in as little as five business days for emergencies like pandemic responses.

To read this success story and more, visit the UW-Madison Center for QRM website.

Looking for more information on QRM? Join us on December 10th to hear from Dr. Charlene Yauch, the Associate Director for the Center for QRM and a Professor of Practice in Industrial & Systems Engineering at UW – Madison. Register today: https://apicsmilw.org/meet-reg1.php?id=592.