It’s a QRM Revival

The Center for Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) website defines QRM as a companywide strategy to reduce lead times across an enterprise. The Alexandria Industries QRM journey began around 2002 when Tom Schabel attended a QRM seminar and decided the company may benefit from implementing this time-based strategy.

QRM uses tools like POLCA cards to shorten overall product manufacturing lead times.

QRM uses tools like POLCA cards to shorten overall product manufacturing lead times.

That decision kicked off education seminars, book studies, and projects that utilized QRM tools like Quick Response Office Cells (QROCs), manufacturing cells and Paired-cell Overlapping Loops of Cards with Authorization (POLCA). The results were astonishing. Our extrusion facility in Alexandria experienced significantly shorter lead-times and company growth—even through the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009.

Recently, we have initiated a corporate revival of QRM strategies. Through a partnership with Alexandria Technical and Community College, we have delivered a customized simulation-training package developed in the Netherlands, to nearly 60 employees.

As part of our revitalization, we formed a corporate steering committee that consists of members from each location who are responsible for supporting QRM implementation throughout Alexandria Industries.

QRM Steering Committees

In the QRM book “It’s About Time,” by Rajan Suri, forming a steering committee is part of the first step in QRM. The steering committee’s responsibility is to implement QRM throughout an organization.

At Alexandria Industries, our corporate steering committee provides support and direction to each facility. Each facility is then responsible for forming their own steering committees and implementing QRM strategies specific to their division’s needs. Each steering committee will measure and track lead times, select projects, and form their QRM planning teams to develop and propose a plan for implementing QRM principles.

To date, we have formed steering committees at our two Alexandria facilities, and our Carrollton, Texas, facility, and are currently forming committees at our Wheaton and Indianapolis facilities.

Our corporate steering committee will oversee and work with all of the committees to educate them on QRM principles and ensure the members understand their QRM steering committee roles. One member of our corporate committee will participate in each of the facility steering committees, serving as a team member and a liaison between the other committees. The corporate committee member will serve on a committee at another facility from where they work. This will allow them to bring a fresh perspective and objective viewpoint to the committee.

As our committees begin developing and implementing their QRM projects, our goal is to ensure we have the ability to serve customers with quality products in the shortest amount of time possible. Looking ahead to 2017, we will use QRM strategies to identify areas where we can improve lead times in our processes.