It's About Time: The Competitive Advantage of Quick Response Manufacturing, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

It's About Time

The Competitive Advantage of Quick Response Manufacturing, 1st Edition

By Rajan Suri

Productivity Press

228 pages | 27 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781439805954
pub: 2010-03-31
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429250835
pub: 2010-03-31
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In the decade since the publication of Rajan Suri’s landmark book, Quick Response Manufacturing, the innovative principles of QRM have been proven with impressive results at many companies, big and small, in a variety of industries. While the key principles of QRM remain unchanged, after a decade of teaching QRM workshops to senior executives, Suri has developed a clear, concise, and accessible method of presenting QRM strategy using four core concepts:

1. The Power of Time – the huge impact time has on your entire enterprise

2. Organization Structure – how to structure your organization to reduce lead times

3. System Dynamics – understanding how interactions between jobs and resources impact time to make better decisions on capacity, lot sizes, and similar issues

4. Enterprise-Wide Application – QRM is not just a shop floor strategy, it extends across your whole enterprise including material planning and control, supply management, office operations, and new product introduction

Presenting new case studies on QRM implementation, It's About Time: The Competitive Advantage of Quick Response Manufacturing illustrates how QRM can not only reduce lead times but also improve quality, reduce operating costs, and enable companies to gain substantial market share. This practical reference explains how factories in advanced nations can use QRM strategy to compete with manufacturers in low-wage countries. In addition, it provides helpful pointers for QRM implementation, including accounting strategies, novel cost-justification approaches, and a stepwise process for implementation.

Also included is a bonus CD with five appendices that provide a number of practical details to assist in the success of your QRM implementation. When you are ready to start implementing QRM, you will find that these appendices contain time-saving tips to help you work through implementation issues―including simple calculation methods and tools to support the design of your QRM strategy. You can also access these Appendices on the Downloads and updates tab on

The author, Rajan Suri, recently became one of only 10 people to be inducted into Industry Week's 2010 Manufacturing Hall of Fame.


Suri's work is refreshingly logical. And for a book having fewer than 200 pages, it's incredibly comprehensive, covering shop floor part flow; the front office; engineering; new-product development; scheduling; supplier strategies; and even basic accounting issues, including an insightful discussion of how a shop allocates overhead and the effect it has on shop operations.

Most refreshing of all, not once does Suri mention anything about 'doing more with less.' Under QRM, if demand rises, companies should indeed invest in machines and people to build in that excess capacity and ensure utilization doesn't head into dangerously high territory. QRM does demand that workers perform myriad functions, set up more often, and manage product flow. But it doesn't demand that they put in long hours to get the job done. During a time when so many companies are reluctant to add to their payrolls, that's a powerful message.

-Tim Heston, Senior Editor, FMA Communications Inc., in The Fabricator, October 2011

Table of Contents

The Power of Time

Defining QRM

Challenges to Reducing Lead Time

QRM Focus is Different from Traditional Approach

Manufacturing Critical-Path Time (MCT)

Impact of MCT on Your Organization’s Performance

Rethinking the "On-Time Delivery" Metric

Squeezing Out Time Leads to Numerous Improvements

Organizational Structure for Quick Response: QRM Cells, Teamwork, and Ownership

Response Time Spirals

Four Structural Changes for Quick Response

Harnessing the Power of the Four Structural Keys

Understanding and Exploiting System Dynamics Principles

The Parable of the Landing Gear

The Pitfall of High Utilization

Three-Pronged Strategy to Reduce Flow Time

System Dynamics Compared with MRP, EOQ, and Other Traditional Approaches

Why Companies Mistakenly Invest in Warehouses Instead of Machines

A Unified Strategy for the Whole Enterprise

Principles of Quick Response in Office Operations

Restructure Your Material Planning System to Support QRM

POLCA—the Shop Floor Material Control Strategy to Support QRM

Transforming Your Purchasing Using Time-Based Supply Management

Time-Based Mindset for New Product Introduction

Summary and Next Steps

A Roadmap for QRM Implementation

"Power of Six" Rule for Cost Impact of QRM

Mind-Set First, Technology Later

Embarking on Your QRM Journey

Switch to Time-Based Cost Justification of QRM Projects

Use Accounting Strategies to Support QRM

Recognize that Your Existing Improvement Strategies Strengthen Your QRM Program

Use QRM as a Positive, Unifying Perspective for Your Entire Business


About the Author

Bonus CD:

Appendix A: Tips for Calculating Manufacturing Critical-Path Time (MCT) and Creating MCT Maps

Appendix B: Practical Examples of Focused Target Market Segments (FTMS)

Appendix C: Examples of How to Think Outside the Box When Creating Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) Cells

Appendix D: Simple System Dynamics Calculations for Quick Insights

Appendix E: Implementing POLCA: The Material Control System for Low-Volume and Custom Products

About the Author

Rajan Suri is Emeritus Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He received his Bachelors degree from Cambridge University (England) in 1974, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1978. Dr. Suri founded and served as Director of the Center for Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) from 1993 to 2008, and continues to serve the Center in an advisory role. The Center is a consortium of companies working with the University on developing and implementing QRM strategies—over 200 companies have worked with and supported the activities of the Center (

Suri introduced the core concepts of QRM in his landmark book Quick Response Manufacturing: A Companywide Approach to Reducing Lead Times (Productivity Press 1998). He is also author of over 100 technical publications, has chaired several international conferences on manufacturing systems, and has served on the editorial boards of leading scholarly journals in the field. Dr. Suri combines his academic credentials with considerable practical experience. He has consulted for leading firms including 3M, Alcoa, AT&T, Danfoss, Ford, Hewlett Packard, Hitachi, IBM, Ingersoll, John Deere, National Oilwell Varco, P&H Mining Equipment, Pratt & Whitney, Rockwell Automation, Siemens and TREK Bicycle. Consulting assignments in Europe and the Far East, along with projects for the World Bank, have given him a substantial international perspective on manufacturing competitiveness.

In 1981, Dr. Suri received the Eckman Award from the American Automatic Control Council for outstanding contributions in his field. He was a member of the team that received the 1988 LEAD Award from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. He is coauthor of a paper that won the 1990 Outstanding Simulation Publication Award from The Institute of Management Sciences. In 1994, he was co-recipient of the IEEE Control Systems Technology Award. In 1999, Suri was made a Fellow of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), and in 2006, he received SME’s Albert M. Sargent Progress Award for the creation and implementation of the Quick Response Manufacturing philosophy.

Rajan Suri recently became one of only 10 people to be inducted into Industry Week's 2010 Manufacturing Hall of Fame.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control