Wilmar International's Lean and Agile Initiatives
The paper mainly reflects on “Wilmar International”, which is a processing and investment holding company with more than 300 subsidiary companies. The business activities of the company generally include oil palm cultivation, oilseed crushing, edible oils, sugar milling as well as refining as well as manufacturing of oleochemicals and fertilizers (Pro, 2022). The main aim of the paper is to review both the lean as well as agile concepts in order to assess how both the techniques can work together by successfully evaluating the benefits as well as limitations. Additionally, the paper evaluates the way in which lean and agile operations works with global manufacturing firms. Moreover, the paper also elaborates the need for manufacturing firms to implement lean as well as agile strategies. Furthermore, the paper also appraises the key attributes that help the manufacturers in overcoming different types of uncertainties during the use of both lean and agile in a global manufacturing firm like Wilmar International.
Wilmar International is a global manufacturing firm that develops different types of lean projects, and it is identified that those projects become quite effective when they are combined with agile methodologies. It is identified that both lean and agile manufacturing are the two important initiatives that are mainly utilized by Wilmar International for improving the operations capabilities of the organization. Combining both lean as well as agile methodologies generally helps in providing much more consistent value to the customers. Wilmar International uses lean manufacturing for removing the wastes from the planning as well as production processes. According to Khalfallah and Lakhal (2020), it is identified that by adopting a lean manufacturing-based process, the organizations generally need to improve quality material handling, reduce inventory as well as improve quality for enhancing customer satisfaction. The pandemic, as well as volatile marketing conditions, generally needs new ways of working within manufacturing. The main priority of Wilmar International is to ensure the safety of the employees for maintaining an efficient operation. Wilmar international needs to cope with the changing demands of the customers as well as disruptions that occur within the supply chain in order to successfully deliver high product variants by combing lean manufacturing with agile manufacturing (Iqbal et al., 2020). Manufacturers generally need to adapt the production system for paving the way for future proof operations. Lean manufacturing systems must be effectively transformed into an agile production system for successful manufacturing.
Wilmar Information Technology team generally strives for delivering value-added services to different business functions by creating a secured as well as flexible, agile and lean landscape. Wilmar international uses lean strategies in order to reduce the waste for conserving resources. It is stated by Tripathi et al. (2021) that excess inventory generally helps in adding steps which generally can result in much more errors that are quite challenging for the organization. However, the use of lean strategies focusses on the zero-defect result by successfully tracking the causes of the issues for reducing errors within the entire manufacturing process. Moreover, it is identified that adopting lean manufacturing strategies by Wilmar International generally helps in reducing the manufacturing costs by enhancing the labor productivity, reducing inventories and further helps in cutting errors.
The Need for Lean and Agile in Global Manufacturing Firms
Integrating lean manufacturing with agile manufacturing helps in creating as well as adapting production processes flexibly. An agile production system generally helps in providing the ability to define, building as well as deploy the entire production process. According to Ghobakhloo and Azar (2018), Agile manufacturing focuses on the rapid response of the customers, which not only improves the quality of the products and services but it also helps in enhancing the competitive advantage of the organization within the market. By using agile, the manufacturers can achieve a structural advantage over the offshore competitors by leveraging the proximity within the local markets for delivering new as well as highly personalized products with unprecedented speed for successfully meeting the market needs. In today’s market, the customers of the Wilmar organization require products of the best quality which can meet their needs and demands. It is opined by Mathiyazhagan et al. (2021) that the use of agile manufacturing strategies generally helps in enabling the manufacturers of Wilmar International to build the best consumer-related products while keeping up in the market with the varying demands of the organization.
Lean as well as agile manufacturing provides customer satisfaction with a very much cost-effective practice. According to Parsons & MacCallum (2019), the role of lean as well as agile manufacturing within Wilmar International is identified to be quite vital for maintaining proper and optimum work processes during the entire production flow. Lean manufacturing focuses on removing waste, whereas agile focuses on using the current resources quite intelligently such that the organization has the right data for successfully implementing the changes within manufacturing. Lean manufacturing helps in creating much more value to the customers by reducing waste, whereas agile manufacturing helps in creating much more value to the customers by properly responding to the changes, which helps Wilmar International be quite productive as well as competitive in the market. It is opined by Nabass and Abdallah (2018) that the organization utilizes different types of lean as well as agile manufacturing principles by successfully creating proper value to the customers by responding to the changes with rapid iterations, bottom-up innovations, flexibility as well as cross-functional collaboration. It is identified that both Lean, as well as agile methods, are mutually exclusive for Wilmar International, where the lean manufacturers can learn from Agile and vice versa.
Global manufacturing firms like Wilmar International needs to implement agile and lean strategies due to the following reason that are mainly elaborated below.
- Cost leadership: Wilmar International implementscost leadership-based strategy for mediating the impact of competitive intensity of the industry as a driver of lean manufacturing, whereas it is identified that agile manufacturing is directly affected by both the internal as well as external drivers (Ganebnykh, Fokina & Lukinov, 2019). The implementation of cost leadership strategy also helps in increasing market size, business sustainability as well as profit margin of the organization.
- Cost reduction: Wilmar International implements strategies leanas lean manufacturing focuses on improving quality and as a result, very much fewer defective products are generally produced, which minimizes waste and further helps in reducing the total cost of manufacturing. Wilmar International focuses on lean manufacturing as lean manufacturing reduces production time, and thus the total cost that is spent on labour, as well as facilities, generally get reduced, which minimizes the total cost (Qamar et al., 2020).
- Quality: Lean manufacturing is one of the production-based theories that help in emphasizing the elimination of waste in different forms. It is identified as by using Lean, Wilmar International focuses on waste elimination which further improves the quality of the products that are manufactured (Rodriguezet al., 2019). As lean is a quality control technique, it improves efficiency and focuses on proper maintenance of the products that are manufactured.
- Delivery speed: Lean manufacturing generally helps in lowering the production costs, which further increases output and further helps in reducing the production lead time that further enhances the delivery speed of manufacturing. Furthermore, lean emphasizes proper improvement of the process efficiency, value stream responsiveness as well as shorter cycle time which also speeds up the manufacturing delivery (Ding et al., 2021). Moreover, standard work generally helps in making a particular procedure much more predictable, which is also an important factor for speeding up the manufacturing process.
- Delivery reliability: Lean manufacturing helps in reducing waste and thus further helps in enhancing the probability that the manufactured products, as well as services, will perform quite adequately for a specified time period without any failure. It will not only help in increasing the brand value of the organization but also help in enhancing the quality of the products as well as services (Sindhwani et al., 2020).
- Mix Flexibility: Wilmar International integrates agile manufacturing with lean manufacturing as agile manufacturing provides flexible procedures, proper and effective material flows, and as a result, it becomes easy for the organization to effectively deal with the slight or mixed parts for allowing variation in the entire manufacturing procedure. It is identified that mix flexibility is identified to be quite essential for the fast market as well as customer responsiveness as well as profitability (Esmaeel et al., 2018).
- Volume flexibility: Volume flexibility is needed by Wilmar International in order to change the ability of production volume. The use of agile manufacturing helps in increasing the response time as well as mobility that further helps in reducing the requirement for long runs, which further allows production to properly follow demand without having excessive inventory (Esmaeel et al., 2018).
- Increased customer satisfaction:An agile production system will help in enhancing the factory-based output, better workforce utilization, operational flexibility, which further helps in reducing cost and further helps in enhancing customer satisfaction (Ahmed & Rashdi, 2020). Furthermore, agile helps in allowing the manufacturing team to properly adapt to the market changes quite quickly so that the organization can allow proper and flexible market strategies, which help the team to keep up with the market shifts.
The various key agile attributes that would help the manufacturers in overcoming the uncertainties that mainly occurs during the entire manufacturing process are mainly elaborated below:
- Change in the marketplace: With the help of agile strategies, it becomes quite easy for agile manufacturers of Wilmar International to properly adapt to the ever-changing demands of the market for avoiding uncertainties related to changing marketplace. According to Qamar, Hall and Collinson (2018), the processes, tools, as well as training that are generally provided to the manufacturers while using agile generally helps in quickly responding to the changing marketplace while successfully controlling the cost as well as quality during the process of manufacturing.
- Change in competition: Competition is one of the main challenges before Wilmar International and they experience a lot of difficulties however in order to avoid such uncertainties, Wilmar International uses agile manufacturing. It is stated by Gunasekaran et al. (2019) that during the procedure of manufacturing, the manufacturers generally achieve a proper structural advantage over the offshore competitors by successfully leveraging the proximity within the local markets for delivering new as well as very much personalized products with proper speed. This not only helps in increasing competition in the market but also helps the business in expanding their business in the market for earning a huge amount of profit.
- Change in customer requirements: Agile manufacturing generally puts proper emphasis on the rapid response to the changing demands of the customers and thus it is necessary for Wilmar International to use agile for handling changes within the customer requirements. It is opined by Yli-Ojanpera et al. (2019)that in order to successfully maintain a proper competitive advantage within the entire market, it is necessary to satisfy the demands of the customers successfully by managing the changing requirements as well as demands of the customers quite well. Agile manufacturing helps in providing better results to the organization by successfully handling the changing requirements of the customers.
- Social changes and internal drivers: The use of agile strategies makes changes in context to social changes as well as internal drivers so that the challenges that occur during manufacturing can be resolved effectively. Proper internal drivers like organizational as well as team alignment as well as leveraging technology generally helps in enhancing trust and further open lines for communication that further motivates the employees to achieve the goals quite successfully.
There are a number of capabilities of agile that not only helps in handling uncertainties that are experienced by the manufacturers but also helps in successfully manufacturing products as well as services for being competitive in the market. The agile capabilities are elaborated below:
- Flexibility: When flexibility related uncertainties occur during manufacturing, then agile is the best option to opt before the manufacturers. Agile helps in providing proper flexibility that further allows the organization to respond to the changes that are in demand quite effectively. According to Sindhwani et al. (2019) that Agile utilizes a very adaptive mechanism for the successful delivery of the work by handling the change requirements well without impacting the final output.
- Quickness in product development: The emphasis within the agile method helps in enabling production and further supports a function for enabling the team quite better and thus the uncertainty that occurs due to delay in product development during manufacturing can be resolved. The agile approach generally helps in solving issues quite quickly and further helps in providing much more customized solutions, and as a result, it helps in successful product development quite faster and successfully (Nabass & Abdallah, 2018).
- Responsiveness to change: It becomes quite difficult for the manufacturers to handle the changes quite well, and as a result, it becomes difficult to meet the needs and demands of the customers. It is opined by Khalfallah and Lakhal (2020) thatthe use of agile generally provides the manufacturers with an excellent way to respond to the changes quite effectively, and thus it becomes easy for the manufacturers to grab opportunities that make the manufacturing organization successful in the market.
- Focussing on the customer: The manufacturers experience a lot of challenges as well as uncertainties in meeting the demands as well as needs of the customers. However, if the agile approach is used during manufacturing, it becomes easy to maintain quality and meet the various needs as well as requirements of the customers quite well. According to Singhet al. (2019), Agile manufacturing focuses on filling the demands of the customers in very minimal time for making the customers satisfy and happy and further helps in expanding their products and services to different parts of the world quite well as the demands of the customers.
- Competency: Strategic agility during manufacturing is considered as one of the competencies that further help the professional manufacturers to properly adapt the strategic approaches as conditions that change while successfully embracing the opportunities in context to innovation (Kumar, Singh & Jain, 2020). This generally helps in bringing some positive changes within the procedure of manufacturing so that the issues and challenges that are associated with manufacturing can be resolved quite successfully.
- Transparency: When agile is used during manufacturing, then the entire process of manufacturing becomes quite open as well as transparent. As a result, the employees or workers who are involved within the manufacturing procedure does not experience any types of challenges (Iqbal, Huq & Bhutta, 2018).Rather, they can be able to execute the roles and responsibilities that are allocated to them.
It can be concluded from the paper that both lean and agile manufacturing generally plays a great role in the success of the Wilmar projects and manufacturing operations. Both lean and agile approaches help in enhancing transparency as well as visibility which further reduces risks as well cost of manufacturing. Lean helps in encouraging the entire team to deliver quite fast by successfully managing the production and delivery, whereas the agile team focuses on managing changes as well as meeting the demands as well as expectations of the clients. The paper discusses the reason behind the selection of Lean and the agile manufacturing approach by Wilmar International for managing their manufacturing as well as operations. Additionally, the paper also discusses the benefits that Wilmar International achieves being a global manufacturing firm that uses a lean and agile manufacturing approach. Furthermore, the paper also discusses some of the important key attributes that further help the manufacturers in overcoming uncertainties.
Key Attributes for Overcoming Uncertainties in Manufacturing
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