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When it comes to the supply chain, there is no question that the manufacturing process is the most significant area of value creation. Unlike other nodes in the supply chain, where very little value is being created during the movement, storage and transport of one's goods, the shop floor is where one transforms purchased materials into the very special product. Thus, the pursuit of improvements is continuous, and often revolves around product quality, production speeds, machine utilization and labor productivity. Of course, the challenges faced by today's manufacturers are more formidable than ever before, making lasting improvement more difficult. Customers insist on first-rate quality, lower costs and rapid delivery. Global competition requires manufacturers to produce at an unprecedented pace, with reductions in defects, waste and cost.
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