A case study of flexible tooling solutions for a small healthcare company
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This paper is based on a collaboration between PDR and Performance Health Products (PHP) Ltd. The case-study methodology employed outputs from commercial activities and interviews with supervisors on a two-year KTP programme. Byrne and Howells collated all the commercial material and Penman and Collings facilitated the KTP-based interviews. Millward, the principal author of the paper, developed the foundation for product development within SMEs, and documented and analysed the findings in the context of rapid product development and agile strategies. Many PDR research papers highlight the barriers to product design and development within SMEs - the significance of this study is that it shows how a small, resource-constrained company can overcome these problems through the phased implementation of flexible tooling options. The study shows that risk management is the critical driver during the early tooling phases, and cost reduction and time compression for the latter tooling phases can be achieved through novel tooling configurations and advanced technology manufacturing systems. The main finding is that customisation and flexibility in a company's product should be matched by flexibility and agility in the corresponding product development process. The agile product development process covers mastering uncertainty, effective collaborations, total solution products/processes, and a knowledge-driven enterprise. As a result of this research paper, the study findings have been challenged through MSc and PhD research studies, with the overall aim of developing a generic model of agile product development that can be applied to SMEs in general.
International Journal of Agile Systems and Management
Millward, H., Byrne, C., Howells, T., Penman, R. and Collings, R. (2007) 'A case study of flexible tooling solutions for a small healthcare company', International Journal of Agile Systems and Management, 2(2), pp.147-162.
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