World Class Manufacturing

World-Class Manufacturing ensures a business enterprise can lead their markets and compete with anyone, anywhere producing a similar product. It means that an enterprise has implemented and is sustaining a comprehensive, effective production approach throughout the extended value chain, one that all workers can understand and embrace. In that, everyone continually drives structured process performance efficiencies in order to be competitive and retain customers. Such an enterprise invests in its people preparing them to perform vital tasks that impart excellent consumer value.

World-class manufacturing bears significant resemblance to other methodologies that also seek to achieve a state of ongoing industrial optimization including: TPS, Lean Enterprise, Six Sigma, and many customized organizational variants. Among these analogs, the precise components, their focus and emphasis vary a bit. As for world-class manufacturing, the inner workings of it were first described by Schonberger[1]. Nearly two decades later, with an explicit focus on zero loss, zero defects, zero breakdowns and zero inventory, a different construct with effectively the same name, World Class Manufacturing (WCM), was developed in 2005 by H. Yamashina[2], Fiat and some of its partners.

Since that time when the topic of “WCM” comes up, more often than not, it refers to this contemporary program called WCM employed in several industrial sectors, most notably automotive integration enterprises such as FCA Group and their tiered supply chain.

WCM aims to ensure that the FCA Group’s facilities are flexible and competitive with the best in the world.” – Sergio Marchionne, former CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

For these entities, WCM is both a management style and simply the way they do business. Through an extensive Lean Enterprise-like pillared framework with ten technical and ten managerial imperatives, WCM seeks to align and prepare the organization at-large to continually optimize product delivery performance throughout the extended value chain. Having significant philosophical and directional similarities with Lean Enterprise… both sharing roots to TPS, one notable difference with WCM is the keen emphasis on loss management through the explicit rigor of its Cost Deployment pillar.


[1] World Class Manufacturing: The Lessons of Simplicity Applied, R.J. Schonberger (1986).

[2] Professor Emeritus, Kyoto University, Japan.

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