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University of Texas at Dallas

High costs of production and labor, combined with high rates of technological change, often cause manufacturers in developed countries to take their production offshore to lower-cost sources.

Dr. Kathryn Stecke, Ashbel Smith Professor of operations management, recently studied a production system called seru that is used by the electronics industry that creates an exception to this trend.

The study, published online in the Journal of Operations Management, describes seru as a cellular assembly approach. The system, used by companies including Canon and Sony, appears to offer promise for manufacturing in dynamic, high-cost markets, Stecke said.

“Seru is like going back to trade manufacturing, before Henry Ford’s assembly line innovation. A focus is on extremely highly trained workers, emphasizing both speed and quality,” said Stecke, who teaches operations management and flexible manufacturing strategies in the Naveen Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas.

This type of cellular manufacturing is distinguished by the ability to configure the cells quickly and its use of the cells for assembly, packaging and testing rather than only fabrication.

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