How to Win at Production Launch

Production launch is all the activities necessary to get a manufacturing plant to line-rate for a product that is new to the plant. I had executive leadership responsibility for the successful production launch of 42 programs in diverse product lines.


Experience with these programs and working with hundreds of suppliers, has shown that there are Four Key Success Factors that drive winning at production launch.

  1. Achievable Build Plan that comprehends a forecast of build problems and puts in place sufficient timing and resources to handle the forecasted realities of the launch. Besides problem work load, learning curve must also be comprehended in the Build Plan. In high performance production launches, FMEAs are done on the build plan to reduce the number and severity of forecasted problems.
  2. Dynamic Integration of all functional area activities that have launch responsibility. This is purpose driven teamwork. Plans for each functional area will have to be readjusted in real time as the program proceeds, yet all plans must strive to achieve critical milestones as though they are sacred.
  3. Part Readiness is the activity that assures all tooling, parts and documentation are available on time for every build event. Companies that have a high percent of purchased parts may feel the most pain with their supplier base. In this case, supplied parts must be addressed with rigor. The bottom line is that starting an early build event without all parts available precipitates extreme forms of waste and risk.
  4. Build Issue Resolution process must be fast and comprehensive so as to meet customer requirements for schedule (the Build Plan) and quality. The goal is that allproblems are documented and resolved fast. Data on problem solving performance is used on subsequent programs to validate Build Plans to assure they are achievable. Data on the kind of problems experienced is used to drive improvements in the product development process and subsequent product designs. Lastly, high performance problem resolution can lead to a reduction in the number of prototypes required without sacrificing quality at start of production.

For a more in-depth article, click here for How to Win at Production Launch.