Quick Response Manufacturing: From the Shop Floor to the Office to Your Suppliers

Quick Response Manufacturing, or QRM, is a company-wide strategy to reduce lead times, particularly for low-volume and custom-engineered products. It is the latest development in lean manufacturing where companies have progressed from the just-in-time (JIT) methodologies of the 1970’s.  Aztalan has adopted this practice by taking steps to stay ahead of the competition to ensure continued quality customer service along with the best product output around.

Implementing QRM requires the entire organization understand its role in this vital process. In addition, both management and employees should fully understand and support the manufacturing systems in place, especially those that affect lead times. QRM reduces both external and internal lead times: the internal aspect focuses on reducing lead times for all tasks within the organization, such as the time to approve an engineering change; reducing external lead times means rapidly designing and manufacturing products for specific customer needs. Reducing these lead times results not only in quick response, but also in lower cost and improved quality. It has been shown that companies that use QRM have reduced their lead times by 80 to 90 percent.

The QRM Strategy Four Core Concepts:

    1. Realizing the Power of Time. Lead time is much more important than most managers realize. Long lead times create many organizational costs — much more than just work-in-process (WIP) and finished goods. While using QRM, enterprise-wide costs were reduced by 20 to 30 percent.
    2. Rethinking Organization Structure. QRM transforms traditional functional departments into an organization consisting of “QRM Cells”. Although the cell concept has been known for some time, QRM Cells are more flexible (for high variety), more holistic (greater ownership by employees), and apply outside the shop floor too.
    3. Exploiting System Dynamics. By getting managers to understand how capacity, batch sizes, and other factors impact lead times, QRM enables them to make improved decisions. QRM shows that the cost of additional machine/labor capacity is more than recovered by reduced costs of planning, expediting, inventory, and the other costs of long lead times.
    4. Implementing a Unified Strategy Enterprise-wide. QRM is not just a shop floor approach; it is applied throughout the enterprise, including office operations and supply chain.

To learn more about Aztalan’s QRM process and the benefits of working with Aztalan, call 920.648.3411 and speak with a sales representative today.


  1. Quick Response Manufacturing: A Companywide Approach to Reducing Lead Times (Productivity Press, 1998). It’s About Time: The Competitive Advantage of Quick Response Manufacturing (Productivity Press, 2010). By Dr. Rajan Suri
  2. Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) by Martin Murray