Additional Approaches for Integrating Manufacturing and Services
Demonstration of Knowledge and Expertise
Dick Chase and Dave Gavin point out that firms can achieve a competitive advantage by demonstrating their technical knowledge and expertise in the production process By showing customers all of the various steps involved in the production process and how quality is ensured at each of these steps customers obtain a certain level of comfort especially when the specific details of the inner workings of the product itself are difficult to comprehend. as is often the case with sophisticated
In addition as customers tour the manufacturing facility they can be introduced to new products and options for existing ones Incorporate in Hopkins Massachusetts a leading manufacturer of electronic storage equipment understands these benefits of providing plant tours to potential as well as existing customers As a result then conduct more than 1,000 tours a year at their manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts Visitors canon help but be impressed by the great length their products at each stage of the process ensuring that a highly reliable product is shipped to its customers. Employees are
also readily available throughout the plant to answer any questions. According to Gordon Nichols. a senior manager at ENC. the plant tours are very successful with more than 90 percent of the potential customers buying ENC products. and. often. they buy more than they had initially planned.
For similar reasons. the Foxboro Company a leading producer of process control equipment. also encourages both customers and potential customers alike to visit their manufacturing facilities in Foxboro. Massachusetts. As visitors enter the manufacturing facility they are greeted with a display showing the various awards that Foxboro has won through the years including the Shinto Prize the Massachusetts' Quality Award and Industry Week's Plant of the Year Award. During the tours of the manufacturing processes employees will often take time from their work to talk to visitors about specific projects they have worked on to improve the quality of the product and/or to make the processes more efficient These employee presentations again reinforce knowledge and skill about the processes and products.
The benefits' of demonstrating knowledge and expertise are not limited to only higher technology products. Green Giant of Minneapolis Minnesota which produces a wide variety of high-quality canned and frozen-food products had difficulty penetrating the Japanese markets with their products. Only after they invited Japanese food distributors to visit their
production facilities in Minnesota where they were able to show the quality of both their processes and the resulting products were they able to succeed in doing business in Japan. 16