Why QRM4.0 makes manufacturing companies more competitive

QRM helps companies prosper in a fast-changing world by drastically reducing lead times. QRM4.0 helps local SMEs apply this approach by introducing digital tools and advising on changes in the production process and in human resources. This video and news article explain why manufacturing companies need to adopt Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) and how QRM4.0 can support them.

Pascal Pollet, QRM project leader, on QRM and QRM4.0:

We live in a VUCA world

After the cold war ended, after 09-11 and now, during the COVID19 pandemic, people have mentioned we live in a VUCA world. It’s an acronym to describe the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity that are at play in the economy. Although companies want to prepare for future situations, nobody knows what is going to happen in the upcoming months. What will the impact of the crisis be? Will demand for their products and services strongly increase or decrease? It seems both are equally likely to happen and it makes it very difficult for them to choose a strategic direction.

How can SMEs (small and medium-sized companies) stay competitive in a VUCA world?

1. Act on your vision: if you want to become the fastest metal-processor so you’ll be able to improve the quality of as many metal consumer products, than act on that.

2. Deepen your understanding of the situation: what is happening and which trends can you spot?

3. Clarify what is important: to accomplish your vision, which single thing would make the most impact?

4. Be agile: change your method of working so you’ll be more able to react quicker to changes

Manufacturing companies: trends and the solution

One of the biggest problems that manufacturing companies face became painfully clear during COVID19 situation. Consumers expect and demand fast delivery. But the linear way in which companies are dependent on each other in the value chain and work in the assembly lines, cause long delays. Companies try to tackle this issue and cut cost by working faster and harder, but this is absolutely not the best way for them to become more efficient. You see, the actual time that they spend on fulfilling an order is very much shorter than the total lead time (duration from receiving the order until the first piece of that order is delivered to the customer). In the image, you can see that working on the processing waiting time (the white part) will significantly be more effective than working on actual processing time (the grey part). That’s why companies need to shift their thinking from a focus on lowering costs to focusing on shortening time through better collaboration.

Slashing lead times

What is done wrong? How can companies shorten lead times? 

  1. Organizational silos limit cooperation. The standard departmental structure is of a manager assigning tasks and supporting team members in executing their tasks. As a direct result, there is no or bad interdepartmental communication. The solution to this is to create an organizational structure that will enable collaboration. For instance in smaller interdepartmental teams centered around a specific market segment or product. 
  2. Organizational complexity. In a company with several management levels, work needs to be checked and rechecked, and there are a lot of emails and meetings. You can solve this by changing structures and simplifying processes.


By providing digital tools to people on the floor, you can use “industry 4.0” to slash waiting times. Think of

  • Tools that give direct access to planning or technical information.
  • Collaboration tools
  • Tools to support cross-functionality in teams (instructive and training tools)
  • Direct information exchange between companies (EDI)


What is quick response manufacturing?

According to Wikipedia, quick response manufacturing (QRM) is “an approach to manufacturing which emphasizes the beneficial effect of reducing internal and external lead times. Shorter lead times improve quality, reduce cost and eliminate non-value-added waste within the organization while simultaneously increasing the organization’s competitiveness and market share by serving customers better and faster.”

We think of QRM as a people-oriented process innovation.

What is QRM4.0 and why is it helpful?

QRM4.0 is a collaborative project to help small and medium-sized manufacturing companies (manufacturing SMEs) from the Meuse-Rhine Euroregio adopt a company-wide growth strategy focused on lead time reduction. This strategy enables them to prosper in a fast changing world. QRM4.0 uses modern digital tools to support teams to collaborate better.

Let’s repeat that in other words, the goal is to make these local manufacturing SMEs more competitive by aiding them to implement human-centered process innovation and innovative digital technologies on their shop floor to drastically reduce their lead times.


How QRM4.0 can support your company

The project partners will enable you to survive the VUCA world and make your company more competitive, by offering inspiration, information, training, coaching and support. It also allows your company to network with IT partners and other manufacturing companies, so you can keep on learning from each other after the project is finished in 2022.

QRM4.0 offers you 

  • 8 company visits to SMEs that have already implemented QRM4.0
  • 10 testimonials of companies that have already implemented QRM4.0 successfully
  • 3 demonstrations by IT partners Technifutur, Zuyd Hogeschool, Sirris new technologies to slash waiting times and lead times. 
  • 4 bootcamps 
  • 8 workshops
  • 4 learning networks
  • Individual support and coaching
  • A grant of 8.000 to invest in new technologies, offered through a voucher system

Please revisit this website, or follow the project on LinkedIn or Twitter to stay up-to-date on project details, event calendar, training dates, etcetera.

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