Product Assembly & Manufacturing

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Bagby Copy Company is a worldwide producer of copy machines. It manufactures 10 different copiers, ranging from low-end desktop copiers that sell for a few hundred dollars to high-volume document machines that retail for over $200,000. Each copy machine requires a wiring bundle. Each bundle contains several hundred wires and connectors that provide circuits connecting the paper-flow units, scanners, and photoreceptor to the internal computer logic. The wire harness is plugged into various components during the assembly process. It is possible to assign each major task in this process to different employees. There are a group of employees that are assigned individual tasks to produce a wire harness for a particular copier. In total, there are 10 subgroups of wire harness makers. One alternative is to place all 10 groups in one wire harness department. Another alternative is that each of these 10 subgroups can be assigned to and report to a manager responsible for a particular copier. Bagby operates in five European countries. Currently, it has separate subunits in each country, where a country manager handles the manufacturing and marketing of all 10 copiers. The company is considering two alternatives. One would organize its foreign operations around products. And the other is considering a matrix organization, organized around product and country (Brickley, Smith & Zimmerman, 2009, p. 359).

Bagby faces tradeoffs between specialized and broad task assignments when it comes to product assembly. The company could focus its attention to harness the power of specialized operations on individual tasks. Each specialized task assignment would focus on specific product assembly and functionality. Or a broader task assignment geared toward a diverse set of assembly skills amongst its employees. A specialized task force would include expert attention to detail amongst the assembly of its products. But would also include marginal room for error based on repetition within its assembly line (no rotation). A broad task force would work well for productivity due to the rotation of individual assembly. But would include marginal room for error based on the misunderstanding of assembly without specialized knowledge. If the tradeoff is to include subgroups within each assembly, you will find more area of expertise and precision within each department. Shared information and resources will fill the department and increase the overall performance, employee communication, and focus of that department. The one down fall of such a subgroup would be the external understanding from other departments as to the functionality of the harness itself. If Bagby decides to distribute manufacturing responsibilities to individual countries based on product, you may see a fluctuating cause for concern. The law of supply and demand dictates the manufacturing of products in quantity. The products vary in price discrepancies, and reach a totally different market venue. A low demand for one product will result in less manufacturing of that same product and will result in either less manufacturing hours for its employees or cut backs in the amount of employees hired. The idea of each product being specific to one country is an excellent idea. The costs should be easily justified and resources for that product, such as support, could better help customer services.


Brickley, J., Smith, C., & Zimmerman, J. (2009). Managerial Economics & Organizational Architecture. (5th ed., p. 38). New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.