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April 04, 2009

Operations Management Lesson 2 Exercise

Process type choices, performance objectives and layout decisions for zinc manufacturing and IT security consulting.

For this reflective online learning I have chosen process in Zinc manufacturing and IT security consulting.

Introduction: Zinc Manufacturing Process

Zinc manufacturing is based largely on chemical and electronic processing of raw material. The process starts from crushing raw material, ore. After crashing, it is burned in high airflow ovens to chance its chemical characteristics. After this resulting zinc concentrating powder is dissolved. Solution is then handled in various chemical processes to remove unwanted chemical compounds and metals. Final solution, containing in practise only water and zinc is brought to electrolysis, where zinc is gathered using strong electronics current to anodes. From these zinc is gathered mechanically and melted into bars. The zinc manufacturing processes are having high volume and very low variety.

Process Type of Zinc Manufacturing:  

The process type in zinc manufacturing is continuous process type. Production needs large investments into production facilities. Large quantities of zinc are produced continuously and all parts of the process are conducted continuously at the same time. Process is very standardised and in normal operations there is in practise no variance in production methods. Zinc is produced in endless flow 24/7.

Key Performance Objectives

The most important performance objectives for the zinc manufacturing process are the quality and the cost objectives. Quality of the product (measured as percentage of purity of final product, for example 99.999%) is crucial for the customers as well as price, which are following international market prices of materials. Because prices are fluctuating under various market pressures, costs should be optimized to insure suitable product price level. Third performance objective is dependability, which is taken care by suitable warehousing based on zinc’s mid term market volume predictions.

Layout Decision

The layout chosen for the zinc manufacturing is the fixed position. Production facilities are large entities needing huge overhead investments. Also process phases are having strong relation between each other and separation of them is not viable in a sense of economies of scale and streamlined production process. Also each work item in process is conducted in predetermined position without possibility of variation without production break.

4Vs diagram for the zinc manufacturing process

As mention above zinc manufacturing processes are having high volume and very low variety. There is some variation in demand based on zinc’s market price fluctuations (less production if price is beyond optimal range) or in customer demand. These are, however, quite narrow from their scope and usually within predictable scope. Adjustments for demand vacation happen by adjusting speed of production process flow, which has limited and well-known limits for speeding up or slowing down the production process. Visibilityis slow due to time lag between production and consumption and low customer contacting. Zinc is commodity product, which is bought based on quality characteristics and price and interaction between seller and customer is usually minimal.


Figure 1. 4V diagram for zinc manufacturing process.

Introduction: IT Security Consulting

IT security consulting processes are addressing various security issues in customers IT infrastructure either for their own usage or for service they offer their own clients. Offered services consist of general security consultation of customer specific issues, project related work and various kinds of certifications that are required by various international and national security organizations. Typical engagements are relatively small and in many cases regulated by various security standards. These factors make IT security consulting processes consisting of low volume and a bit over medium level of variety.

Process Type of IT Security Consulting

IT security consulting is professional service process by its type. Consulting company will provide highly skilled service deliverables to client. Typically deliverables takes place as subproject in a larger customer project, which is having some parts related to IT security issues. Each engagement has its own typical characteristics and earlier experiences have be applied to each case through thorough understanding of customer situation. Deliverables have high dependability of the IT security consultant’s skills, knowledge and experience. Also some services cannot be delivered without right kind of certifications and accreditations.

Key Performance Objectives

The most important performance objectives for the IT security consulting process are the quality, flexibility and the visibility objectives. Quality of deliverables in security business is of crucial for customer acceptance. Security service sales are also having very high customer visibility. Usually services provided to customers are produced in close contact with customer and customer’s trust of consultant plays an important role during the whole process. Flexibility is important, because in typical service engagements potential new issues will emerge in most cases. When this happens it is important that IT security consultant can accommodate herself to situation in fast manner without major breaks in service production,

Layout Decision

The layout chosen for the IT security consulting can be understood in two different ways. On the other hand it can be understood to be cellular layout. The consultants are categorized by their specialty or expertise areas (Intrusion detection, intrusion prevention, payment security, email filtering etc.) and in addition according to sector they are working for (industry, finance, distribution…). These skills have to be taken into account when considering right people for each assignment.

On the other hand process type can be conceived to be a fixed position layout. In typically engagements IT security consultants go to the customer premises and collect data there.

In this case, however, key layout type to be applied would be cellular one due to several reasons: IT security consultation tries to combine best characteristics of both product and process based service layout types (consultation engagements are aspiring suitable level of productization and processes adherence is important for the quality controls). Also consultation portfolio is divided into families sharing common processes and expertise.

4Vs Diagram for the IT Security Consulting Process

IT security consultation has low volume and a bit over medium level of variety. There is medium variation in demand based on economic situation (cost freezes) and new security threats or incidents, which increase activities in IT security consultation. Visibility is high due to conduction of work in close contact with customers and customer’s trust of consultant plays, which is important factor in consultation engagements. IT security consultation is speciality product, which is bought based on providers and its personnel credibility and demonstrated knowledge in subject area.


Figure 2. 4V diagram for IT security consulting process.