Chapter 11 Operations Management in Manufacturing and Service Industries
The Challenge: Producing Quality Jetboards
The product development process can be complex and lengthy. It took sixteen years for Bob Montgomery and others at his company to develop the PowerSki Jetboard, and this involved thousands of design changes. It seemed worth it: the Jetboard, an exciting, engine-propelled personal watercraft that’s a cross between a high-performance surfboard and a competition water-ski/wakeboard, received extensive media attention and earned rave reviews. It was showered with honors, including Time magazine’s “Best Invention of the Year” award. Stories about the Jetboard appeared in more than fifty magazines around the world, and it appeared in several movies, in over twenty-five TV shows, and on YouTube.Jetboard, http;//www,jetboard.com (accessed October 19, 2011); Liquid Blue Features PowerSki Jetboards, YouTube video, 6:50, posted by “powerskijetboard,” March 13, 2008, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyfIXBxC0_A (accessed November 1, 2011); Jetboard, “Publicity,” http://jetboard.com/marketingpublicity.html (accessed November 1, 2011). One reviewer of the Jetboard exclaimed, “Up, up and away. PowerSki's the closest you'll get to being Superman on the water. With 40 hp under your toes, the 100-pound board literally flies. You supply the cape.”Cliff Gromer, “PowerSki Jetboard,” Popular Mechanics, March 2000, http://www.popularmechanics.com/outdoors/adventures/1277611.html (accessed June 1, 2008).
Montgomery and his team at PowerSki enjoyed taking their well-deserved bows for the job they did designing the product. But having a product was only the beginning for the company. The next step was developing a system that would produce high-quality Jetboards at reasonable prices. Before putting this system in place, PowerSki managers had to address several questions: What kind of production process should they use to make the Jetboards? How large should their production facilities be, and where should they be located? How should the plant be laid out? Should every component be made in-house, or should some be furnished by subcontractors? Where should they buy the materials they needed to build Jetboards? What systems would they need to ensure that production was as efficient as possible and that quality standards were maintained? Answering these questions helped PowerSki set up a manufacturing system through which it could accomplish the most important task that it had set for itself: efficiently producing quality Jetboards.