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Scrum: Potential Applications in Flexible Manufacturing

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Scrum: Potential Applications in Flexible Manufacturing

MECH 6335-001 / OPRE 6340-001

University of Texas at Dallas – December, 2015

Campos de Castro Ferreira, Leticia; Dharmadhikari, Manish Krishnarao; Jain, Prakhar Kumar; Juneja,

Shivang; Patel, Savankumar Maheshbhai

[pic 1]


Scrum was first introduced in 1995, by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, as a framework for agile software development, although its principles and ideas are deeply rooted in best practices of some leading manufacturing companies, developed and published more than 30 years ago. This paper will briefly present Scrum, comparing and/or correlating it to some modern methodologies already applied to manufacturing, and suggesting its application as a potential contribution for successful implementation and further development of Flexible Manufacturing Systems.  Keywords – Scrum, agile, waterfall, flexible manufacturing, lean, Quality Function Deployment, Seru production.

1. Introduction

On top of high quality and low cost, rapid responsiveness to new market demands is a key for success in an increasingly competitive environment, and a major reason for a growing number of companies to adopt a flexible manufacturing strategy.  On the other hand, the high upfront costs of Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS) and their implementation complexity are some of the barriers for more enterprises to take this path. A possible way for overcoming FMS adoption obstacles include, from product manufacturers’ perspective, a better understanding on how to take the most from its capabilities, in particular, how to more quickly develop new products that better meet their customers’ needs.  Similarly, FMS suppliers could increase their market penetration by better customizing their solutions to specific manufacturing application needs, or by faster developing reconfigurable manufacturing systems.  

Scrum was first introduced in 1995, by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, as a framework for agile software development, although its principles are deeply rooted in best practices of leading manufacturing companies, such as Taiichi Ono’s Toyota Production System, and other ones presented by

Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in their article “The New New Product Development Game”, in 1986. These Japanese researchers were the first ones to use the term “scrum” (a typical formation in rugby in which team members unite their arms to gain or keep control of the ball) to describe the way companies should work to develop new products, in opposition to a traditional approach (with individuals or departments working separately, in a sequential way, similar to a relay race).  Cross-functional, selforganized teams, working with a high sense of purpose, and learning from each other, were pointed as common elements favoring innovation and speed in companies such as 3M, Fuji-Xerox, Canon, Honda,

Hewlett-Packard and others. Some of the concepts related to Quality Function Deployment (QFD) and Seru production systems, for instance, can also be identified in the Scrum framework, as we are going to demonstrate. More recently, in 2001, Sutherland and Schwaber, with other global leaders in software development, created and signed what became known as the Agile Manifesto, a set of values that should guide developers through improved cooperation ways.  

The Agile Manifesto

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

Kent Beck

Mike Beedle

Arie van Bennekum

Alistair Cockburn

Ward Cunningham

Martin Fowler

James Grenning

Jim Highsmith

Andrew Hunt

Ron Jeffries

Jon Kern

Brian Marick

Robert C. Martin

Steve Mellor

Ken Schwaber

Jeff Sutherland

Dave Thomas

Due to its flexibility and simplicity, Scrum is the most applied framework for agile software development, and could be more correctly defined as a way of organizing and motivating teams than as a project management methodology. It was intended to help people to work together in a simple, fast-flowing way.  

2. How does Scrum work?

The key components of Scrum framework are:  

  1. Roles: Product Owner, Scrum Master and Team Members;
  2. Artifacts: Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog and Scrum Board, and
  3. Ceremonies: Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum and Sprint Review.

A Scrum team is usually a small (3 to 9 members), cross-functional group of skilled people, united by a sense of purpose that comes from a clear vision of what the customers want, as understood, prioritized and communicated by the Product Owner. The customer requirements are presented in a format of “user stories”, that help the Team understand who they are developing a solution for, as well as what do the users want, and what for. The customers’ requirements are listed and ranked in what is called the Product Backlog. The development is planned in order to deliver a potentially shippable product by the end of every short development cycle, called, a Sprint (usually limited to 2- to 4-week duration). At the beginning of each Sprint, the whole Scrum group discusses and defines which features are going to be developed in that cycle. This is called Sprint Planning, and its outcome is the Sprint Backlog. Every day, the Scrum group has a 15-min stand-up meeting for each member to share advances and issues, so to make course correction (Daily Scrum). By the end of each short cycle, a Sprint Review meeting takes place: a finished product is demonstrated, team receives feedback, and the group evaluates the collaboration process itself. As a result, both the developed product and the Team can keep evolving. All the information is visible, to whom it may concern, on an easy-to-follow Scrum Board. Written on sticky notes, the user stories are translated into product features and corresponding tasks, which are placed on different columns of the Scrum Board (To Do, Doing, Done).  A Scrum Master is a facilitator for the Team to use the artifacts and run the ceremonies in an effective and continuously improving way. His/Her mission is to keep the rhythm, morale and focus of the Team.  



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