Strategic Capacity Management – Operations Management Review Notes

Capacity is the ability to hold, receive, store, or accommodate. In a business sense, it is viewed as the amount of output that a system is capable of achieving over a specific period of time.

Strategic capacity planning has as its objective, to determine the overall capacity level of capital-intensive resources – facilities, equipment, and overall labor force size – that best supports the company’s long-range competitive strategy.

Economies of scale, experience curve and capacity flexibility are important issues or concepts that are to be incorporated into capacity decision making. The capacity level selected determines a company’s cost structure, competitive position and management and staff support requirements. If capacity is inadequate competitors can easily enter the business. If capacity is excessive, utilization becomes poor and costs will be higher than the expected costs.

Capacity Planning Concepts

Best operating level
The best operating level of a plant is the production volume at which average cost is the lowest. Companies try to operate close to this point. If demand is consistently higher than the best operating level, then they increase the capacity to lower the cost close to the best operating level cost.

Economies of scale
This concept signifies that as production volumes increase, the average cost per unit decreases. Higher capacity plants have a lower production cost compared to lesser capacity plants.

The experience curve
As plants produce more units, they gain experience in their production methods, which in turn, results in reducing the per unit costs of production in a predictable manner.

Capacity focus

The concept of focused factory states that it is more effective to have different plants for products with significant difference in specifications especially in terms of performance specifications.

Capacity flexibility

Capacity flexibility means having the ability to rapidly increase or decrease production levels or to shift production capacity quickly from one product or service to another. Such flexibility is achieved through flexible plants, processes, and workers, as well as through strategies that use the capacity of other operations.

Issues to be considered in adding capacity include maintaining system balance, frequency of capacity additions, and the use of external capacity. Capacity strategies can be proactive, neutral, and reactive. Reactive and neutral strategies are not responsive to anticipating future growth or building a facility for future demand.

Determining Capacity Requirements

Capacity planning decisions are based on forecasts for product demand, labor requirements, and equipment requirements.

Typical Steps

1. Predict sales for individual products within each product line using forecasting techniques.

2. Calculate equipment and labor requirements to meet product line forecasts.

3. Project labor and equipment availabilities over the planning horizon.

Decisions include whether to add capacity, determining capacity requirements, and planning service capacity throughout the product life-cycle stages.

Toyota production system operates on the concept of flexibility by being ready to increase production whenever required by employing temporary workers and overtime. It works for only two shifts normally and when required uses overtime to operate for eight extra hours.

Chapter Outline of
Richard B. Chase, F. Robert Jacobs, Nicholas J. Aquilano, Operations Management for Competitive Advantage, 10/e, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2004

Capacity Management in Operations
Capacity Planning Concepts
Economies and Diseconomies of Scale
The Experience Curve
Where Economies of Scale Meet the Experience Curve
Capacity Focus
Capacity Flexibility
Capacity Planning
Considerations in Adding Capacity
Determining Capacity Requirements
Using Decision Trees to Evaluate Capacity Alternatives
Planning Service Capacity
Capacity Planning in Service Versus Manufacturing
Capacity Utilization and Service Quality

Case: Shouldice Hospital – A Cut Above


Richard B. Chase, F. Robert Jacobs, Nicholas J. Aquilano, Operations Management for Competitive Advantage, 10/e, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2004   chapter10/

Originally posted in  449

Updated on  9 June 2019,  7.12.2014, 10.12.2011

MBA Core Management Knowledge – One Year Revision Schedule