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Rowan Gregory

ROLE: Chief Designer

In a few minutes, you will be attending a meeting of a working group chaired by Alex Rheingold (your MD) to discuss the possible adoption of an MRP2 system in Oakland. The initial meeting will be followed by a consultant's presentation and then a final meeting to take a decision.

As an ambitious designer, you are keen to make a name for yourself in the industry. You would like to challenge the quality image of Scandinavian design with a distinctive English "Oakland Style". You want to create successful, established ranges, with new product introductions within these ranges. This contrasts with the current policy of continual turnover of several ranges a year and a more or less standard range of products within each range. You are also very keen on bespoke opportunities. Indeed the company has established quite a reputation in this respect, mainly thanks to your efforts. New technology is a great thing in general. The CAD system in the Design shop is brilliant. But will an MRP system restrict your scope for refining designs? Will it force the company even more down a standards route? You become involved in the management buy-out to increase creative scope, not diminish it.

You were the main driver behind the recent investment in a new computer controlled panel machining centre. Indeed, it incorporated quite a few of your own ideas. As a result, you were able to get special terms from the German machine tool firm which developed the machine. This automated machine greatly facilitates the production of high quality, complex (and ornate) designs of panels, surfaces and doors. It was also very flexible: once the complicated programmes had been developed, machine set up time was quite fast, involving only the setting of the appropriate loading and unloading arrangements and checking of tool wear as necessary.

The acquisition of this machine is an essential part of your longer term plans for CAD/CAM. Unfortunately these benefits had not yet shown up clearly, as they could only come to the fore with smaller jobs than Oakland's were currently running. This had led to a difference of opinion with the Financial Director, Chris Duncan. Duncan had no imagination and had made no secret of his opinion that you were indulging yourself with expensive and useless toys.