Platinum Ear Technology Platinum Ear Technology is a stereo component manufacturer in Maryland that specializes in stereo speakers for audiophiles. Its product are sold through exclusive arrangement with specialty outlets such as Grammophone ® which has 3 outlets in the state. Among its product list is a full line of tower (floor standing) speakers. These range from entry level models that sell for roughly $750 each to their Reference series which sells for $5,000 each. Currently, most models are produced in small batches of 5 at a time. The production process consists of 7 steps. At each step, 1 worker produces a batch of 5 units and delivers them to the next step in the line. The workers are arranged in a U-shaped configuration that keeps them in close proximity to each other to minimize travel time. The batches are held to a size of 5 to reduce the levels of Work-in-process inventory. When quality issues arise, the workers come together as a team to find a solution. On the other hand, the Reference Series refers to the firm’s top of the line products. These are made one at a time by a master craftsman. One worker assembles the unit from start to finish. The worker picks parts from a storage area, assembles the unit, and places it in a holding area where it is inspected before moving on to a packaging area. If an issue arises during inspection, the unit is returned to the craftsman with instructions to address the problem. In 2020 concerns were raised about how social distancing would be implemented within the production facility. Since the craftsman-based approach makes it much easier to implement distancing guidelines, one suggestion is that production of all products be moved to this production model. 1. Assume the role of plant manager in this scenario.

Write a short memo (less than 1 page) with your recommendation regarding this proposal. Senior management has concerns about production costs, worker safety, the impact on product innovation, inventory management, quality, and the firm’s relationships with its retailers.

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