There are many causes for inefficient and inadequate production: Changes in unit numbers, the product spectrum, the gradual emergence of rigid but now obsolete structures and many more. Ultimately this leads to high inventories, extended throughput times, excessive delivery periods and permanent rescheduling of ongoing production. The implementation and consistent application of lean production principles can help to achieve fundamental optimisation and continuous improvements. Our project experience has shown that production strategies in planning and control that are adapted to the material flow – for instance the introduction of a pull system – can significantly affect process efficiency. The interface between production and logistics, especially in material supply and replenishment control, is another integrative building block on the way to efficient production within an excellent factory.
A production network comprising final assembly, pre-assembly and various manufacturing areas is characterised by heterogeneous conditions in regard to productivity (OEE), capacities, increasing variance and customer-specific requirements. In most cases this will lead to long throughput times that are caused in particular by idle time between the production units, significant inventory of semi-finished products (WIP) and unnecessary handling steps within the logistics The solution is to introduce pull control and other control principles within lean production. They allow synchronised control of final assembly in accordance with customer wishes and hence compensate for high variance and short-term fluctuations in requirements. Upstream pre-assembly and part deliveries are controlled by a pull system, for instance Kanban and supermarket function. Levelled production should be introduced in order to ensure optimum utilisation of system capacities in areas of manufacturing that affect productivity (e.g. machining, thermal treatment, painting). One of the ways of achieving this is through Heijunka control, which purposely levels workloads from upstream Kanban control and elsewhere, before assigning them to system capacities. Suitable IT applications are used to support these control principles.
Detailed and profound value stream analysis delivers a good first impression of weaknesses and optimisation potential in the flow of material and information. Simultaneous implementation of ABC/XYZ classification and the analysis of master and dynamic data create transparency in regard to volumes and workloads in pre- and final assembly zones. Restructuring can be used to introduce segmentation, e.g. into fast sellers and exotic products, that modifies the arrangement of the factory layout to suit the material flow. Introduction of flow manufacturing is another established method if sufficient unit numbers and value added content are in demand. Experience has shown that the allocation of assembly volumes per cycle, the number of assembly stations (cycles), the length of lines, the layout of workstations per cycle and the synchronisation of pre-assembly are challenging planning tasks. Then there is the suitable line-side presentation of material to support minimised workload assembly, for instance using preconfigured sets and push-through rack storage for small parts. The production of suitable layout variants is the final step in the planning task. Our project experience has shown that an entire package of planning tasks is necessary in order to achieve a state of excellence, but also that expertise acquired in other industries can easily be adapted. Here, for instance, we have already translated solution methodologies from the automotive industry for use in medical technology or mechanical engineering.
We analyse your company and help you to optimise and design your production and assembly zones. The application of lean production philosophy allows us to support you in multiple ways. We help you to realise efficient production and assembly with minimal throughput times. In this regard, we focus on lean value added processes, irrespective of whether they relate to individual workstations, production and assembly lines or production planning and control (PPC).