Charles L Caristan, PhD
A comprehensive approach to productivity helps avoid traditional pitfalls that can lead to costly management choices in procurement of equipment and costly operator choices in cutting-parameter setup. Productivity encompasses more than just processing speed. Setup, maintenance, and repair account for a substantial part of actual cycle time. Just-in-time (JIT) production and lean manufacturing with a minimum inventory of raw material, work-in-process, and finished goods have changed the strategy from high-speed operations with dedicated tooling to highly flexible operations with minimal waste. More product variety requires more engineering variations, which require fast turnaround and flexibility.
A manufacturing enterprise must be prepared for shorter product cycles and the multitude of varieties within a product line. This forces an emphasis on JIT delivery, lower inventory, and lean manufacturing with fully integrated cells. When optimized, lean-manufacturing cell integration invariably leads to less waste and more compatible cycle times between cells. The flexibility of a laser-cutting system makes it suitable to small batches and high diversity of part numbers. Comparing a laser-cutting operation and a traditional punch press cutting operation for sheet metal, such as that used extensively in the electronics industry, reveals the tool-less setup downtime advantage of laser cutting. Total productive maintenance (TPM) is a discipline geared toward maximizing manufacturing effectiveness. The aim is to maximize the synergies between operations and maintenance for an overall increase in productivity and profitability, by reducing waste and increasing capacity utilization.
By Gary Conner
By George N Bullen FSME