Batch and queue is the hallmark of a mass production system. Parts are processed, moved in large quantities to the next process, wait for their turn, are processed, and moved as a batch to the next process.
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Here’s something you can cut out and hang on your bulletin board if you run a manufacturing company, large or small. I’ve spent nearly 60 years thinking about the factory floor, and here’s how I believe it should be run.
Process improvement encompasses a wide range of tools, techniques and strategies. When properly deployed, shop-floor data collection and monitoring systems can help factory-floor managers leverage key data metrics including overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and total effective equipment performance (TEEP) that measure machine uptime and pinpoint bottlenecks or other problems in order to improve machining performance.
Dunnage used to ship and process automotive parts on the shop floor is a key component in the overall manufacturing process, yet it is often overlooked when companies are working to make lines lean and green. Today, it is important that manufacturers know that most dunnage used to transport parts from start to finish can be reused for the lifetime of production.
Waste isn’t to be found only in a company’s operations and manufacturing activities. It can be a drag on innovation in the R&D department as well. As businesses in every sector make their way through an uncertain economy, launching new products that deliver value to customers and create new revenue streams is a critical but difficult task.
If you have never heard the term Yokoten, prepare yourself. It has been added to the Lean Operations lexicon as an important activity. Yokoten is being used by lean firms to help them become leaner. Yokoten is a Japanese term that can be roughly translated as “across everywhere.”
Earlier this year, at the 21st annual Shingo Prize conference awards ceremony, Autoliv Americas’ airbag module facility in Ogden, UT, was awarded The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence. This was the second Shingo Prize won by the Autoliv Ogden Airbag Assembly (AOA) plant.
Lean manufacturing principles and automation systems can coexist, although many lean purists contend that lean goals conflict with using automation. Smart applications of automation, however, can result in deployment of systems that are both automated and lean, with flexible manufacturing systems that can be easily reconfigured as factory operations change.
Taiichi Ohno is often quoted as declaring: “Without a standard, there can be no improvement.” The principles of lean do not work well when everyone is allowed to choose their own work method or work sequence in which to do a job: the outcome is unpredictable; flow and pull are impossible. This reduces throughput and the carefully crafted process develops unanticipated outcomes.
A subsidiary of HNI Corp. (Mustacine, IA), the second-largest manufacturer of office furniture in North America, Hearth & Home Technologies (HHT; Mt. Pleasant, IA) manufactures sheetmetal fireplaces (both wood and gas-burning), vent pipe, and fireplace accessories. The company has four manufacturing facilities.