Original Date: 10/04/1993
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Continuous Flow Manufacturing
When Hamilton Standard Electronic Manufacturing Center (HSEMC) introduced continuous flow manufacturing (CFM) into its production line, it eliminated many problems such as a push system versus pull system. Production bottlenecks were also hidden by the large amount of work-in-process (WIP), and inventory levels far exceeded customer demands. Substantial rework was performed; products traveled long distances in the process; many processes were non-value added, and the cycle time through the process was excessive.
The most important step in Hamilton Standard's CFM improvement process was to obtain the total involvement of all associates from the director level to assembly associates. Three teams were organized with communication linkages provided by team leaders serving on the next level team. The Steering Committee was chaired by the General Manager, and the Sector Support Team Leader was a member of the Steering Committee. The Implementation Team Leader was a member of the Sector Support Team. Each team meets weekly to discuss quality and product flow. They discuss production requirements and what the team needs to do to meet them. The processes are flow-charted and non-value added functions eliminated or reduced. Setup time reductions are made to the processes.
Training in CFM techniques is provided to everyone at the Electronic Manufacturing Facility. True customer demand is identified and work is scheduled accordingly. Daily and weekly production scheduling, called TAKT Boards, are implemented in each of the work cells to provide visibility to the production requirements. The TAKT Boards shows the daily and weekly production schedule, WIP, completed product, cycle time, and easily identified bottlenecks in the process.
A Kanban system was implemented for WIP so that only the amount necessary to meet delivery schedules is allowed on the floor. With the Kanban system, problems are not masked by large quantities of WIP and the root cause of problems has to be addressed and corrected immediately. Operators are certified to inspect their own work with periodic audits by quality to ensure that quality standards are being maintained.
Point-of-use storage is implemented on the floor with a Kanban system. Only the necessary assets to support the production schedule are allowed, and components are stored in cabinets on the production floor. First-in/first-out inventory rotation is maintained using a two bin system. The active bag has components pulled from it until it is depleted. The bar code label on the bag is then scanned and a new label printed in the finished stores, triggering the issue of another bag of material to the floor. The next implemented step is the Supplier Point-of-Use (SPOU) where the vendor delivers parts as needed directly to the manufacturing area.
Problems are now identified as to the root cause and solved rather than band-aided. Unnecessary processing and motion have been minimized, and the number of steps to produce an analog driver card has been reduced from 84 to 58. One product now travels 1.5 miles instead of the 12.5 miles before CFM. Manufacturing is now based on a pull system, allowing associates to concentrate on building what is needed rather than building inventory. The factory cycle time has been reduced from 8.6 months to 2.9 months and lot sizes are now one to five versus 15 to 20 before CFM. The pull time for a work order in finished stores is now 24 hours compared to two weeks under the prior system.
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