Original Date: 03/06/2006
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Information : Cellular Manufacturing – Agile Factory
Raytheon Missile Systems’ Louisville facility has achieved a modular, agile, reconfigurable factory through the implementation of lean manufacturing. The benefits realized include flexibility, increased safety, reduced cycle times, and improved efficiency.
Raytheon Missile Systems’ Louisville facility was typical of a manufacturing facility that has evolved over the years. Factory floor changes reflected priorities that changed and changes that did not always consider larger operational issues. The culture accepted monuments, which the Louisville facility defines as an “immovable object.” Processes and people worked around the barriers that restricted the flexibility to change the processes. Barriers and the lack of flexibility created difficulties for material storage and handling as well as poor relations with internal customers that are common to this culture.
The vision of Raytheon Missile Systems’ management at the Louisville facility required a change to the state of the factory floor. Management decided to create a modular, agile, reconfigurable factory through the implementation of lean manufacturing concepts using Raytheon Six Sigma™ (R6σ), the Manufacturing Excellence Model (MEM), value stream mapping (VSM), and Kaizen events. The scope was not limited and included the entire factory. The desired Takt time was one week. While the idea of work cells was not new to the plant, the idea of the work cell centered on product types was new. With outcomes planned to mobilize the objects in the cell, eliminate monuments, and integrate product lines into a single process, the journey to the current state began in 2003.
Raytheon has successfully implemented a modular, agile and reconfigurable factory. The reconfigurable portion was obtained through the use of overhead grids that contain power, air, and network connectivity, Parts Presentation Vehicles (PPVs), and items on wheels (or movable using a forklift). The decision to leave cranes in place if the work cell is reconfigured adds to the flexibility. Overhead cranes are procured and installed at requisite locations. Operator and material movement is minimized through layout and the location of material at the point of use (e.g., stock of consumable items in the work cells). The colocation of work cell leaders with the cell has improved communication, and a reduction in forklift traffic has increased safety. Reduced cycle time, improved efficiency, and an integrated single operation have also been achieved.
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