Original Date: 06/05/2006
Revision Date: / /
Information : Point-of-Use Tooling/Kardex System
Rockwell Collins partnered with a local distributor to develop an automated and centralized system for control, storage, retrieval, and reordering of commonly used perishable machine tools used in its fabrication manufacturing area. This system has effectively reduced tool shortages and job stoppages due to shortages, and machine downtime due to searching for the right tool in previously uncontrolled and decentralized storage locations.
Prior to 2001, the fabrication manufacturing area of the Rockwell Collins Cedar Rapids facility experienced frequent, perishable tool shortages due to a lack of control of these vital machine tools. No centralized or secure inventory of these tools existed at this time, so machine operators were often forced into non-value-added activities such as searching through the many distributed and uncontrolled tool storage locations and tearing down machine setups when the proper tool could not be located for running the scheduled machining job. A single point of contact for reordering tools did not exist and machine operators often kept their own hidden inventory of tools; therefore, overall tool inventories were often much higher than necessary, even though the requisite tools were often unavailable.
Rockwell Collins decided to develop a centralized and controlled inventory system for perishable machine tools and partnered with one of its local distributors to set up the system. Using a value stream map approach, Rockwell Collins engineers determined that machine operators were spending as much as one hour searching for tools during their machine setup. A Kardex automated vertical carousel system was installed in a central location of the fabrication area, which freed approximately 900 square feet of floor space previously occupied by a staffed tool crib storeroom. To induct the standard set of tools, a part number and bar code were assigned to each tool and a catalog of the entire tool inventory was created and programmed into the Kardex carousel.
Rockwell Collins controls access to the tool inventory through employee badge numbers to ensure security. After appropriate two-week inventory levels are established in the carousel, the system software continually tracks inventory levels and automatically reorders at the appropriate, preset inventory trigger point. Trigger points are determined based upon anticipated tool life and cross- referenced with the anticipated workload in the manufacturing area. Rockwell Collins maintains an open blanket purchase order with its local tool distributor, and a representative from the distributor delivers new tools once a week. Both the distributor and Rockwell Collins employees periodically check physical inventory accuracy of the carousel against the system software.
As a result of this new system, the Rockwell Collins fabrication manufacturing area has eliminated outages and machine downtime due to tool inventory errors. Tool search-and-retrieval time has been reduced to 5 minutes and reordering has been automated, freeing Rockwell Collins employees from this responsibility – the combination of which has resulted in an estimated 1,200 man-hour savings annually. Rockwell Collins has also reduced the dollar value of its perishable machine-tool inventory by 30%.
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