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Flow Manufacturing
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Lean Manufacturing, Basics, Principles, Techniques

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4. Process Data for Line Design

In this step the line design data elements are developed to design the line balance models. In a spreadsheet all processes including likely rework are listed in the sequence of manufacturing for each subfamily within each product family. The process data include process name, scrap or yield percentage, key machine and equipment, batch size when applicable, and machine and labor setup and cycle times. When neces­sary a rework matrix may be developed for multiprocessing reworks. Wherever possible, an attempt is made to consolidate or split process steps so that work content at a workstation can approximate the line tact time to provide for a balanced line.

5. Labor-Machine Interface Charts

For processes in which labor-to-machine interface time is not one-to-one, the labor-machine interface charts are developed to distinguish between machine time and labor time so that each type of resource requirements can be calculated separately.

6. Line Balance Model

A spreadsheet-based line balance model calculates the line tact times, machine and labor resources, and workstation floor space requirements to support the design line capacity. An analysis of the line balance calcu­lations leads to the determination of the number of workstations for the

flow lines. It may be noted that the same model can be used as a day-to­day operating tool in the development of the master schedule as well as for capacity planning of the resources with changing demand mix.

7. Demand-Based Part Repetitive
Mapping and Kanbans

The MRP-driven pull system described in this paper identifies the kan-ban items using repetitive mapping of parts within product families. It also calculates the kanban sizes for the supplier parts as well as for the production items. This information along with standard container sizes is used to develop space requirements for the floor stock and worksta­tion kanban bins.

8. Conceptual Flow Layout Model Options

In this step using the line balance models and the kanban calculations, the conceptual flow layout models and preliminary layouts with vari­ous options are developed. The conceptual model options are then pre­sented to the flow implementation team to select and agree on the best option. A manufacturing simulation model is very useful at this step to observe the impact of various options on inventory, cycle times, and throughput. The concept of focus factory can be developed by the team by grouping a number of like flow lines and support functions.

Conceptual Model Development Guidelines

In both repetitive and hybrid environments, a typical synchronized flow line is composed of a number of work cells or functionally different workstations that are laid out together in close proximity and in pro­cess sequence to produce a family of products. The synchronized flow lines are further linked with the feeder and subfeeder lines or work cells. A workstation may consist of one or more functionally similar machines and equipment to support the design line capacity or rate. A flow line linked with feeders provides a cost-effective material and production flow from components to end items. In case of a hybrid environment, the layout plan may include a functionally laid out sup­port area like a machine shop that supports many flow lines, if part varieties are too high and volumes are low.

Interoperation kanbans or buffers are designed to smooth out the load imbalances due to down times, reworks, and variations in the pro­cess times and yield. The kanban parts supply, the interoperation kanbans, feeders, and the flow line processes are all synchronized to pro­duce the desired rate on a continuous flow basis.

Figure 1 shows an example of two different options for the layout configuration of a flow line with two feeder lines—one option is a single flow line for all customers and the other consists of two parallel converging flow lines where one line may be designated for a cus­tomer while the other may be planned for multiple customers. When volume or special requirements from a customer warrant, a line can be dedicated to that customer for a given period of time and a focused team can be organized immediately and assigned to satisfy the specific customer requirements. This may require some changes to the equip­ment or processes. When volume is not sufficient, it is better to mix a number of customers on each line but provide the customer-specific manufacturing instructions to the workstations. In this case a team can then focus on a group of customers and be responsible for them. The second layout option also provides the flexibility for designating a line for relatively high-volume production and the other line for mixed-model, low-volume production.

An ideal approach of course, is to design flexible production lines where processes and people can be reconfigured cost-effectively to support the changing product mix and demand.

To Be Continued


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