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Assembly in Action: Lean Approach to Work Flow Delivers Numerous Benefits

April 2, 2012
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Every day, Ossur Americas assem-bles and ships more than 800 cervical collar packages from its 52,000-square-foot facility in Paulsboro, NJ, to users worldwide. The company also develops, manufactures and assembles millions of prosthetics and other novel medical devices annually at the facility.

assembly in action 2
Workers at Ossur Americas in Paulsboro, NJ,
assem ble and ship more than 800 cervical
collar packages every day to users worldwide.
Photo courtesy UNEX Manufacturing Inc.

In 2008, Ossur made the plant’s distribution and assembly areas more lean by replacing traditional flat tables with Flow Cell flow-through workstations. The workstations take up less space and prevent clutter because they feed raw material to the assemblers in an uninterrupted way.

A few years later, Ossur Americas again looked for ways to eliminate waste and clutter in its assembly area. After consulting with material-handling spe-cialist Matt Montgomery of Advanced Equipment Company Inc., Ossur decided to install additional Flow Cell workstations, which are made by UNEX Manufacturing Inc.

The workstations have improved worker ergonomics, minimized storage space for parts inventory and increased order picking efficiency. Flow Cells feature tilted pick shelves, built-in lighting and an overhead toolbar.

“One of the core values at Ossur is frugality,” says Axel Bjornsson, operations manager for Ossur Americas. “We look for opportunities to increase productivity and eliminate waste in the supply chain because this allows us to be more competitive and cost-effec-tive.”

Ossur likes the workstations’ modularity, which allows for custom designs that enhance ergonomics. For example, the workstations’ tilted pick shelves angle items toward workers so everything they need is within arms’ reach. Workers can comfortably access items and pack them into boxes.

“It’s an efficient and ergonomically safe work setting,” says Bjornsson. “This keeps workers focused on the task. There are no distractions or confusion about what needs to happen next, and no need to maneuver around cluttered tables. Employees start their day knowing exactly what needs to be done, and how it needs to be done.”

The workstations also have lowered Ossur’s labor costs. The company has been able to eliminate five assemblers and still complete the same amount of work.

“The Flow Cells have allowed us to improve cycle time and double
productivity,” says Bjornsson. “Downtime is minimized, and work progresses smoothly from one workstation to the next.”

According to Bjornsson, the workstations have enabled Ossur workers to become experts in their specific jobs, resulting in greater worker consistency and higher-quality products. This has led Ossur to consider Flow Cell workstations a best practice—and install them in its Camarillo, CA, facility.

For more information on flow-through workstations, call 800-695-7726 or visit www.unex.com.

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