Assembly in Action: Workbenches Contribute to Lean Manufacturing
Hamilton Sundstrand’s Phoenix facility is an integral part of the electronics manufacturing operation within the company’s Aerospace Power Systems business. Products manufactured at the Phoenix facility are found on most aircraft.
Challenged to stay more competitive in the aerospace industry, the Phoenix facility is incorporating lean manufacturing methodologies. And GWS Inc.’s (Kennesaw, GA) workbenches, which are used in the final assembly workcell, have helped the company become lean.
The issues faced at the Phoenix facility concerned material and production flow. Although individual workstations worked well for each assembly operation, they did not address the need to move product and control production flow.
Assessing the production area revealed concerns. There was no continuous product flow. Product movement was excessive—resembling a “spaghetti flow.” Cycle time was also high for the amount of touch time to the product, creating excessive raw and work-in-process inventory. This created a congested workcell. The cell system was made up of six workstations that supported six separate work processes, with shared common tools. There was no balance in the workload content within the cell. This created inadequate utilization of point-of-use (POU) material. Tool management was inefficient. An excessive amount of time was spent searching for work, tools and hardware.
As part of the solution, the plant used existing equipment to reduce conversion costs to lean manufacturing. Subsequently, six existing GWS workstations were repositioned to form two lines. MultiLine SimTec roller profiles were attached to the existing worksurfaces. They created a 2-foot bridge between each station. This new arrangement now consists of two continuous flow cells with three assembly points in each cell. The space created by the bridges provides an area for paperless work instruction monitors and a staging area for specialized components. Space directly in front of each assembly workstation has been dedicated to POU material. Assembly tools are located on the worksurface between the roller profiles. Product pallets move directly over the assembly tools. SimTec pallet locks secure the pallet at the designated assembly stops.
With a redesigned production area, the Phoenix plant is now more efficient and effective. The two cells provide continuous in-line product movement. Cycle times are 50 percent lower in one cell, and 80 percent lower in the other. Production output has increased by 50 percent, and inventory levels are greatly reduced. Work content at each station is balanced, and operator motion during assembly has been minimized. In addition, the work environment is now safer. Workers no longer need to lift final assembly units, which can weigh up to 35 pounds. Product quality is improved, and the overall cost of the product to the customer is less. Finally, production space has been reduced by 25 percent, and overall workcell improvements have boosted teamwork and morale.
For more information on workbenches, call 800-437-6772 or visit www.gwssystems.com.