Currently, Schrader Electronics Ltd. (Antrim, Northern Ireland) is the only volume manufacturer of tire pressure sensors in the United Kingdom. And even though the company is experienced in manufacturing tire pressure sensors in high volume, it was going to have difficulty in meeting increasing demand due to U.S. regulations mandating that new cars be equipped with the devices.
Schrader was at a watershed. It manufactured 5 million of its remote tire pressure monitoring systems in 2002, and it expected to make more than twice that amount—11 million—in 2003. The company needed to find the quickest and most effective way of meeting this demand. Paul Gardner, plant manager at Antrim, wanted to develop the facility into a high-volume manufacturing center of excellence that would reside alongside the company’s existing research and development facility. “I knew we were facing a potential project management nightmare,” says Gardner. “To make the devices in such high volume would be very challenging and demand automating our process as much as possible. This would require a diverse range of state-of-the-art electronics and automation machinery and technology. There was no off-the-shelf solution. We were also lacking the internal manpower and expertise required to commission and install such a process,” he says.
Gardner’s first task was to identify suitable equipment vendors that understood the requirements. “We quickly realized, however, that the biggest problem would be getting these vendors to work effectively together and with us to design and manufacture totally reliable and robust automation equipment,” says Gardner.
A break came when Gardner was discussing the situation with one of its potential vendors. It recommended that he contact the Special Projects Group at Siemens Dematic (Nuremburg, Germany). “Although our existing Siplace placement line was well-established and a reliable part of our production process, it was also a very small part,” says Gardner. But Schrader soon realized that Siemens could offer assistance.
Siemens performed an in-depth manufacturing and business analysis of the exact needs and requirements of Schrader. It then took over the full project management responsibility for specifying, sourcing and installing a full turnkey project on the company’s behalf. Siemens worked with the different vendors.
Today, the two new assembly lines are operational and already returning a yield. “The net result was that we would get the manufacturing automation we needed more rapidly, painlessly and cost-effectively than we could have achieved on our own,” Gardner says.
For more information on project management, call 770-797-3000 or visit www.siemens-dematic.com.