Assembly In Action: Modular Flow Storage Sharpens Assembly Technology
The components include the Logix 4000 and conveyor beds, featuring 12-gauge galvanized steel, 1.9-inch-diameter, high-capacity rollers. The average container load is approxi- mately 1,000 pounds. However, some approach 3,000 pounds. A speed controller that limits the speed of containers and pallets to less than 60 feet per minute is installed at every pallet station.
Robert A. Mathus, supervisor of material handling engineering for truck and minivan assembly at the South St. Louis site, states that operational improvement in all areas of the plant is traceable to flow storage. For example, the Improvement Program appears to be more on track, now that a method for automatic replenishment of assembly parts is in place. Assembly people are more confident that unanticipated delays, associated with individual part shortages and misplaced items, are no longer factored into the productivity equation.
The Fenton, MO, assembly plant assembles the Town and Country, Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. After retooling and facility renovation, the plant reopened in 1995 to launch the new generation vehicles. Production capacity at the assembly plant is now 276,000 vehicles per year.
At the Fenton site, just-in-time delivery systems, new water-based paint technology, 385 robots, visual management and other new processes fine-tune the complete manufacturing process. A factory information computerized communication system tracks all activities along the 12.9 miles of conveyor to ensure precise delivery of vehicles to every assembly station.
Mathus documents the outstanding cooperative effort, involving his three major suppliers, which made the switch to high-density flow storage a smooth process. "Using our management for direction and our labor for installation muscle, and first, second and third tier supplier personnel for guidance, the installation was accomplished on time, virtually without the usual glitches that many anticipate on a project of this magnitude."
For more information on flow storage systems, call Interroll at 800-362-9616, visit www.interroll.com.