AIA: Flow Racks Make Assembly More Efficient
In 2003, Android Industries (Flint, MI) opened a 226,000-square-foot facility in Shreeveport, LA, to provide outfitting for engines and transmission going into Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon trucks from General Motors Corp. (Detroit). The plant-Android Industries seventh-is located just a mile from where GM performs final assembly of the two truck lines. It supplies more than 900 engine-transmissions a day on a just-in-time basis.
In order to provide efficient "dressing" of these assemblies, Android uses a number of flow cell workstations to provide easy access to parts, right on the assembly line. In its previous facilities, the company had used pipe rack structures mounted on plastic wheels. But for the Shreeveport plant, it installed full-width roller Span-Track workstations from Unex Manufacturing Inc. (Jackson, NJ), to enhance both adaptability and ease of use.
"We were doing the initial start-up and wanted to put a system in place with the greatest flexibility for change," says Mark Geer, lead engineer and a member of the launch team for the Shreeveport plant. According to Geer, this meant flexibility, both to accommodate employees on the line working at various heights from the plant floor and assembly operations that could change according to new contracts further down the road.
Geer says that at the company's existing plants, managers had always been careful to save the pipes from outdated workstations in the hope of reusing them in the future. The result, however, was "heaps" of pipes of various sizes that over time presented more work than value for the company.
Ultimately, Android installed 22 Unex workstations, which Geer says were easy to install. If necessary, they can hold up to 4 days worth of material before they need to be replenished.
"[The workstation] does what it's supposed to do and doesn't take up a lot of floor space," says Geer. "They all went together in one day. It probably took about 30 minutes to set up each Flow Cell, and everybody that assembled the units were production line employees."
As an added benefit, Geers says the full-width rollers allow parts containers to travel more easily to where line operators can reach them easily.
"Bolt boxes don't go down wheels very well," he says. "The Span-Track full length rollers sections in the [workstations] is what we needed."
At their most basic, Unex modular workstations are comprised of standardized components, including vertical posts, horizontal beams and roller tracks to accommodate different-sized totes.
To customize the units for specific applications, Unex offers a number of different accessories, including galvanized steel add-on pick trays in depths of 12 and 15 inches; an overhead tool bar for attaching lighting and other components; galvanized steel workbenches in 12- and 18-inch depths; and casters for easy movement.
For more information about flow cells and modular workstations, call 800-695-7726, visit www.unex.com or eInquiry 5.