The 2011 Assembly Plant of the Year boasts a state-of-the-art warehouse that plays a key role upstream and downstream in the production process. The Philips Respironics facility in New Kensington, PA, uses high-density racking to maximize useful space for raw components.

In addition, FIFO is managed through the design of the racking. Racks are loaded on one side and pallets are removed from the other.

The warehouse also focuses on moving pallets of material vs. moving individual boxes. “Moving pallets of material to the line results in less trips by fewer material handlers and improves delivery time of raw components,” says Eric Kulikowski, senior director of North American operations.

The plant recently began shipping continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) devices directly to several customers in France and Germany. “Through this direct-ship process, the plant is now able to shorten the customer value chain while eliminating multiple touches in the distribution network, as well as significantly reducing the global inventory for this product by 16,000 units,” says Kulikowski.

“This process exemplifies the responsiveness and shortened manufacturing cycle times of the plant,” adds Kulikowski. “The sea container loads are scheduled on the plant floor in the morning. The units are assembled, tested, packaged, and then prepared for shipment and released all on the same day.”

Delivery of finished products is predominantly accomplished through a central distribution center for all Philips Respironics plants. The target order fulfillment time is 24 hours for all orders. On-time delivery to this target out of the central distribution center is greater than 95 percent.