Flexibility and efficiency are essential to the success of an automotive parts manufacturer, as its OEM customers are always adding new products and updating standards. Todd Emmons, an engineer in the automotive business unit for Johnson Controls, kept this in mind as he built a new production facility in Suwanee, GA.

At the Georgia plant, workers assemble seats, door panels, power controls, air bags, various types of brackets and buttons and other interior parts for the Kia Sorento. Nearly 500 cars a day move through the 125,000-square-foot facility.

“This is a high-volume plant. We’re completing 55 jobs an hour, and the goal is to step that up to 60 jobs an hour,” says Emmons. “Every minute counts, and every inch of workspace does too.”

When designing the plant, Emmons worked with John Maicki, president of DR Storage, to identify the line-side assembly technology that would best fit current and future production needs. Johnson Controls wanted something durable, ergonomically sound and capable of accommodating the various product sizes on the production line. The technology also had to be mobile, adjustable and reusable as production demands changed.

Emmons and Maicki did not want
tubular pipe structures because they are highly customized and difficult to move from station to station.
Instead, the duo selected Flow Cell flow-through workstations made by UNEX Manufacturing Inc.

Flow Cell units offer many benefits, the most important being reusability. The cells can be picked up and moved to another place in the plant—or a new location entirely—and be reconfigured. This mobility eliminates the need to buy new racks.

“We only have 84 inches of pick space per workstation, and the Flow Cells never waste an inch of space,” says
Emmons. “[The flow racks] accommodate a variety of materials, whether we are working with seats, door handles, power controls, air bags and the many different types of brackets and buttons.”

Another benefit of the workstations is uninterrupted work flow. The cells are configured to maximize productivity so the just-in-time plant can deliver product exactly when the nearby Kia facility is ready for it.

“The more efficient we can make the process, the more value we can offer customers, and that translates into more products for our operations,” says Emmons. “Overall, we ordered 41 Flow Cells and assembled them in less than a half an hour each.”

For more information on flow-through workstations, call 800-695-7726 or visit www.unex.com.