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Product Manufacturing 2

Reduce build time and components in a medium scale facility without compromise to quality

A medium scale manufacturer of heaters supplying both the domestic and commercial markets were experiencing difficulties with increasing costs of time and materials required during assembly of each heating unit. The time required to assemble a unit seemed to increase with growing sales.

Project Summary:

After meeting with the owner and managing director of the company, we proposed a five-day information gathering session to evaluate the build process for the most commonly sold units.

During the five-day information-gathering period, we also evaluated the component construction drawings and bill of materials for the three highest selling units.

Items for consideration:

Each time there was an order for a unit the manufacturer was ordering components from multiple AutoCAD drawings that had multiple untracked revisions. Each unit also had multiple forms of fastenings such as clip fittings, screws, nuts, bolts and press fittings. In addition to this, the laser cut components which arrived were still attached to the sheet from which they were cut from (for ease of delivery and to reduce damage to components).

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Fig. 1 - Example of heating units being assembled.

The most time consuming items in assembly consisted of the following (from longest to shortest):

Removing stamped components from parent sheet material.
Arranging heater components with matching fasteners.
Finding the correct tools.
Walking back and forth from one side of the assembly floor to the other side for different tasks.

After the evaluation session, the project proposal was broken down into two different sections:

Altered build design with less components.
Standardize assembly components between different model heater units.
A more efficient workshop design.

Altered build design with template drawings and bill of materials to order and assemble from

Using a 3D design package, the existing heater assemblies (for the three highest selling units) were modelled and evaluated. After many modifications, using the software and only two pilot runs the following was achieved:

Standard internal laser cut components for all three units.
Complete removal of nut and bolt fasteners (as these were most time consuming of the fasteners).
Reduction in number of components required for assembly.
Reduction in type of screws required for assembly.
Uniquely shaped components for all screw fastened components.
Uniquely shaped components for all clip fastened components.
Uniquely shaped components for all press fastened components.

Altered workshop layout with reduced tooling

Once the new designs were trialed and ready to be incorporated as the standard, the following workshop changes were made:

Sequenced workstations for each task so that items always flowed in one direction.
Each work station labelled for appropriate task.
Each work station equipped with appropriate punch and die set for removing components from parent material.
Each work station equipped with appropriate fasteners and associated tools required by operator for specific assembly step.
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