Boosting Productivity of Automatic Assembly Machines

Reduce Changeover Time - Boosting Productivity Of Automatic Assembly Machines

Reducing Changeover Time

Client:  A designer and manufacturer of consumer packaging.

Goal:  Reduce changeover time of automated machines to increase capacity and reduce lead time from order placement to order fulfillment.

Requirements: A minimum of a 50% reduction in changeover time and a corresponding 22% increase in production which will require the machines in all facilities to change product line production more often.

Initial Tasks: Training and awareness was conducted by DPA senior consultant Tom Voss, with key lean and kaizen principles framing the improvement event. The company’s eight-member Kaizen team began by reviewing videos and data from prior changeovers of the machine.

Findings: Time observations gave the team baseline numbers to establish the 50% changeover time reduction goal. During the video recorded pre-event trials, they witnessed several interruptions of the process, missing parts, tooling that hadn’t been engineered for the machine, component issues, lack of QA testing, lack of cleaning protocols, inconsistent staffing and lack of inspection for detail parts.

Actions: During the event’s first trial, the operator changed out parts from the completed order, but with no interruptions from other production issues. Several improvements were identified from a review of video that captured his activities. Even with minor improvements in preparation, these changes significantly reduced changeover time. This trial demonstrated that the operator works best with support from a mechanic.

Changeover Time - Improvements Identified
Generating Ideas: The team’s observations sparked a number of improvement ideas and actions including removing boxes to improve movement around the line, regular cleaning of the machine’s parts and adding visual controls for parts inspection and storage. To minimize interferences during the changeover process, they recommended defining standard work for the crew.

Changeover Time - Generating Ideas
For the second trial, advanced preparations were made. Parts were identified and arranged for ease of access and sequence of use. Incoming parts were staged for ready access. Color coded visuals were set up to control materials. 5S activities were done to organize and clean the area around the machine.

Changeover Time - Line Clearance Integrity
The operator, a second operator and a mechanic worked in an uninterrupted manner. With easy access to tooling and support equipment, the operators and mechanic performed the changeover in about a quarter of the time from the pre-kaizen observations.

Project Baseline to Benefits Comparison
Project Baseline to Benefits Comparison:
A reduction of 35 minutes per changeover for each of up to five changeovers per day will yield an additional 8,375 parts/day. With operations improvements, the machine will be able to ramp to 67 parts/minute and make the requirement of 86,832 parts per day.

In addition to the changeover time reductions, improvements in operability and machine reliability were made. The team’s process of inspection, preparation, cleaning, visual aids and and staffing adjustments is being replicated for all the facility’s assembly machines.

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