Drilling Down Continuous Improvement in Cellular Manufacturing

posted on: Wednesday January 25, 2017

head-19901_1280Any effort in Lean Manufacturing falls under the much more general umbrella of Continuous Improvement. Also called Kaizen, it’s the mindset that the employees of Toyota innately have that makes all of their other efforts so successful.

Approaching your business strategy in terms of Continuous Improvement rather than solely Lean, Just-in-Time (JIT), or any other model, you open up to a wider range of improvements. This is particularly advantageous given the difficulties American manufacturers experience when implementing strategies like these. With Continuous Improvement, your focus isn’t limited to one model. In the end, your efforts yield a business that is more productive, greener, less wasteful, more efficient, and more profitable.

One lean model, specific to JIT, that has been very successful in the US is cellular manufacturing. It takes Continuous Improvement to the level it’s meant for, using group technology to streamline workflows and increase visibility. The workcell arrangement is conducive to minimizing a lot of wastes, which is why the strategy is almost always immediately effective.

It’s paramount to understand, however, that Continuous Improvement doesn’t stop once the workcells are up and running. Continuous Improvement is a mentality. It’s an underlying rule that should be in the back of your mind at all times. Pete Nelson, President of Load Mover Inc. addresses this in terms of remembering the definition of “work.”

Work is anything that adds value to a part or assembly that a customer is willing to pay for. Simply picking up a part and doing nothing to it doesn’t add value. It doesn’t get the part any closer to being a finished product. Nelson says, “If that worker picks up a part and takes three steps and then puts it into a drill press, drills a hole then removes the part and puts it back from where it came from, the only part of that process that is work is the actual drilling of the hole.  All the other steps are considered waste and there is an opportunity to eliminate them with Continuous Improvement.”

This is a perfect example to keep in mind when operating within a workcell. Your steps have been reduced, and your process has been condensed. A lot of waste has already been eliminated, providing the ultimate environment to perfect the process even more.

This approach to work is what Nelson’s company helps manufacturers achieve. Load Mover Inc. produces battery-powered tugs. Power tugs have already established a reputation for elevating productivity and safety, especially in a lean environment. Nelson has seen many parts picked up and set down again over the last 30 years in manufacturing. He and his team don’t just sell equipment but they do work on selling solutions to outdated manufacturing methods. They work with their customers to determine the specific way that the Load Movers will add value to each manufacturing process. By the end of the sale, the customers are armed with both the tools and expertise to eliminate the most waste with the tugs.

Find out whether a power tug can take your cellular manufacturing to the next level. Call Load Mover Inc. at 952-767-1720, or email info@loadmoverinc.com.