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Electronics Firm Combines Plant Move With Switch To JIT Manufacturing
Recently, the CSR Division of Cleveland Machine Controls Inc. took on a rather large project: We moved our plant to an entirely new facility and at the same time switched to JIT manufacturing in a large part of our operation. By moving and switching, we won a lot of improvements and benefits for both ourselves and the customers who buy our motion-control products.
Two or three years ago, management decided that our eight-story building in downtown Pittsburgh was obsolete, no longer capable of meeting the company's growing and changing needs in the new world-competitive market. This decision coincided with the appointment of a new president who had experience with JIT cell manufacturing techniques. This fortunate confluence of factors gave CSR the opportunity of a lifetime.
Today, the new plant is in operation, using the JIT system with dramatic results. For example, floor space has been reduced to 30,000 sq ft from 113,000 sq ft (96,000 sq ft in the old building and 17,000 sq ft of automation systems manufacturing operations moved from another facility). That's an overall reduction of about 73%.
With a double change like this, one might expect major interruptions in operations. Although there were some problems, we did not have serious interference with product delivery or customer service. We are now working to expand the JIT principle to all areas of the new plant.
Objectives of JIT layout
Fundamentally, the manufacturing process in the CSR division was changed, with the aid of consultants from Arthur Andersen & Co., from a batch-type operation to a more continuous one. In moving from the old building to the new one, CSR replaced a production system that moved large batches between manufacturing floors with a more continuous flow of smaller quantities. In designing this layout, CSR and Arthur Andersen personnel sought to achieve the following eight goals:
* Increase visibility of manufacturing problems as they arise.
* Reduce pick time.
* Reduce training time.
* Reduce overall manufacturing floor space.
* Increase assembly and texting productivity.
* Reduce material handling effort.
* Reduce production lead time.
* Increase production-scheduling flexibility.
To reach these goals, we made major departures from tradition in layout and procedures in four operations: printed circuit board (PCB) assembly; mechanical assembly; system assembly; and quality control and testing.
* Focused storage: In the JIT system, CSR adopted focused …