5 ways automation can streamline assembly operations

Bosch Rexroth offers 5 key ways to incorporate lean manufacturing principles into assembly operations – even for automated processes. Here's advice on how automation can help implement lean concepts.

05/23/2011


Bosch Rexroth Podcast Discusses “Lean in Assembly Operations”Lean manufacturing expert, Dan Fleming, worked with Bosch Rexroth to outline how automation can work with lean concepts to make assembly operations more efficient. Fleming, who is Continuous Improvement Manager of the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership (GBMP), stresses that although a common perception is that automation builds in waste and excess production, automation can actually streamline processes that are typical of a wasteful manual assembly line. Five key points of advice follow from Fleming.

1. Mistake-proofing, standardization and consistency, considered hallmarks of automation, also are important concepts of lean manufacturing.

2. Design engineers should consider lean principles when designing automated processes. For example, robots on an assembly line should exclude additional movements that are not an integral part of the actual task. By limiting wasteful movement, the robot could complete the task faster and the item would be assembled quicker, and the process becomes even leaner.

3. Countering the common assumption that automation is expensive, Fleming explains that simply improving or modifying processes on a large machine could achieve a significant reduction in changeover time. If changing tools is necessary, for example, by removing and then replacing four bolts, operators should question if the same task can be completed safely with two bolts. This cuts the time needed to attach the tool by 50 percent, and that savings may be amplified across multiple tools to save additional time.

4. According to Fleming, overproduction is the worst waste because it perpetuates even more waste: moving the extra product, storing it, counting it and paying tax on it. It’s more efficient to keep a big machine idle than produce things that are not needed. A lean alternative, says Fleming, would be to add multiple smaller machines so the assembly line is more flexible.

5. Fleming also recommends that a person working in an assembly line should have a standardized, stable work environment that is always equipped with the right tools in spaces that can be reached without having to look up, eliminating a waste of motion. By designing workstations that are ergonomically correct, the person does not have to waste time by “setting up” the workstation; everything is ready for the task to be completed immediately.

More information is available from Fleming in Rexroth’s lean manufacturing podcast episode 16, “Lean in Assembly Operations” discusses how to apply lean concepts to automation. The episode is the latest in a series of Rexroth podcasts dedicated to lean manufacturing education. The podcast series is also available from the iTunes podcast library and other podcast directories on the web. Related and supporting information is available.

For more information on lean manufacturing visit www.boschrexroth-us.com/lean

http://www.boschrexroth-us.com/leanwww.boschrexroth-us.com

Bosch Rexroth

- Edited by Gust Gianos, Control Engineering, www.controleng.com



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
Inside IIoT: How technology, strategy can improve your operation; Dry media or web scrubber?; Six steps to design a PM program
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming
Managing automation upgrades, retrofits; Making technical, business sense; Ensuring network cyber security
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me