Discovering the right time and the right place

If manufacturing is organized chaos, then the warehouse is where that organization lives – or where the chaos lives. The process of making things works only if you have someplace to receive the raw materials, and then someplace to send the finished goods. The ingress and egress of materials through a plant is critical to the process itself, and it is that process that brought plant manage...

02/01/2007


If manufacturing is organized chaos, then the warehouse is where that organization lives %%MDASSML%% or where the chaos lives.

The process of making things works only if you have someplace to receive the raw materials, and then someplace to send the finished goods. The ingress and egress of materials through a plant is critical to the process itself, and it is that process that brought plant managers to Chicago last month for the annual ProMat show, sponsored by the Material Handing Industry of America.

A lot of the talk at ProMat centered on this idea of making strategic decisions about how materials flow from an incoming truck to the plant floor to an outgoing truck. The idea of Just-In-Time manufacturing makes tracking materials at every step of the manufacturing process critical to productivity.

While much of the discussion looks at warehousing and logistics for finished goods, a good bit of attention is being paid to how those goods get finished. In Lean manufacturing, not only is the assembly process studied to get the maximum benefit for every piece used, but every piece must be in place exactly when it is needed. Lean is about eliminating waste, and that must be a focus for every manufacturer.

When you look at our Top Plant winners this year, you find different products, but common ways of producing them. The success of manufacturers such as Toyota, Square D and BMW is found not just in making things well, but studying new systems and ideas to make things better. Every step in the material handling process is a critical part of that success, and part of what we will honor at our Manufacturing Summit April 2 and April 3 in Chicago.

There is a further convergence of thinking about matching the hardware %%MDASSML%% in this case, the trucks, lifts, conveyors and hoists needed to move materials throughout the plant %%MDASSML%% and the software that tracks how much is being used how fast and where any item is in the manufacturing process.

When you see fork lifts outfitted with RFID readers; when you observe automatic picking systems; and when you watch conveyors with barcode readers whipping packages from one line to the next, you understand that it's not enough simply to have materials moving through the process. It's about having everything in the right place at the right time.

Time is every manufacturer's biggest enemy. Too fast and we risk quality and safety; too slow and we lose productivity and our competitive edge. Finding the right balance is a constant challenge. It's why the plant manager's experience is so valued (look at January's Salary Survey for an object lesson on how that is changing for the better.)

The essence of material handling, as we discuss this month, is finding that right place and that right time. The right time and right place to study this issue in your own facility is here and now.





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.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
Safety standards and electrical test instruments; Product of the Year winners; Easy and safe electrical design
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Diagnostic functions for system safety; Specifying industrial enclosures; Effective decision support for a crisis
Transformers; Electrical system design; Selecting and sizing transformers; Grounded and ungrounded system design, Paralleling generator systems
Natural gas for tomorrow's fleets; Colleges and universities moving to CHP; Power and steam and frozen foods

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.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me