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Why traditional lean manufacturing approaches need to be adapted for job shop environments.
Two high-volume gear production cells grace the shop floor at Delta Research Corporation in Livonia, Michigan. Thanks to lean manufacturing, these cells have never shipped a defective part to a customer since they were developed over three years ago.
Make no mistake -- lean manufacturing is here to stay. And no wonder. As a fiercely competitive global economy continues to alter companies’ “Main Street” thinking, that relatively new dynamic is spurring the need for “I-need-it-yesterday” production output. And for increasingly more industries -- big or small -- that means getting as lean as you can, as fast as you can.
Readers respond to our "Job Shop Lean" column and the "My Gear is Bigger than Your Gear" article.
The final installment of our Job Shop Lean series includes a wide variety of educational resources to help you continue your own lean journey.
Over the past few months I've talked with several different gear manufacturers who are in the process of upgrading their gear making equipment with modern CNC machine tools. Each of these manufacturers has come to the realization that in order to stay competitive, he needs to streamline operations and become more efficient...
Job shops may be ill-advised to undertake a complete reorganization into FLEAN (Flexible and Lean) cells. A FLEAN cell would (i) be flex-ible enough to produce any and all orders for parts that belong in a specific part family and (ii) utilize lean to the maximum extent possible to eliminate waste.
Although a cell is dedicated to produce a single part family, it must have the requisite equipment capabilities, routing flexibility, cross-trained employees and, to the extent possible, minimal external process dependencies. Cells are often implemented in job shops since they provide the operational benefits of flowline production.
In the August issue, we examined the lean tools that will and will not work in high-mix, low-volume manufacturing facilities. Now, we will examine how to implement the tools that will work in the job shop with an approach that expands the capabilities of value stream mapping.
This is the first article in an eight-part "reality" series on implementing continuous improvement at Hoerbiger Corporation. Throughout 2013, Dr. Shahrukh Irani will report on his progress applying the job shop lean strategies he developed during his time at Ohio State University.
The Tiger Team from Hoerbiger looks for ways to cut waste and improve throughput in the company's assembly cell.
While universally known as a Japanese “invention” that was popularized by Toyota, lean in fact traces its roots to the work of post-World War II American occupation forces in Japan.
How lean manufacturing principles can help transform your gear manufacturing business.
Google “lean manufacturing” and you will find a virtually endless font of information regarding formal lean implementation. You’ll see definitions for Japanese words such as kaizen, gemba, muda, mura, kanban, and so on. You will also find other variations or iterations of lean, e.g.: Six Sigma, Lean Sigma, TPS (Toyota Production System), TOC (Theory of Constraints), JIT (Just in Time), and others.
POLCA: An alternative to Kanban for high-variety or custom-engineered products.
The complete Product News section from the January/February 2013 issue of Gear Technology.
"Design for manufacturability" (DFM) is a well-established practice, essential to realizing the successful transformation of concepts into mass-produced gears and motion control devices. And yet, all too often issues that could have been avoided are identified very late in the process that impact production costs and schedules. This suggests that key DFM principles are often underutilized in practice and are not applied consistently - or to the degree necessary - to avoid these negative results.
It’s been said that the best ideas are often someone else's. But with rebuilt, retrofitted, re-controlled or remanufactured machine tools, buyer beware and hold onto your wallet. Sourcing re-work vendors and their services can require just as much homework, if not necessarily dollars, as with just-off-the-showroom-floor machines.
The complete Industry News section from the November/December 2012 issue of Gear Technology.
Popular wisdom has it that manufacturing in the United States is no longer a viable entity. We are told that quality is poor, skilled labor is difficult to obtain, if not impossible, demand is low, and the government is helping to discourage business. So what should we do, give up?
It wasn’t so very long ago that a high school-educated, able-bodied person with a will to work typically had little trouble finding a decent job in manufacturing. Whether at an area job shop, an OEM plant or auto plant—work was to be had. Work that paid well enough to marry, buy a home, feed, raise and educate a family—with even enough left over for a modest retirement pension.
Before we get into projections and prognostications about the future, let’s take a minute to review 2012. For many in the gear industry, the year was better than expected. Some manufacturers had a very successful year leading up to an even more successful manufacturing trade show (IMTS 2012). Others were searching for more business, hoping that the general state of the economy wouldn’t make things worse. In some cases, it did.
Computers are everywhere. It's gotten so that it's hard to find an employee who isn't using one in the course of his or her day - whether he be CEO or salesman, engineer or machinist. Everywhere you look, you find the familiar neutral-colored boxes and bright glowing screens. And despite the gear industry's traditional reluctance to embrace new technology, more and moe of what you find on those screens are gears.
The complete Product News section from the January/February 2014 issue of Gear Technology.
Nashville - One of the highlights of this year's SME Advanced Gear Processing and Manufacturing Clinic was a tour of the new GM Saturn automobile manufacturing plant outside the city. There in the Tennessee hills is a hopeful vision of the future of the American automobile industry. It may well be the future of American large-scale manufacturing in general.
The complete Industry News section from the August 2014 issue of Gear Technology.
The complete product news section from the September / October 2014 Issue Gear Technology.
The complete Product News section from the October 2013 issue of Gear Technology.
The complete Product News section from the September 2013 issue of Gear Technology.
We are well into an odd-number year, so it must be just about time for another Gear Expo. Indeed, the big show -- Gear Expo 2013 -- kicks off in Indianapolis at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, September 17, wrapping up Thursday the 19th at 4:00 p.m. And whether you are exhibiting or attending, the bottom line is you are going -- a good thing for you, your company and the tightly knit U.S. gear industry.
The complete Industry News section from the August 2013 issue of Gear Technology.
The complete Industry News section from the May 2013 issue of Gear Technology
When you push 850 horsepower and 9,000 rpm through a racing transmission, you better hope it stands up. Transmission cases and gears strewn all over the racetrack do nothing to enhance your standing, nor that of your transmission supplier.
When the term, “what you see is what you get” is applied in the computer industry, it means that users or customers are able to see their end results without the encumbrances of complicated software code that enables this function. Software works behind the scenes ultimately to produce transparency and the desired effects. In many ways, this concept should be extended to the relationships that exist between suppliers and buyers and even among internal company departments.
Not long ago, many manufacturing managers thought sensitivity to environmental protection standards meant additional expenses, decreased productivity, and a plethora of headaches and hassles.
The complete Industry News section from the January/February 2013 issue of Gear Technology.
A look at three gear industry companies at varying stages in the journey.
For many in the gear and gear products business, these may seem like the best of times...
The gear companies enjoying the most success in today’s global market are those that firmly believe quality is much more than expert craftsmanship and foolproof inspection methodologies.
Most readers are at least familiar with continuous improvement programs such as lean and six sigma. Perhaps your shop or company is well along in the implementation of one or the other—if not both. But what about theory of constraints (TOC), introduced in Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt’s 1984 book, The Goal? Despite its rather negative-sounding name, this continuous improvement process has much to offer manufacturers of all stripes. And when combined with lean and six sigma, the results can be dramatic. Dr. Lisa Lang, a TOC consultant and speaker, explains why and how in the following Q&A session with Gear Technology.
The shipping department is the closest to the customer, and its main objective is to maximize shipped orders every month. Our lean guru shows how to eliminate waste in the shipping department.
A look at some of the software options available to help with lean scheduling in a job shop
Publisher Michael Goldstein discusses the loss of U.S. manufacturing capability and what we should do about it.
A series of short reports on global manufacturing growth and the gear industry's role.
The struggles of the manufacturing economy in 2009 are well documented. Even among those of us with long careers, most of us have never seen activity come to a screeching halt the way it did last year. 2009 was tough on all of us. So, what should we expect in 2010?
When Forest City Gear started manufacturing gears for medical components in the 1980s, it was a minuscule part of the company's business. Today, the medical device industry represents 18-20%.
If anyone should ever need convincing that the state of American manufacturing is in ongoing decline, consider this: the state of Michigan has the highest concentration of engineers in the country, yet also has the highest unemployment rate. But there are ripples of hope out there as grassroots and otherwise organized groups are fighting the good fight in an attempt to reverse that trend.
This article gives readers a glimpse of some companies that manufacture gears in the Far East. We've talked with more than a dozen companies in India, Taiwan and Korea...
What was once recognized as the unique genius of America is now slipping away from us and, in many areas, is now seen as a "second rate" capability. Unless action is taken now, this country is in real danger of being unable to regain its supremacy in technological development and economic vigor. First Americans must understand the serious implications of the problem; and second, we must dedicate ourselves to national and local actions that will ensure a greater scientific and technological literacy in America.