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Lean & Efficient Manufacturing

Advanced technologies in manufacturing that automate, optimise and streamline manufacturing processes to enhance overall production performance
 Manufacturing technology has evolved substantially and can now facilitate companies to not just design, optimise, and streamline their manufacturing plant layouts, processes and resources but also integrate manufacturing with the product design functions seamlessly to better plan production processes. Latest technologies in Manufacturing and Product design and development can help companies augment product design and manufacturing efficiency by eliminating the ‘wastes’ to enhance the quality and quantity of productivity thus bettering the overall manufacturing performance.
An original Japanese methodology, known as Toyota Productions systems designed by Sakichi Toyoda, devised a way for the companies to streamline their production processes to enhance overall production efficiency. It aimed at eliminating the wastes or as it is known the ‘muda’ to enhance consumer value while increasing the overall efficiency of production processes.
Toyota’s Chief Engineer, Taiichi Ohno as part of the Toyota Production System has classified 7 types of mudas or wastes which companies need to address to attain lean manufacturing: 1 Transportation: Products, raw materials or inventory should be transported as less as possible to avoid any damage, delay or risk of losing. And transportation in any way does not add to the consumer value.
2 Inventory: The stock of inventory in the form of raw materials should be in proportion required enough to achieve desired production. Over stocking or under stocking is a muda that leads to excess time and/or money consumption. the stock of finished goods lying in the inventory is also a muda as it is not being sold and it neither contributes in generating the revenue for the producer i.e. the company nor does it add consumer value.
3 Motion: It refers to the damage done to the machine while using it. Over the time due to wear and tear the machine does not operate as efficiently as it used to. working on such machines do not add to the consumer value but in fact reduces the quality of production and requires additional work to be done to rectify the damage done. It also involves the human fatigue that arises due to high stress and very high workloads. Such mudas should be addressed as they bear an adverse impact on consumer value that either result in reduced or inferior production and/or excess investment of time and costs to rectify.
4 Waiting: The goods should never lie idle. They should either be worked upon or should be in transit or transportation, otherwise goods lying idle are a muda.
5 Over processing: This involves working on the product too many times or for a very long time than it actually matters to the consumers. Over processing involves over analysing of the product, using more complex or expensive machinery or tooling than necessary etc.
6 Over production: The supply or production should be in proportion with the demand for the product. Over production leads to over stocking of inventory not just of raw material but also finished goods. Not to mention over production leads to over utilisation of other resources such as money and space to store the inventory and over produced goods, human efforts in producing larger quantities of products, and excess use of other resources such as machine, material, etc. Over production is one of the biggest muda that companies need to do away with as it is not just a burden on the company’s’ resources but in fact also reduces consumer value.
7 Defect: Any defect in the product or process results in incurring additional time, costs and resources to rectify and reproduce. Efforts should be made to identify and correct the defects earlier in the production cycle to eliminate the chances of rectification and reproduction.
The latest technologies in CAD/CAM/CAE, PLM and 3D printing can help companies address all these challenges and help them set-up processes that result in eliminating ‘muda” and maximising production efficiency.
Some of the advanced technologies that have revolutionised manufacturing to make it more streamlined, efficient and on-iterative are digital manufacturing solutions, 3D printing, and PLM. From manual manufacturing processes of yesterday, the industry today has made a shift towards digital manufacturing. Digital manufacturing solutions help create 3D simulations of plant design and functioning including men and machine interaction to help define the most efficient, safe, non-iterative, and non-interfering or hindrance free manufacturing processes. Right from assembly lines, human ergonomic simulation, to robotic simulation, plant layout, etc. could be defined and analysed virtually in the 3D environment. Digital manufacturing solutions and technologies through their offerings like “design for manufacturing” and “design for servicing” help the companies configure optimum work flows during the plant layout stage which enables the companies in enhancing the productivity and overall output of the company. Issues concerning to constraints in manufacturing or feasibility of manufacturing, popularly referred to as “manufacturability concerns” or “ergonomic constraints” are very difficult and highly expensive to rectify once the plant, work flows and processes are established. A prior validation would help companies identify such concerns at the earlier stage of planning and would hence save the time and cost of rectification. Even the existing plant could be rendered virtually and modified to see how manufacturing efficiency can be enhanced which then can be implemented by the companies in their physical plant space.
3D printing technologies are used not just for building models and parts for physical product design validation such as visualisation, fit, form and ergonomics, but infact can also be used to build parts for end-use applications. For example, Fortus series machines from the Stratasys can help build parts which can be used as the final product. Examples of some of these parts are jigs, fixtures, mould inserts and many more. Fortus series or production series machines from Stratasys use ABS+ Thermo plastics or production grade plastic as the material to build parts that are strong and can withstand high temperature, making them perfect to be used as final product. This is ideal for small batch productions. Some of the metal 3D printers can also build parts for end-use applications. A German company named SLM offer metal 3D printers that can build accurate and precise parts, making it an ideal choice for the companies to consider for manufacturing limited number of products. Today, more and more companies are investing in 3D printers as an option for manufacturing. The biggest advantage is lesser cost of error, easier to make design changes and faster productivity. A typical steel mould takes a few weeks to be developed, as against a mould insert can be developed using 3D printer in a day’s time. Also if a design error is identified in the steel mould, then correcting it and developing the mould takes ghastly long time. whereas if a company is using a 3D printer to build a mould, then the necessary design changes can be made in the CAD file, and the mould can be printed again in a day’s time.
PLM basically helps companies integrate, configure and manage their design data, processes, and workflows right from the initial stages of product development cycle, i.e. concept stage to design, simulation and validation, right through to manufacturing and releasing the product to market. It helps companies with the setting up of effective data management systems, efficient workflow and process configurations, and overall system validation. PLM also automates the work flows that helps exert a strong grip on the product development process, and thereby bring more control and discipline, and streamline the overall development cycle. PLM typically works within and addresses these five primary functional areas namely: l Requirements management l Project management l Engineering process management l Manufacturing process management l Supplier relationship management.
Benefits of PLM l End to end management of data, information, process, resourcesl Collaborative product developmentl Synchronised development process, zero idle timel Early time to market l Increased market success.
It is said that, on an average, a company spends 40 per cent of its revenues and 60 per cent of its time in research and development. Latest technologies like these can help companies optimise their design and development cycle, boost product design innovation, optimise use of resources and save immeasurably precious time and costs of product development that would help them attain a leading position and higher market share.
Shrinking product life cycles, growing imperative to develop innovative products faster and better than the competition, higher bargaining power of the consumers has necessitated the companies into product design and development to adopt latest technologies in product design and manufacturing that would help them compress their design and development cycle, and hit the market early with smarter products that perform offering them to the consumers at competitive rates.
Authored by__
Vivek Mahajan, National Technical Support Manager-PLM, DesignTech Systems Ltd.

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