SMTA International Conference Proceedings


JOB CLUSTERING - AN UNTAPPED LEAN MANUFACTURING OPPORTUNITY

Author: Nir Dvir
Company: UGS / Tecnomatix Division
Date Published: 9/25/2005   Conference: SMTA International


Abstract: Lean manufacturing initiatives are focused on the elimination and/or minimization of non-added-value activities, materials and resources, which are viewed as waste. Many of the efforts focus on the material area, reducing inventory levels and minimizing the amount of inprocess unfinished (or semi-finished) goods.

Within the SMT Assembly area, feeder setups are traditionally changed every time a new work order for a different job is to be assembled on an SMT line. Due to build-to-order strategies, multiple prototype builds and inprocess material reduction - the typical lot sizes keep dropping and the number of feeder setup changeovers increases, resulting with problematic downtime ratios and a hectic manufacturing environment.

Until now, setup changeover activities are identified as a "necessary evil" rather than being identified as waste. Many manufacturing facilities operate under the assumption that the commonly used single-job-per-setup scenario is the only option possible. Some of those facilities invest a lot of effort and resources in reducing the downtime caused by each such changeover, by employing a larger staff per shift in order to expedite the changeover activity and by purchasing additional feeders and feeder carts in order to enable off-line setup activity to shorten changeover downtime. While those are somewhat effective in reducing the downtime, this direction is the exact opposite of being lean since it adds manpower, resources and activities that have no added value of their own.

Today, a software solution for clustering jobs and designing excellent quality common feeder setups has significantly matured, enabling the minimization, and sometimes even the elimination, of setup changeovers. This software technology will allow the industry to handle many feeder setup changeovers as waste, no longer as a "necessary evil".

Taking advantage of such technology enables a manufacturing paradigm change that has a significant positive impact on further lot size reduction, in-process inventory minimization, uptime increase, flexibility in scheduling and responsiveness to urgent orders.

This paper is the result of the author’s ten years of experience in providing software solutions to the Electronics Industry and his high involvement in the development and deployment of three different solutions for job clustering and designing common feeder setups.

Key words: lean manufacturing, clustering, feeder, setup, changeover.



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