Creating line efficiency

Streamlining of production flows takes place within Lean with the help of Kanban and JIT (Just In Time) tools. These tools originate from the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota, and the work methodology is described in their production system TPS (Toyota Production System).

Availability and reliability
If a production line consists of several machines, there are a few things that need to be considered. Below we describe how to dimension a production line that has several machines in order to achieve the best possible plant utilisation.

A number of factors have an impact on efficiency improvement measures:

  • Type of product (primary unit).
  • Type of load carrier (secondary unit).
  • Any palletizing (tertiary unit).
  • Possibility of accumulation and buffering.
  • Manning of the line, and time taken to rectify problems.
  • Reliability of the machines?

When you procure new machines, it is important to consider the aspects of availability and reliability.

Reliability is an assessment of how often problems can be expected to arise and how long it will take to rectify such problems. The rectification time is dependent on the availability ofoperators to resolve the problem and on the operator possessing the necessary skills and knowledge.

The measure of reliability is based on the following factors:
MTBF        Mean time between failure.
MTTR        Mean time to repair.

Bottlenecks and buffer and accumulation areas
You need to perform an analysis and make a decision as to the part of the production line that constitutes a bottleneck. The basic principle is that the bottleneck is the point where the processing value is added to the product, usually where the saleable unit is created or where the primary packaging is added. It is important that this part of the production process is kept in operation, as it is here that the opportunity for profit is created.

The primary rule is that the bottleneck must be provided with conditions to produce at 100%. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to create an accumulation area downstream (i.e. after the bottleneck in the process) that can accumulate and store products if there is a stoppage in processes even further down the line. A typical example of such a stoppage is a situation in which a faulty Euro-pallet has fastened in the palletizer. When the process works efficiently, the accumulation area is always empty.

In the same way, a buffer area is created upstream (i.e. before the bottleneck) that can provide the bottleneck with material if there is a stoppage in processes even further up the line. An example of such a stoppage could be a situation in which product parts or packaging materials (cartons) get stuck. When the process works efficiently, the buffer area is always full.

In this way, the bottleneck (where the product value is created) can continue to produce, even in the event of stoppages due to faults/defects at an early or late stage of the process.

Through this type of design, the line is adapted to the performance of the machines, resulting in reduced downtime and increased line efficiency. The “bottleneck machine” is provided with optimal conditions and thus becomes the primary part of the plant that affects the overall line efficiency.

Would you like to know more about how the team at Qestio can help you analyse the potential savings in your production plant and support you in the implementation of necessary changes? Contact us!