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Simple Production Processes

Posted on May 14, 2017 at 11:11am

I have worked with a bunch of companies. Some of them have produced in high volumes, like the automotive suppliers with even up to 10-15 million parts year, and companies with nearly individual, extremely low batch products like the customer specific cabin linings of aircrafts. While there is bunch of huge differences between the production types, there are also quite lot important similarities between them.

The first similarity I found to be equally important for production and product development for both high and low volume series, is the simplicity of the product. Probably I am not telling anything new with this to the “old hands” out there, still, as time advances and experiences grow, new thoughts are running through my head every time I think about simplicity.

The second similarity is, that all the producing equipment are going to wear and degrade. The drill is going to blunt, molding tools are going to abrade, and with it dimensions are going to go out of tolerance. This behaviour is mostly connected to the amount of parts produced.

The third similarity is, that we have to foresee when that equipment is going to wear out to keep up a continuous production and maintenance sequence.

Having these three things in mind, I developed a short definition of a production process being simple:

“Easy to influence its behavior.”

Easy seems to be something we all know “what it is”, but my experience tells me, that different understanding of "obvious" things have caused more problems in this wolrd than anything else. For me something is easy, if it has low cost, labour and time factors. So there we are, at the key factors of influencing, and we can now define what these key factors mean.

Cost: An equipment is far more than its purchasing price. The true price is the purchasing price divided by the time or amount of parts we can produce with it. Anyone can tell you this, who has been around long enough in this business.

Labour: Can also influence the costs severely. There is a huge difference cutting wood with an axe compared to a chainsaw. The same is true for the production/equipment. Spending more time you with work/maintenance, makes an equipment cost more. A $10 equipment wearing out after producing 1 000 parts will not cost the same as a $100 piece ready to manufacture 10 000 parts. It will cost you additional time and money of 9x replacing the tool, not to talk about possible faster takt times. That’s where we see: $1 investment is not always equal $1.

Time: We all know the industry: everyone needs everything asap, but more likely yesterday. The root of this problem is not being able to foresee all factors that influence the equipment/product, and prepare ourselves in time for the changes.

Now what if we could analyse the past experience to foresee what is going to happen in the future? What if we were able to tell how many parts an equipment can manufacture, before going out of tolerance, Cpk, or any other dimensional requirement, and when this is going to happen? If we had the ability to calculate price, labor and delivery, maintenance or implementation times, and create our plan accordingly? Sounds like a smoother process, where the behaviour is easier to be influenced.

That’s why I created the NStat (M)easurement (C)opmarison (S)heet. To estimate when an equipment is going to deliver unwanted results by producing parts out of dimension. To visualize the trends of these dimensions, to compare them to the planned behavior, and to be able to plan for expected events.

With NStat MCS even some unexpected behaviors can be visualized and compared to the standard behaviour of the equipment. So you can deduce potential material defects or other failures.

Go, see it yourself!

Watch a short NStat MCS video here:


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