‘One Piece Flow’ in process organisation and ‘Kanban’ in stockpiling are popular buzzwords, which aptly describe the new strategy at Groschopp. This re-structuring, of benefit for the company as much as for the customer according to Rolf Hinrichsen, managing director of the Groschopp sales company, shows that even with small steps enormous effects can be achieved.
Many innovations, including those in the gear assembly area at Groschopp, were initially started by some unfortunate circumstance, which came to light because of its especially troublesome nature. The Viersen-based enterprise, manufacturer of electromotors and reducer gears, noticed high stock figures in reducer gears due to the large diversity of varying types. This is not only space-consuming and capital-intensive, but “in most cases or at any given moment, the required gears are not in stock”, according to Hinrichsen. The solution, which is being practiced in a new production area in the last few months, looks like this: the various components of the gear are available at the assembly places, and the individual operator assembles each gear completely, as required. This method is suitable especially for the proven and tested worm-gears of the type-series VE31, as they are designed in a modular way. The housings were standardised and made suitable to fit all variations. The gear wheel in the required ratio, which is the main reason for the large diversity of varying types, is then combined together with the housing and bearing caps. The individual operator is not just responsible for the correct assembly of the gear, but also that all necessary components are available in sufficient quantities at all times according to the ‘Kanban’-principle.
A simple example illustrates the advantages of this principle: between 30 and 50 g of lubricant is needed for each gear. These quantities of lubricants do not appear in any procurement planning, and the lubricant is only available in big barrels. Hence, only the operators directly involved can notice the usage, react and re-order in good time. Therefore, every assembly place respectively each ‘One-Piece-Flow-Unit’ is now equipped with its own barrel of lubricant, and any re-ordering is initiated from the correct place, when the need is detected there.
The ‘One-Piece-Flow’-system is especially suitable for products which can be assembled using relatively few process steps and which are required in many variations, some of which are needed in small quantities only. Every operator is capable of performing all necessary work-steps and accompanies the product up to the point, where it is handed over to the next work station. Fluctuations in production and changing over to other variations can be absorbed with this production-organisation without delay. The clearly defined responsibility is mirrored in the quality of the product as well as in the productivity of the production process. The objective is to shorten the delivery time to a few days for all such reducer gears so produced.
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