A simple rail system, Strothmann GmbH’s RoundTrack, enables machine manufacturers, for example, to set up production flow-lines with ease is available in the UK, and German firms have already benefited.
Flow-line production in the automotive industry is commonplace, but machine manufacturers, on the other hand, have not applied this to their plants, even though flow production optimises efficiency even in production processes with long assembly cycles consisting of several complex, time-consuming steps.
Trumpf, Austria, for example, employs RoundTrack to move semi-finished bending machines through its Pasching assembly hall in. As a result, production resembles an assembly line: when one cycle is finished, the machines which are mounted on trolleys proceed to the next station along the tracks.
Throughput times have been reduced by half, and productivity, which amounted to about 500 units per year before, has been doubled. “The system can be easily installed in existing facilities, and investment costs are not very high,” says Thomas Saiko, plant manager at Trumpf. “Additionally, it runs very smoothly. It is even possible to move our machine tools which weigh several tons by hand.”
Deckel Maho has achieved similar results in a plant for universal milling machines: throughput times were reduced by 40 per cent. Several unsuccessful attempts to set up flow-line production had already been made, after which the idea was initially rejected. It was not until the company's management team visited Japan where organised factories were the rule. The workflow was clearly structured throughout and work stations were tidy.
Author: Andrew Allcock