WCI, Chapter IV (Cost Reduction & Automation)

7 May

As I mentioned in chapter III, I was spending around 40% of my time on troubleshooting day-to-day problems, when I started working on initiating & implementing new projects that I want to touch on in this chapter.

I was aiming for cost reduction, & quality control when managing projects. Every operation I touched on, for evaluation, needed knowledge on equipment design & maintenance! I started reading assembly & manufacturing engineering magazines, & books trying to learn & stay up to date with technology as much as possible: Attended as many robotics, machine tools design shows as possible. Depending on the projects that I was working on, I got training (injection molding, PLC programming,…). I located vendors who were experts in equipment design & automation & worked with them to identify what the best approaches were to design & develop equipment that run successful in operation, & I was learning from hands on troubleshooting old equipment.

This was when I learned about what became popular as “Six Sigma”, “Design For Manufacturing”, “Lean Manufacturing”, “KANBAN”, & “5S” later! I had read the World Class Manufacturing & Total Quality Management principles then. In fact I think that the only reason people developed all other principles, was that too many people could not understand how to apply WCM & TQM to their operations, so someone decided to simplify it.

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The bottom line is that the products’ variations must be controlled & maintained within tolerances, same thing with the equipment, operations’ set ups, and procedures!

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The challenge was how? And that really depends on one’s understanding of science, & the basics of engineering, chemistry, electro-mechanical equipment,…… Next to that was my creative problem solving skills & the very logical mind that just knew how to analyze complex issues!

In addition, I had a manager who was very open-minded & mechanically inclined, he really did not need to be there with me through the entire evaluation processes, but he wanted a well presented justification summary for each capital investment project, backed up with facts.

I managed to learn quite a bit during the five years that I was working on these automation projects, in fact I am able to look at a product now, & rather quickly develop concept designs for its assembly, manual, using fixtures, automated,…  I also am an excellent troubleshooter, & have learned about the need for having quality components to start with, they used to say “crap in, crap out!”.  Fortunate for us our molding & metal fabrications departments were in-house then, so I  learned about controlling those operations as well. I had walked through the entire assembly lines, evaluating the feasibility for automating 230 to 300 operators/ line (line speeds changed).

I also learned a lot about product design & product standardization, materials management, working with vendors for changing & controlling quality standards & packaging designs.

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One the greatest & most valuable lessons I got out of this experience was labor relations. I was left alone to deal with union labors regarding what I was doing there. Between learning from the experience of others in industry through the magazines, & my own logical & ethical thinking, I considered all factors that were involved, & explained to the operators what I was doing & why I was doing it. Truth was that company had to cut cost, if they were to stay in business. Japanese (then) were taking over our market share & we needed to do something about it. In addition, the management had agreed to train & support labors for other work, usually better pays as much as possible.

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One Response to “WCI, Chapter IV (Cost Reduction & Automation)”

  1. manish August 20, 2011 at 11:48 pm #

    ur article contains lot of relevant info…i loved it….

Thank you.

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