Aspiring to realize the most optimal process

Published on by Systems Assembly

Arie Vogels (44) is team leader of two teams of mechanics that work on various machines. Besides this, Arie works as team leader New Product Introduction which comprises translating new assignments and projects into a reproducible process. The overall objective in both of his roles is creating an optimally arranged process. By going through the entire process with a multi-disciplinary team, all aspects of the manufacturing process are thought out on beforehand. This already starts with a well-considered design that reduces error probability. “Together with our clients we work on creating the most optimal process and on raising efficiency and reducing costs.”

“At the moment I have two roles,” Arie explains. “I am team leader of two teams of mechanics namely of the business line Additive, Apostore and Solaytec and I am team leader of New Product Introduction. The teams I am responsible for, work on the machines of Additive Industries: a 3D-metalprinter, Apostore: a pharmacist’s machine and SoLayTec, a solar cell machine the applies layers to Silicium boards. They are all very nice mechatronic products that we test functionally and deliver plug and play.

Translating new assignments into a reproducible process

“New Product Introduction means that I help translate the assignments and projects that are new for NTS into a process that can be reproduced. Our objective in this is: first-time-right. When something has to be developed three times again after it has been tested, it needs a profound improvement and I plan capacity for it.”

Overall objective: organising the most optimal process

“Creating the most optimal process is my overall objective. Both in my role as team leader for Production as in my role as team leader for New Product Introduction. In order to create this process, we work with various tools and models such as a Value Stream Analysis in which you visualise the value stream on a so-called ‘brown paper’. It among others is about mapping defects, dead times, stocks, information streams and movements. After that, you try to eliminate all possible losses by optimising the process and shortening throughput time.”

Arranging physical workflow by using Spaghetti diagram

“You also have the spaghetti diagram for instance. We use it to gain insight in movements and to see how the physical process is arranged in the workplace, how the workflow is and where there is room for improvement. Subsequently, you look at the current stage and define the future state to achieve the most optimal situation.”

Surprising insights

“It always results in surprising insights. By giving your tools a fixed position for instance, you can arrange your work station in a very structured way and work a lot more efficiently. By equipping workstations with means for fixation you create overview and peace. When you glue an image to an object instead of a written text you decrease the possibility of making mistakes. Images often work a lot better than written lines. Images often need no further explanation whereas text can be interpreted in multiple ways.”

Reducing mistakes starts at the beginning of the process

“Reducing mistakes already starts with the packaging that suppliers use to deliver their products and the way in which materials are transported to the workstations via our storage. In order to do this standardised picking trolleys are arranged. You need to prevent mistakes from being made in the best way you can. As long as you work with people, you simply have a risk that errors will be made. Reducing error probability already starts with a good design. It is better to prevent errors from being made in the design than in the process. That is why we, together with the engineers, try to develop designs in a way that it prevents mistakes from being made. That is extremely important in an environment like NTS as we assemble high mix, low volume, high complexity series.” 

Figure out everything on beforehand

“During the designing process people tend to primarily look at the functionality of products and systems. In the process, however, they lose sight of whether it is still possible to manufacture it. That is why it is important to involve production in the earliest possible stage. It is also important to go through the complete process with a multi-disciplinary team of engineers, planners, buyers, mechanics and team leaders. In this way all aspects of the complete design, assembly and manufacturing process are figured out on beforehand.”

Customer is willing to change design to improve manufacturability

“When customers send us a design of their own, they are often willing to adjust the design if it improves the manufacturability. That is something you simply rather want to deal with in the design than in the process. Moreover, the mechanics use the system to register where delay occurs, how long they work on a specific task and so on... This helps to offer a customer insight in possibilities to raise efficiency and reduce costs.” 

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