End-users squeeze costs from manufacturing

How can automation squeeze costs from manufacturing? Three end-users offered some practical advice based on their experiences at Omron Electronics' "Technology Connection 2003: A Symposium for Editors" on June 26. The meeting also included introduction of a number of new products and input from Omron speakers.

08/01/2003


Schaumburg, IL How can automation squeeze costs from manufacturing? Three end-users offered some practical advice based on their experiences at Omron Electronics' "Technology Connection 2003: A Symposium for Editors" on June 26. The meeting also included introduction of a number of new products and input from Omron speakers.

Ogihara America Corp.

Dennis C. Klotter, assembly engineering manager, says his company, as a supplier for the automotive industry, has scorecards to measure every key area in the plant, as well as a plant-wide scorecard. It's all about identifying what parameters are important, doing real-time data collection, analyzing the information with the proper tools, and connecting to the planning process. Ogihara, with 329 employees at its Alabama facility, uses more than 23 tons of steel per year there to supply parts for vehicles, including the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Nissan UL-Minivan, and the Saturn VUE.

Shell Solar Industries

Eric Culberson, senior project engineer, looks to "improve performance through statistical thinking," along with reducing waste in manufacturing, Jidoka (automation), total productive maintenance, automated Kanban (tying things together), and viewing suppliers as extended factories. With real-time process control, traceability, and working on infrastructure, Culberson says Shell Solar seeks an 8% reduction in costs annually, which translates to "$12 million a year—not chump change for a $150 million operation." This manufacturer of photovoltaic solar cells for earth-based electricity production works on eight areas to support 20% annual market growth:

Kemet Electronics Corp.

Joseph A. Jansen, controls technician, looks at faster and more economical ways of making capacitors at seven manufacturing sites globally, including his in Greenville, SC. His company has taken steps to reduce costs in manufacturing by increasing training, increasing quality of parts, and installing leading-edge technology. "We're making these investments now in the slow economy to create a strong foundation for when things pick up." Programs include internal training of math and writing skills, as well as vendor-taught product training. Best tools include design development packages, human-machine interface systems, next-generation CAD systems, schematic design software, and simulation tools.





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