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Topic Title: Need help / Cell Layout in Fabrication dept.
Topic Summary: Resistance from Fabrication Tech on moving to call layout.
Created On: 11/06/2008 03:36 PM
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11/06/2008 08:30 PM
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SMRogers
Sean Rogers



We are in process of moving into a new facility and I had the opportunity to do my first plant layout. We are looking to add additonal equipment to our fabrication department. We currently have 2 shears, 2 turrets, and 2 breaks. We are looking to add a 3rd break and a laser cutting machine. I am pushing to go to a cellular layout. My Fabrication Tech who was the previous formen in that department is passionately against it. He is stating that a Fabrication cell should consist of all like equipment. Shears together, breaks together ect. I have tried to explain to he that that is contradictary to Lean priciples, but have not had much success. Not having any fab experiance myself, I am looking for input from those who have been down this road and can offer some insight into this.
11/06/2008 10:33 PM
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englee
Eng Lee Chew



Hi Sean,
If you have been asked to do this, it would means that top management has given you the job and it would also means that top management has some insight about lean. Work on a proposal, come out with a layout plan, future state map, operator balancing chart, before after measures and sell it to the management and the fabrication tech together. I belief you will get more success this way than dealing with the tech alone. Thanks
11/07/2008 10:11 AM
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LeanJeff
Jeff Fuchs



Sean,
I have rarely found that an appeal to principles alone is persuasive in gaining buy-in to major changes like going to cellular production. Your Fabrication Tech is responding to you based upon his beliefs about what works and what doesn't. Those beliefs are based upon his experiences - what he has observed and lived through himself. What can you offer that provides a new frame of reference that is as persuasive? As Eng Lee suggests, sometimes layout diagrams and operator balance charts work. In my experience, showing people on paper is not the most persuasive way to make your case. Are there any examples of lean manufacturing cells near to you that you can bring the Tech and others to visit? Are there any training videos that you can show that illustrates the concepts in motion? Are there any hands-on exercises that you can do as a group that helps make your case? These are some of the best ways I have found to create a clear and compelling future state image in people's minds. Appealing to theory and principle alone rarely works.

Best of luck!

Jeff
11/07/2008 10:12 AM
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Shahrukh_Irani
Shahrukh Irani



Originally posted by: SMRogers I am pushing to go to a cellular layout....He is stating that a Fabrication cell should consist of all like equipment. Shears together, breaks together ect.....Not having any fab experiance myself, I am looking for input from those who have been down this road and can offer some insight into this.

>
[SAI] You are right. What the other person is referring to is a "process village" or "functional department". Look at the parts you make in terms of features --- features produced on the shears, on the turrets, on the brake presses, and so on. Then create a spreadsheet that lists all your parts down the rows and these shape features in the columns. Run a Group Technology part family formation analysis on that. You ought to see something called "cascading" in the flow routes ie. simple routes like 1 machine and out leading up to 3-4 machines and out. So, not knowing your mix, volume, demand stability, etc. I would yes to have a few cells. But cells will cost you flexibility. There is a way to retain your shop as a series of "process villages" but run these "cellular lines" side-by-side --- thereby you get your value streams by part family and yet are able to retain your similar machines in process groups for loading flexibility, maintenance hand-offs, absenteeism, training, etc. disruptions to the cellular flows. Can you send me some sample routings? Great problem, great start to solving it. All the best!
11/07/2008 10:12 AM
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SMRogers
Sean Rogers



All that is done. Managment is on board. My issues is that the Tech will not buy in. In addition he still has a close relationship with the workers in that department and his constant criticism of the changes to the guys in the department, is causing pre judgement and negative feedback by the floor before the changes are ever made. Management puts a lot of consideration on feed back from the floor and I just feel like if I continue to move forward with it, I will be wasting my time because the floor has been convinced that it will not work.
11/07/2008 10:12 AM
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187204
Robert Greenop



I agree with Englee in doing a layout and future state map of the cell and the way the Tech wants to do it. Make sure you include all the inventories and Takt times at each process step. This will definitely show which is the better method, the cell.
11/07/2008 10:44 AM
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SMRogers
Sean Rogers



Jeff Fuchs,
You are correct. All I have is paper. I have done a layout. Sevral actually. However with only being involved with Lean for a little over a year, I dont have much real life examples to offer. This is what I was hopeing to find in this Forum. Someone who has been down this road in a Fab department and can offer Data or insight. I am not looking to be proven right, maybe there is an alturnative or something "outside the box" that we should concider. The one thing I have to my advantage is, we have gone the cells in one of our product lines and have had huge success. On paper I can prove my case, but you are right I need more to turn the tide...
11/07/2008 10:44 AM
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182252
William Utz



Hello,
I ran a steel fabrication shop in the 80s-90s for about 12 years and sure enough we had machines grouped together by function. One of the benifits of this layout was that you could stage your materials for the shears in a common area with easy access from the dock to the storage racks. However one of the downfalls of this layout was that it was very batch oriented, required large storage area for work in process and made for a long lead times.
If you could pick a job that was fairly simple to layout to try and show the tech the benifits of a celluar layout it may help.
One thing to keep in mind is that the tech may be right about grouping the machines by function and you may have to settle for combining secondary operations internal to some of the primary operations ie, moving a sander next to a saw so that the parts are deburred as they are cut.
Sometimes you have to win small battles before you can win the war.

Good luck,

5s Leader
11/07/2008 01:50 PM
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SMRogers
Sean Rogers



You may be right. I am not looking to be victorious, I am looking for whats best for the dept. Our lead time in our Fab dept is the same as the lead in our production cells. 3-5 days depending on product. The difference being is the cells run 4 to 5 times the man hours in those same 3-5 days. You are absolutly correct we have a lot of inventory sitting a waiting to be ran. Staging areas in between each of the machines.

Example
Customer XYZ takes 5 actual man/machine hours to run thought Fab but it takes us 3 days to get it though the department. Once it gets to the production/assembly floor the man hours on that same unit is 48 and they get it run though in 3 days.

I know there is a tremenbus opportunity in Fab, I cant seem to hit the nail on the head.
11/07/2008 01:50 PM
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pc2
P. Cartagena



Originally posted by: SMRogers.... The one thing I have to my advantage is, we have gone the cells in one of our product lines and have had huge success....


Since it's already proved successful for your organization you should have the workers from that cell explain the benefits to the team in the area that will be changed.


PC.
11/11/2008 02:53 PM
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96075
Tom Greding



Originally posted by: SMRogers

I dont have much real life examples to offer. This is what I was hopeing to find in this Forum. Someone who has been down this road in a Fab department and can offer Data or insight.

Sean,

I once worked with an offshore supplier who had a shop full of stamping and drawing presses and a couple of shears. All the presses were all lined up in a nice straight row, from smallest to biggest. The shears were on the end, and the drawing presses went down the other side. This makes for a nice looking, organized shop, but as you can imagine, the product flow did not follow this same order of smallest press to biggest. Their presses were all hand-fed, single stage die processes, and a typical part had to go through the shear and then 5-6 presses before it was stamped complete. The process went something like this: Run a strip of steel through the sheer to cut it into little squares. Place in basket. Move to press operation #1. Stamp. Place in basket. Move to press operation #2... and so on. The parts would criss-cross all over the press shop, with piles of inventory in between each operation.

When production ramped up to higher levels, it became rather obvious that this layout was creating problems. Eventually they decided (with a little encouragement) to rearrange their presses in a more process flow oriented arrangement. (A part-process matrix can be helpful here.) We found the most common groupings and moved all the presses around. In most cases a part could go through one press operation, placed on a little slide where it slid down to an adjacent press for the next operation, and so on down the line. Press capacity increased by around 30% or so, processing time dropped from a couple of days to usually less than an hour, and WIP was also reduced.

I have found that when people think about equipment layout options, they often think about what is the easiest/most efficient layout from an operator's perspective. If you have an operator or operators who only run the shear, then it seems most logical to put all the shears together, etc. It sounds to me like this is what your tech is thinking. Instead, the "lean" way is to think about the layout from the perspective of the part travelling through the process. If you cross-train all your operators to run all the different processes within the cell, then you can resolve an issue your tech might have about people having to travel further since you moved all of the like machines further away from themselves. The biggest benefit is that a shop with machines arranged by process rather than by machine type is then one step closer to one-piece flow. You will spend a lot less time material handling (bending over, placing part in basket, moving basket, bending over, retrieve part from basket, etc.) which will have a direct impace on your throughput, since your people will have more time to spend adding value to the part instead of moving it around. Better capacity, better throughput, less WIP--life will be good!

Good luck.

-tom.
11/11/2008 02:53 PM
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englee
Eng Lee Chew



Dont get too hung up on the Tech. Remember some will change some won't change. If you have done your best to "convert" this guy and it is still not working, you have 3 choice:-

1) Keep finding examples to show him hoping that he will be converted someday.

2) tell the truth to the management and let them know your problem. Part of the meaning of management support is not just to nod their head but to be directly involve in the shop floor. So if the management has been in the shop floor doing Gemba they would have also seen this problem. So this may be the next clue as to what you can try.

3) Take lead of the project and work it finish it and then go back to the tech and explain to him why it can work.

If management only sits in the office and does not do Gemba, you will not be able to sustain any of the work because you will have people like the tech who is behind sabotaging the lean effort. Not his fault but our human habits resisting change out of fear.
11/11/2008 03:07 PM
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SMRogers
Sean Rogers



Thank you all for your input. I have come to the conclusion that the Tech will not change his mind. The problem I have is some of the equipment is monument type. (special foundations). The riggers are due in on 12/1 and I/we need a finalized layout by middle of next week. So, I plan to submit my layout perposal along with the Tech layout with data for but and the "Powers That Be" will need to make the call. I feel confident that they will see things my way, I just wish I had everyones buy in.
11/12/2008 09:18 AM
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upnorth
J Smith



Sean,

Many good things have been stated in this thread. Things such as comparing the current state map with a future state map, looking for other examples or sources locally, where a field trip may be in order to help the education process. I also agree with Jeff in the fact that paperwork alone will not probably convince the Tech that change is in order. William piggy backs a good suggestion for utilizing secondary operations in a cell. Tom hits it on the head when he discusses waste in transportation and WIP. Once again, this is a good discussion.

But I have to ask one question. What about the people? The actual employees doing the work on the machines? All I have seen in this thread is the top management is in support and that the Fabrication Tech is not on board. What about the workers? Build support for your change for the better. This is not only a great opportunity for your company and for the fabrication area, but also for the employees in that area. Your numbers how this can be an improvement for the employees that work within the new cellular arrangement on a daily basis?

Having 10 years in fabrication experience (shears, turrets, plasma tables, punches, brakes, water jets, notchers, bevellers, etc.) and 11 years experience in a company with a second to none machine shop and the last 4+ years of this experience being on the LEAN journey, I have very strong convictions that you have to get the buy-in at the bottom level as well. Maybe the person in the middle is a roadblock. Larry Rubrich stated that one of the 10 reasons for LEAN implementation failure is "the lack of middle management/supervision buy-in." I can attest to this fact in our own company of 450 employees. Management has invested a great amount of time and effort in the education of our people in the middle (above the time invested with all employees, bottom to top). Several of our "roadblocks" have either decided to get on board, or get off the bus.

Take this to the people. Make sure the Fabrication Tech is in your group to give experienced input. However, make sure the Tech does not over power or dominate the meeting. Make sure you facilitate the meeting and draw in the employees by asking them questions and waiting for their responses (the Tech included). Have upper management in the meeting to show support for the journey forward. Upper management may not have to say a word (they can sit in the back and show support just by being there). In my experience having all three levels present has helped and is still helping us move forward in our LEAN journey.

Keep taking one step at a time, the journey continues.
11/12/2008 09:18 AM
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pc2
P. Cartagena



Sean,

It looks to me that your business would be ideal for a simple Lean simulation game to get the point across. I think you could easily devise a demonstration of work cells vs. process villages for your group using common office supplies.

You could make simple analogs for your processes by using printer/copier paper to build origami figures or paper airplanes. Design your "product" using a process with scissors (shears), hole punches (turrets) and folding (brakes). Then have your people build them in both configurations.


PC.
11/12/2008 09:19 AM
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198826
Pedro Vizcaino



Sean,

Think the inconvenient comes because the manager and workers had never seen that something different works. I suggest that youy can make the new Layout and in the mean time draw a spaghetti diagram of the actual process and compare with you proposal. That way they will see the advantages of the new Layout. Be prepare to explain them how yous proposal will improve the lead time, cycle time, material flow, inventory turn, cycle count, etc.

Pedro Vizcaino
11/12/2008 10:44 AM
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IEJuan
Juan Salinas



Sean,

You are correct, your Fab Tech has and will continue to have a big influence on the Fab Shop workers. It seems to me that he does not understand lean and is basically against change. In the past what I have done to "fight" this type of scenario is to find another person within the Fab Shop or just out on the shop floor who is considered a leader and who is open to change. Once you bring this new team member on board, he will help you get genuine feedback on the proposed ideas and in return you will be bale to come up with the best layout. Shop leaders will always have the uppen hand on you because they are "one of the guys" and they will remain out on the floor when you go back to your desk.

Other things to consider:

1. Simulation (some people needs a visual method to understand the proposed changes)
2. A Group Technology analysis is also a great idea.
11/12/2008 12:44 PM
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72721
David Ewing



Sean,
You're doing the right thing. I've spent the past 5 years moving a sheet metal fab operation from dept./ large batch to cell/ small batch. Your tech probably feels threatened, and your people are always smarter than you think. They will see the benefits and want to make it work. The tech will either get on board or be left behind.

Some technical points: Hit SMED at the brakes hard. Fabricators have a love affair with lasers and turrets, but your brake operation can determine your fate. Ask yourself why you need the shears. Pre-cut blanks and/ or full sheet cutting and punching is often cheaper than the additional labor intensive shearing operation. Always map the value stream. What will be pulled through these cells and how will you divide it - by product, by gauge, by type of material?

Finally, get a cost accountant on your side now. Look at how the old dept. GL's are connected versus how the cells will flow. Make sure he understands the intial impact of WIP reduction. Start talking lead time and cash flow. Your tech can't argue with documented financial results.
11/14/2008 02:10 PM
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Robert_Simonis
Robert Simonis



Sean,

It is a shame that the deadline will force a decision without thorogh analysis and buy-in.

If you had the time I would recommend that you define your criteria for selection (what is important? Cycle time, lead time, inventory costs, labor input, square footage, capital costs, etc.) After determining what criteria solutions will be measured, then have a cross-functional team develop several possible solutions and measure them against this criteria.

If the situation is politically charged or the skill set of industry experience and tool set use is not present; it may be the right situation to engage a consultant to lead this brainstorming, solution development, modeling, and buy-in process. Sometimes it takes an outsider to play the role of dis-interested outsider and referee to guide a team or, if necessary, declare that "the emporer has no clothes".

My initial impulse is that a laser cutter usualy becomes a monument because it is too specialized and not right-sized to support a single value stream but your situation may be different.

Good luck.
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