Highly integrated and well thought out manufacturing systems have hence become the need of the day.
Cellular manufacturing is based on the Group Technology concept and involves the use of work cells. A Work Cell is a group of equipment and workstations arranged in the logical sequence of production, which can continuously produce a product (or part of a product) without having to wait for subsequent operations. Cells are designed to a product family and offer flexibility in production to meet customer requirements. Cellular manufacturing is an integral part of Lean manufacturing as it helps in creating a smooth flow of materials and shortens the total lead-time for customer delivery. It is also a key enabler to achieve single-piece flow and eliminate 'waste' in the entire value chain of a company.
With manufacturers being driven by ceaseless demands of the customer and product quality migrating from being an order winner into a market qualifier, managing processes and responding quickly form the backbone for survival in this open to all competitive environments. The primary focus of manufacturing cells is to reduce throughput times and lessen inventories to meet market responses. Some of the other benefits include improved resource utilization (both man and machine), better control over quality, space reduction, and work enrichment. Manufacturing work cells can be of four types: Product Focussed Cell, Group Technology Cell, Functional Cell and Project Cell. The key factors that affect the design of an efficient cell can be grouped broadly as the number of process required, number of products that fit into the cell, market segments/requirement, and degree of automation.
There are other components that need to be considered during the design of the work cell, namely, Manufacturing Performance, Product Demand (also referred to as market/customer requirements), Relation between Demand Variability and Operational Flexibility, and Asset Care (equipment characteristics and improvement).
According to Raghavendra Rao, Senior Director, MPC Practice, Frost & Sullivan, SAME, "The benefits of a well planned and implemented work cell can be summarized as improved asset utilization, reduced lead times,improved product quality, better space utilization, lesser blocked capital in inventory, and an overall improved work space."
With the variety of products on offer increasing with customization and evolving customer needs, it is but imperative that a manufacturing facility embraces the advantages of cellular manufacturing in making the plant operations lean and flexible.
If you are interested to know more about cellular manufacturing, please send an email to Caroline Lewis / Nimisha Iyer, Corporate Communications, at caroline.lewis[.]frost.com / niyer[.]frost.com, with your full name, company name, title, telephone number, company email address, company website, city, state and country.
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