Cellular Manufacturing
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Cellular Manufacturing


In 1776, Adam Smith, a Scottish economist and philosopher, demonstrated that the division of labor into specific tasks would result in an increase in productivity and that, if each person did his job well, the result would be the common good. This concept was supported by Frederick Taylor, father of the scientific administration, who claimed that the work of specialists dedicated to repetitive tasks would result in a more productive flow. With the application of Henry Ford's concept of production lines, the idea of ​​specializing the work and making it through enormous assembly lines was given greater impetus. Currently the demand and volume conditions have changed from large lots of the same product to small lots with great variety, which makes it impossible to continue working in the same way. Therefore, from its first applications in Toyota by Shigeo Shingo, Lean Manufacturing proposes work in continuous flow. The cellular concept proposes the elimination of the large lots that must be manufactured in each department to prevent the production of some of these areas from being stopped. Now we will seek to introduce a continuous flow from the first to the last operation. In a new perspective, we will not only look for our own good, but also for the common good, with which we will achieve surprising results. Definition Cellular manufacturing is a manufacturing concept in which the distribution of the plant is significantly improved by making production flow continuously between each operation, drastically reducing the response time, maximizing the skills of the staff and making each employee perform several operations. Cellular manufacturing consists of grouping machines and sequential operations, in which it can be manufactured a complete product from start to finish without resorting to the use of transport, eliminating inventories in process and making production flow continuously. In traditional companies, the processes are separated or departmentalized, which causes the materials to be stored, moved and manipulated by many areas before finishing them.


For what is the cellular manufacturing implemented?


The following are some of the utilities of applying manufacturing cells:


- It gives continuity to the operations of a plant.

- Eliminates inventories in process that have an economic cost and generate defects in handling.

- Create flexible processes by producing various products in a single area.

- Increase the flexibility and efficiency of companies.

- It allows operators to be more efficient since the same can be produced with fewer people. - Operators are involved in more tasks related to the product, to the extent that sometimes - a single worker produces a complete article, thus increasing their sense of belonging to - that product.

- Directly connects the operations to avoid transports, delays, movement of materials, inventories in process and overproduction.


When is cellular manufacturing used?


The cellular manufacturing is used when we need to shorten the response times of a process or delivery time to the customer, through a greater variety and low volumes or means of production. Its also used when market demand starts to be very variable and the range of products demanded is greater than before.


How long does it take to implement cellular manufacturing?


For the design of new processes, one or two months are needed, since not always there is information available necessary to support the project, and research is necessary. If it is about redesigning existing processes, it can take from one to two weeks, since it is easy to collect the necessary information and there are elements to do it in a short time. However, in some companies, this time may be longer due to the change of location of the Work stations may require foundations or special facilities.


Useful tools and concepts for the application


1- The 5 S's are an essential tool to facilitate the implementation activities of manufacturing cells.


2- Consider the implementation of TPM before implementing manufacturing cells. This will make your calculations more realistic and your equipment more reliable to work in a cellular environment.

3- Certify your operators in various operations and create a training matrix in which your operators are able to operate, maintain and analyze the quality in each work center.


4- Ensure the supply of materials at all stations using the Kanban system or other methods so that production never stops due to lack of materials.


5- Perform visual controls so that workers understand their operations thoroughly using visible boards and instructions in their workplace.


6- Apply Andon or visual control (lamps, sounds or other means) to communicate that material, maintenance, assistance, etc. are needed. In this way, the support team will know about the anomalies without the operator leaving his workplace and the cell will remain productive.


7- Establish measurements of the progress of the work every hour in which the operators record the production they have done at that moment and compare it with the production they should have done.


8- If possible, establish work from piece to piece (lots of size one). This is achieved by balancing the production cell and causing operators to move the materials directly from operation to operation as the process progresses.


9- Consider the SMED application (rapid change) to ensure that the cell works at its maximum potential and support the production of unit lots.

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