In a deliberate move to enhance customer experience and improve operational efficiency, TuscoMFG invested heavily in a new plant layout that moved its primary workstations (or resource groups) into one area, resulting in streamlined processes and increased throughput. This investment underscores our commitment to delivering exceptional quality products with competitive pricing and faster lead times.
Working With Efficiency Experts to Optimize the Plant Floor
Confucius said, “To know that we know what we know, and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.” We know our expertise is in manufacturing quality metal products and not in plant layouts, so we called in experts. We partnered with the experts at MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network to create efficient material and process flows and optimize our equipment placement.
The approach was to look at how we fabricate products and determine how equipment could be rearranged to increase efficiency. We determined that seven resource groups made up 90 percent of our business volumes, and those were moved into an L-shaped, continuous-flow work zone to create a manufacturing cell. The seven groups are laser cutting, forming, robotic welding, spot welding, PEM insertion, powder coating, and assembly.
Efficiency Gains in All Areas
The cell was set up so that parts move from one station to the next without being stored in between. For example, parts move from laser directly to form. We relocated some of our CNC press brake equipment to be next to the laser, eliminating in-between storage and handling time. Previously, parts traveled 1.3 miles through the shop, often stored until scheduled for the next station.
Planning becomes even more critical to maintain efficiency gains. Job boards showing the team the progress of jobs in the shop are located at each process station hub, making them easier to manage and prioritize. Robotic welders were relocated to the same area, reducing the programming time.
The most significant efficiency gains have been in powder coating and assembly. Previously, we would powder coat parts, they would go into bins, and then we would transport the bins two rooms over to assembly. However, the packaging line was located parallel to the powder coating conveyor, meaning parts had to return to the powder coating area to be packed.
The consultant suggested we turn the packaging line 90 degrees, allowing multiple lines to run in the area. This also enabled us to move assembly. Parts can be assembled directly from the powder coating line without moving to another room. This has reduced the transportation of parts and eliminates the potential for scratches and dings during transport.
Planning is, again, critical. We look at it in reverse operating order and ask: How would we assemble this part? What order do the parts need to be coated in? What hardware do we need to have in place? We strategically place components of an assembly through the powder coating line so they can be assembled and packaged together. This has allowed us to reduce the number of people we’d need to hire because the employees working in powder coating can also package the assembled parts.
This sizable investment in our operations demonstrates our commitment to continued improvement to better serve our customers. These changes have allowed us to further enhance our processes, resulting in lower total costs, less handling, and faster throughput. Do you have a sheet metal project? Contact us to discuss it.