Lean Manufacturing Blog

9 Scenarios of Common Assembly Line Issues

Created: 08 September 2015

To explain how eFlex Assembly might support the assembly line issues you are facing, the following are 9 common scenarios we frequently hear from engineers.

1. Over (or Under) Producing Due to a Change in Demand

The Issue

Are dramatic changes in your industry forcing you to rethink your manufacturing strategies? There is a new landscape emerging that requires manufacturers to move and change at lightning speed. Whether you’re experiencing changes in the market for lower (or higher) demand for specific products, an inflexible assembly line and lack of proper tools makes rebalancing your assembly line costly and time consuming.

The Solution

Rapidly accommodate production schedule changes due to spikes in customer demand with eFlex Assembly. You can easily rebalance your assembly line within hours to meet changing demands with eFlex Assembly’s Process Configuration Tool and its “plug-n-play” hardware and software architecture.

 

2. Diminishing Returns on Lean Manufacturing Efforts

The Issue

If your company has successfully embraced lean methods for assembly, but is now seeing diminishing returns from your Kaizen efforts, it may be time for a paradigm shift to keep PDCA moving.

The Solution

Stop “splitting hairs” in continuous improvement efforts and take the next step in lean assembly with technology. The technological advancements of eFlex Assembly can take you to the next level and provide a complete solution for your assembly operations.

The modular design makes rebalancing or reconfiguring the line simply a matter of unplugging and re-plugging the equipment.
Perform line changes with the Process Configuration Tool, instead of ladder logic.
Validate a change with the Process Improvement Tool.
Run line balance scenarios offline with the Process Engineering Tool. The software is all pre-written and validated, which eliminates development and debugging when rebalancing the line.

3. Lack of Real-Time Information

The Issue

Many manufacturing assembly lines do not have the infrastructure or the tools to identify problem areas and analyze the entire assembly line process from one central location. Without accurate, ongoing, real-time information about your assembly line, you are not equipped to foresee potential issues or quickly react to them when they arise.

The Solution

Whether you need ongoing information, periodic status updates or data to observe a recent line change, it is imperative to have a tool to continually monitor and analyze your assembly line. The Process Improvement Tool in eFlex Assembly provides you with real-time, continuous and standardized task level data to provide analysis for every station in your assembly process. With a good understanding of your assembly line, you can easily identify problems and make accurate decisions to meet the changing demands of your assembly line.

4. Unbalanced Station Workloads

The Issue

If some of your assembly line stations are underutilized or over utilized, you are likely experiencing bottlenecks and efficiency issues. One reason your line may be poorly balanced is because it was based on industry timing standards and documents which did not accurately reflect the real task timing at each station.

The Solution

The quality control, data collection and statistical analysis available with eFlex Assembly works well with all station types. The line balance simulator in the Process Engineering Tool takes advantage of the built-in time study of all interlocked tasks. This timing information allows you to continuously average those tasks and have more actual time estimates to appropriately balance the work. The ability to rebalance lines is best realized in the stations with direct manual labor, although it can help automated assembly lines that are inherently more rigid and specialized.

5. WIP or Manufacturing Cycle Time

The Issue

If there is a lack of knowledge about your assembly line process and/or unrealistic production quotas, you may be experiencing unnecessary buffers and product storage areas (WIP) that are negatively impacting your bottom line.

The Solution

The Process Improvement Tool in eFlex Assembly evaluates cycle times (takt times), non-conforming product related to tasks, manufacturing lead time and WIP. Therefore, you will have real-time data to easily identify where unnecessary WIP is occurring for you to assess how best to reduce or eliminate the issues causing this waste.

6. Lengthy Changeover Time

The Issue

Do you need a solution for quicker manufacturing line changeovers? You may be reducing or eliminating changeovers because of the cost and time needed to conduct a lengthy changeover process, and as a result are overproducing inventory.

The Solution

eFlex Assembly is a production line life cycle management tool with an inherent adaptability that can do diverse tasks, at varying rates, with on-the-fly changeover, in far less time than previously possible. The “plug-n-play” architecture with agreed upon standardize processes can cut your changeover time in half. Depending on the complexity of the changeover, eFlex Assembly will also provide the error proofing and efficiency to make the changeover smoother.

7. Late Product Launches on New Assembly Lines

The Issue

When launching a new assembly line, you may find it difficult to develop both the product and the assembly line within the typical aggressive program timing requirements. Traditionally, the product is developed and then each station process is clarified prior to building the assembly line, which takes considerable time when done in this order.

The Solution

When launching a new assembly line, the advantage of eFlex Assembly is that you can simultaneously develop the product and the assembly line process to meet aggressive delivery deadlines. Both end user and the assembly line builder benefit from proceeding with the manufacturing of the new assembly line in parallel.

8. Low Production Quality

The Issue

Without the proper tools, you may have difficulty identifying the station(s) or location(s) causing quality issues within the assembly process. When implementing changes to improve quality, you also may not know how the changes are impacting line efficiency.

The Solution

With eFlex Assembly, easily pinpoint quality issues at the source of the problem because the stations are interlocked to ensure high quality before they release a part to the next station. Once you implement a change to improve quality, the standardized analytics in the Process Improvement Tool will help you evaluate the current status of your line’s quality and cycle time to determine how a recent change has impacted your line quality and efficiency.

9. Late Product Launches on Existing Assembly Lines

The Issue

When modifying an existing assembly line for a new product or model within a given timeframe, the launch may be delayed due to time consuming and expensive reconfiguration, including redefining and hard coding each station in the line.

The Solution

Simultaneously develop the product and the assembly line process to meet aggressive customer delivery deadlines with eFlex Assembly. When modifying an existing assembly line, the Process Configuration Tool provides a central configuration location to quickly reconfigure your entire assembly line in hours without recoding or stopping operations.

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Resources

Assembly Line Comparison Study:

Flexible Assembly Line vs Highly Automated Fixed Tooling

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Your assembly line’s output must reflect market demand, adapt in a fraction of the time, and maintain quality. Download this case to see a comparison between two assembly lines: one highly fixed and the other flexible.

  

Inflexible Assembly Line Case Study:

"Market Change Results in Lost Sales Due to 'Inflexible' Fixed Tooling Assembly Systems"

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Read this case study to learn how a global manufacturer with an “inflexible” assembly lines was NOT prepared to handle an overnight shift in demand, resulting in lost sales. To fix this issue, this major automotive manufacturer implemented eFlex Assembly on their global powertrain assembly lines to achieve great results!

 

Case Study:

eFlex Vision Processes 200,000 Images Per Day on a High Volume Transmission Assembly Line

Download this CaseStudy

A large automotive manufacturer uses eFlex Vision to process over 200,000 process images per day, at roughly 200 images per minute. Learn how eFlex Vision increases their image accessibility and reliability, reduces complexity and maintenance costs, decreases response time to camera issues, provides camera audit trail tracking and much more.