“Manufacturing is more than just putting parts together. It’s coming up with ideas, testing principles and perfecting the engineering, as well as final assembly” James Dyson
We support manufacturing organizations in setting new standards in the following areas:
- New Product Industrialization of mechanical transmissions;
- Manufacturing Capability Acquisition activities;
- Definition of production systems.
“I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself” E. Musk
The new product industrialization of mechanical transmissions embraces all the activities required to bring products into life and they are typically owned by Manufacturing Engineers.
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The Manufacturing Capability Acquisition is a set of activities which aims to identify, assess, acquire and implement new manufacturing capability. The overall process is structured according to the Manufacturing Readiness Level framework, a Stage-Gate approach developed by the United States Department of Defense (DOD) to assess the maturity of manufacturing readiness. Nowadays MRLs are widely used in industry to mitigate risks associated to the implementation of manufacturing capabilities.
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As industrial competition increases, it becomes more apparent that improved levels of output, efficiency and quality can only be achieved by designing better production systems rather than by merely exercising greater control over existing ones. The design of a production system comprises a linked set of widely ranging activities and involves problems common to a variety of situations, regardless of the technology and process being used.
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Gear Manufacturing (NPI)
ATC is able to provide support in the New Product Industrialization process of mechanical transmissions:
The first step is to understand:
- Financial Requirements (e.g. final costs);
- Technical Requirements (e.g. specifications, dimensions, tolerances);
- Project Requirements (e.g. time schedule, resources).
With these basic information, a preliminary industrialization plan can be defined.
The second step consists to develop a preliminary industrialization plan, which includes, but not only:
- Number and skills of people involved in the project;
- Budget estimated;
- Time schedule;
- Potential bottlenecks.
Concurrent Engineering is a systematic approach to the integrated, concurrent design of products and their related processes, including manufacturing and support. This approach is intended to cause the developers, from very outset, to consider all elements of the product life cycle, from conception to disposal, including quality cost, schedule, and user requirements. In this phase, potential capability gaps must be also investigate.
Concurrent Engineering may have a huge impact on production costs, compared to a more traditional approach.
The Method of Manufacturing implies the definition of the entire processing route, from raw material to final inspection, including, but not limited to:
- shape at each process stage;
- machine selection;
- tools & fixture definition;
- inspection method;
- work instruction;
- stack up analysis.
A Process Failure Mode Effects Analysis (PFMEA) is a structured analytical tool used by an organization, business unit, or cross-functional team to identify and evaluate the potential failures of a process. This document it is normally required by suppliers especially when a PPAP approach is applied. However, PFMEA is a very powerful tool to prevent criticalities within a manufacturing process.
The definition of Tools & Fixtures can be considered a “process inside the process”. Indeed, in some cases it is really necessary to develop new solutions to fulfill requirements, including feasibility, delivery time and cost. ATC has gained several years of experience in the design and implementation of tools & fixtures in the gear manufacturing business. Therefore, ATC is capable to support the T&F team to identify the most appropriate solution.
Manufacturing Capability Acquisition
ATC is able to support the Capability Acquisition Team in the initiation phase, which includes:
Capability Acquisition implies the use of a structured and meticulous approach. However, following the MRL framework involves a big effort for resources, especially in term of time and cost. Therefore, before to start a MRL project, it is convenient to assess if it is really worth it.
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If the answer is “yes”, the first step is to provide people involved in MCA projects an overview of MCA methodology.
When a MRL project starts, it is convenient to perform a preliminary financial analysis to identify cost benefits and potential gaps.
Stakeholders analysis is another important step to focus on. Indeed, it is fundamental to identify who are our stakeholders and how to behave with them in order to mitigate future risks.
What are your customer expectations? How to fulfill their requirements? To answer these questions, it is necessary to identify their needs. Most of the time, this phase is underestimated, but it happens quite often that customers don’t know what they want.
MRL are innovative projects, and by definition, innovative projects are associated with risks. Moreover, in case of manufacturing capabilities, we are often talking of big investments, therefore high risks. For these reasons, it is fundamental to prevent and mitigate risks properly.
In the project planning phase, the time schedule is defined, as well the budget and human resources.
The Project Charter can be defined as the heart of any organized effort to acquire new capabilities. It contains the reasons the project has been started, the goals, objectives, guidelines, and boundaries of the project. It is the “who, what, where, when and why” of the product development project. The Launch Pack consists basically in the collection of all the documentation generated in the previous points.
The last step is a kick off meeting, where the project, in the form of the Project Charter, is finally discussed with the Management and eventually bought-off.
Production System Design
Whether you need to implement a new production cell or improve an existing system, ATC provides you the right support. Implementing a manufacturing cell implies several steps:
The first step implies the definition of the production system requirements like, but not limited to:
- Space availability;
- Product Variation;
- Max throughput;
- Budget availability;
- Overall Equipment Effectiveness.
In this sense, using a proper method and right tools becomes essential to achieve the expected result.
A project plan can be done once the basic project requirements and boundaries are defined and well understood.
The third step implies a preliminary analysis of the manufacturing and/or assembly sequence. This phase is critical, because it affects all the downstream steps.
The fourth step is probably the most time consuming and implies a detail definition of the overall manufacturing and/or assembly process, including, but not limited to:
- set up and process time;
- type and numbers of machines, fixture, tools;
- type and number of workers;
- estimated moving time between different stations;
- corrosion prevention solution;
- lifting solutions.
The Discrete Event Simulation is a very powerful tool which is used to size and estimate key indicators. A DES models the operation of a system as a discrete sequence of events in time. Each event occurs at a particular instant in time and marks a change of state in the system. Between consecutive events, no change in the system is assumed to occur; thus, the simulation time can directly jump to the occurrence time of the next event, which is called next-event time progression. Typical indicators are:
- max throughput;
- production cost;
- lead time;
- machine and workers utilization;
To reduce the waste of time associated with unefficiencies within the line, it is recommended that all stations last pretty much the same amount of time. This step can be done by using a DES or, in a more simple (but less accurate) way by excel file.
“Lay-out identically involves the allocation of space and the arrangement of equipment in such a manner that overall operating costs are minimized” James Lundy
Process Simulation is a useful approach to analyze important factors like, but not limited to:
- space utilization;
- fixture size.
The Virtual Build Event consists in a 1 or 2 day workshop in which the team and stakeholders assess the final concept by exploiting Virtual Reality capability.