IMI Eye - page 5

business improvement
IMI Precision Engineering’s Alpen
factory in Germany is split into two
main areas - a 100% ‘make to order’
cylinder factory and the European
Distribution Centre (EDC) including
a logistics operation. The team is
always looking at ways to improve its
Before starting the lean journey, the
assembly area was split into several cells
which were fed by a ‘push’ system out of
the machining area. Having analysed the
situation using a value stream map along
with a spaghetti diagram of the material
flow and people movement, it became
clear the site needed a significant review
of its layout if it was to move from a ‘push’
to a ‘pull’ operation. We needed to
reduce operators’ walking distance by
implementing an efficient milk-run concept,
where the assembly parts are delivered
direct to each workstation. We had a
decentralised logistics structure which was
not efficient. Front-line operational
employees were spending excessive
amounts of time on non-manufacturing
To improve the flow of materials, we
initiated a lean improvement project team,
which quickly identified the need for a
‘tugger train’, to supply the whole
manufacturing operation. We involved all
relevant departments and the works
council, asking for employee feedback
from the start, to ensure their views were
captured. Operators know their machines
and processes best and really helped us
get it right to shape their future workspace.
The transport of standard parts is now
organised with a two-bin Kanban system,
which ensures the continued availability
of component parts used in the
manufacturing process. Materials are
transported from logistics to production by
the tugger-train with finished parts similarly
collected and shipped to the goods receipt
Eva Niemann
Lean Champion, Alpen
IMI Precision Engineering
Introducing a standardised
‘milk-run’ at Alpen
area of the European Distribution Centre.
Workers now do not need to leave their
cells for material handling. The use of
pallet trucks and trolleys is reduced and
the tugger-train drives a fixed route in a
defined cycle time.
This project has reduced logistics-
related tasks by 24%, reduced floor stock
by 53% and reduced the floor space
requirements by 40%. The customers’
experience is also enhanced with an
improved delivery performance. This has
been a GREAT Alpen team effort.
Dimce Fidanovski delivers key components
and collects finished actuators from the
assembly lines at Alpen using the
new tugger train
busine s improvement
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