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We spoke to Salvador Gázquez, Operations Manager at ITC, about the benefits the company has enjoyed thanks to this new model.
Salvador, why was a new assembly system established?
We needed a way to better organise our assembly section as the product range had increased considerably. The number of units per order had also increased and we were receiving orders for any model asking for anywhere between 1 and 200 units. We needed to devise a new method that would allow us to give customers precise delivery time frames and enable us to be more productive.
Can you tell us about the journey to taking this decision?
We contacted Leanbox asking for advice and their help in launching the project.
They used Value Stream Mapping (VSM) and detected different points that could be improved.
What proposals were made to increase productivity?
After the data was gathered and then analysed, one option suggested was to design a U-shaped cell to improve productivity in manufacturing our main product families. Rather than working to improve assembly speed, the aim was to prioritise being able to assemble any model, starting from scratch, whether it’s for 1 unit or X number of units.
The first step was knowing what our weekly pump assembly capacity had to be to meet all of our customers’ requirements.
The aim of the U-shaped manufacturing cell is really simple: manufacture unit by unit, eliminating all wastage (such as unnecessary movements, and reducing intermediary stocks of pumps being manufactured and raw material stocks).
In addition to establishing a U-shaped cell, other physical changes were made. These included:
What results have you seen in the two years since this new system was introduced?
The main changes were:
What is the secret to the new system’s huge success?
All technical projects like this are closely connected to the people involved. They are the ones who must adapt to the new production system and embrace it. The project has been extremely successful thanks to the engagement of our excellent staff members.
At present, ITC’s internal team is keeping up its training with continuous improvement with a view to fully establishing our new way of working. Continuous improvement is essential to us maintaining and increasing our productivity.
Tracking and interpreting KPIs, combined with problem-solving techniques, like the five whys, are key to us refining our method day after day and implementing small developments that will be assimilated and combined to achieve our targets.
Today, the ITC team is adapting its assembly processes for all other product families. But our philosophy remains the same: lean manufacturing.