Comparing Simulation and Value Stream Mapping for Cell Layout
Team Precision Pipe Assemblies Ltd., based in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, manufacture a range of complex precision pipework assemblies for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and other fluid handling components for the automotive industry.
Team Precision produces over five million parts per year; these pipe assemblies are supplied to a variety of companies including leading marques such as Aston Martin, Bentley, Denso (who supply Toyota), as well as Llanelli-based Calsonic Kansei.
Team Precision were seeking collaborative support from ASTUTE 2020 in gaining a better understanding of their current manufacturing capabilities and capacity, and ways to identify possible improvements.
The pipe assemblies manufactured by Team Precision are formed or machined end fittings and are manipulated/bent to meet the customer requirements. The company receive competitive pressure from low-cost economies and customers. This is in order to meet stringent quality standards whilst maintaining low unit costs. Team Precision had a desire to identify and implement improvements in throughput time and quality, and to reduce the need for continuous inspection effected and reduced production line effectiveness.
Team Precision had previously identified key areas within the business technical operations that required improvements. Therefore, the purpose of the collaborative research project was to support the company to understand and evaluate the process capability of the existing systems. In order to identify and verify performance improvements, the research took steps to improve Team Precision’s process capability and shorten lead times through the operations processes.
With the previously identified areas, Team Precision had already begun to implement changes to the production line:
- Functional layout to cellular layout in order to reduce transfer times,
- Tnventory and batch sizes
However, ASTUTE 2020 identified key opportunities for current state mapping of the operations, together with future scenario planning, utilising techniques including value stream mapping (VSM) and discrete event simulations and optimisation of the manufacturing process.
Team Precision and ASTUTE 2020 examined data from different configurations and equipment from the production cell in order to identify key drawbacks of reduced production line effectiveness and the impact of these changes. The use of the different methodologies provided data to inform any necessary changes.
Besides intelligent scheduling of production lines identified, ASTUTE 2020 supported Team Precision to observe and support a VSM exercise to document, analyse and improve the flow of information or materials required on their production cell. Generating and developing such models allowed Team Precision to explore scenarios and help gain a better understanding of a process.
The introduction of a new production cell allowed Team Precision to optimise configuration and efficiency of equipment and labour. Lead-times were significantly reduced and factory floor space was freed up, enabling future investments in new production facilities.
The two-way knowledge transfer enabled the Team Precision engineers to identify opportunities for improvement and requirements for expertise. The comparative research highlighted that by combining operational excellence with simulations and finding synergies, these processes complement one another in an industry 4.0 environment.
Additional benefits arising from the collaboration included:
- Reduced scrappage rates,
- Reduced energy outputs,
- Increased company turnover,
- Opportunity for the purchase of new equipment,
- Production line re-configuration.
The collaboration has allowed Team Precision to continue developing expertise and experience in a field they had little knowledge in and will continue to drive team precision’s future manufacturing productivity.