Simple solutions for ‘lean’ manufacturing operations
Lean manufacturing and management techniques may well involve capital projects which can mount up to a considerable overall cost. But as Gary Livingstone of Minitec explains, often relatively low cost projects can make big improvements to the operation which will deliver a payback over a very short period of time.
Making an operation lean – and it need not be restricted to a manufacturing operation – is all about the elimination of wastage in a process, leading to greater efficiencies, shorter delivery times of a product or service, and a reduction in unnecessary costs to the operation. Wastage in a process will of course cover all sorts of issues, but the solutions don’t have to be costly or complex, as a recent application illustrates.
The engineering and maintenance division of a well-known UK based airline group discovered an enormously time-wasteful part of the traditional working practice. Quite simply, maintenance engineers were spending a lot of time walking back and forth to computer equipped workstations located around the perimeter of the large hanger. The obvious solution was the introduction of ergonomically designed mobile workstations, that could be positioned close to the section of the aircraft being worked upon.
The new workstations are now an integral part of a highly efficient zonal station where aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul teams are assigned their numerous tasks and allocated tools and equipment via the Wi-Fi connected stations – which are equipped with computers, data displays and printers. Consisting of a mother and extension station for standing use, the various design types build on the flexibility of the Minitec aluminium profile system, and employ a full complement of standard modular components and third-party electronic equipment that is easily integrated into the assembly with standard Minitec adapters and fixings.
The workstations help provide a high quality and consistent approach to aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul. A 2x1.2m inclined working surface is finished in a durable high-density plastic which is impervious to the chemicals and compounds encountered in the aircraft industry. Each workstation supplied includes a power inlet and multi-way distribution boards, a Wi-Fi router, brackets for 32in and/or 24in data displays, and document holders. The fully portable units use lockable swivel castors and the aluminium end and rear panels are finished with the client’s livery and logos for a smart and aesthetic appearance that perfectly blends with the exceptionally clean work areas.
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