How do companies ideally tackle problems of a technical nature varying from the need to improve productivity or reduce the use of processes in surface treatment or deal with a powder coating issue ?
Take the case of a leading electrical panel manufacturing company who worked on identifying and resolving issues in the manufacturing process.
Electrical panel, Control panel, PLC The company embarked on an exercise with its supplier of steel (GP) to jointly identify and resolve problem areas
- Wastage of material during sheet metal cutting, resulting in yield loss.
- Increase in consumption of phosphating chemical, thus increasing the cost.
Shop floor visit, planning and studies
The company chose to work with the supplier of steel and began with setting up a cross functional team comprising persons from the customer's organisation, sales personnel from the distributor, Steel Company application engineers and coating expert to examine the problems being faced at customer's workplace. The team worked out a course of action on the basis of data collected/analysed over six months and subsequently, generated ideas.
Analysis and problem solving
The customer needed material in different sizes but was ordering standard sizes (1250 X 2500 mm). After extracting the required sizes, the balance material was left as wastage. All the size requirements were evaluated and based on it, the nest in size was calculated. The distributor began to supply material in the sizes needed and wastage was eliminated.
The customer was using chromated material. After forming, the same material was processed through pre-treatment processes, and subsequently it was sent for powder coating. Now theory says, chromic acid Cr+6 poisons the bath and thus, reduces the strength of phosphating. As the customer was using chromated material, the phosphating bath needed to be dumped frequently for low strength - thus, increasing the consumption of phosphating chemicals
Two suggestions were given to the customer
- Use of oiled material only.
- For same chromated material, avoid the phosphating. Send same material for direct powder coating.
Trials undertaken for both the cases at customer's organisation
- In first case, the consumption of phosphating chemical reduced. Tentative saving ~ Rs 1 lacs per month
- For second case, though the result was found satisfactory, according to the specifications they had to comply with phosphating. So the idea was dropped.
- Zero rejection in forming line
- Reduction in phosphating chemical consumption
A collaborative approach to the problem, practical understanding of the shop floor processes and thorough examination of the factors contributing to wastage, resulted in solutions that were implemented effectively. There was substantial value-addition to the manufacturing process that contributed effectively to savings and enhanced efficiency.