When GKN called in TWI's Manufacturing Support Group (MSG) to look at a layout for a new production line, ways of making it more efficient and reducing materials handling costs were found.
GKN Sankey Engineering Products, Telford was planning a new line to manufacture automotive suspension and chassis components and wanted to check that the proposed layout would meet its needs. Provision of decision support services is one of MSG's key functions.
The line was to be sited in an available area within an existing building. Material flow in each manufacturing cell and the entire production line had to be optimised. To meet production objectives, in-process component buffer stores with 3 hours capacity were required. On-line raw material storage for 3 days' production was an additional constraint.
MSG started by analysing GKN's proposed layout to establish base conditions. Commercial factory layout/planning software was then used to re-organise the cells within the space available to provide easy access to all parts of the production line. The layout had to include adequate space for work in progress and raw material storage. To optimise equipment utilisation and minimise materials handling costs, various 'what if?' scenarios were evaluated using different cell layouts and materials handling equipment.
The final layout provided easy access to all manufacturing cells, and online storage was positioned to maximise production efficiency. Compared with the originally proposed layout it offered significant potential cost savings in materials handling.