‘Just in sequence’ takes ‘just in time’ a step further

By Catherine

Written by Catherine Bolgar

Modern car production line

When Toyota Motor Corp. introduced just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing, it transformed the automotive sector and changed how the business world viewed production and supply chains. Toyota wanted the right quantity and quality of parts to arrive at the factory floor at the right time, allowing the firm to shrink its expensive inventories.

The auto industry continues to innovate. As cars become increasingly customized, the sector is once again leading change, with “just-in-sequence” (JIS) production. Carmakers want to ensure not just that they have enough doors at the right time, but enough blue, red or any other color doors precisely when they need them. If the plant is making a blue, a white, a black and a red car in that order, it has to know that blue, white, black, and red doors will also arrive in that sequence.

Just in sequence “is a very hot topic in the automotive industry,” says Nils Boysen, professor of operations management at Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, in Jena, Germany. A car rolls off the assembly line every 60 to 90 seconds, for which any one of more than a thousand varieties of door trim or seat, and hundreds of different center-consoles, might be needed. JIS allows assembly workers to get the right item quickly, without having to sort through large, cumbersome parts. Given that auto workers are generally well-paid, carmakers have an interest in improving workflow efficiency. It’s a little like Charlie Chaplin’s film ‘Modern Times,’ Dr. Boysen says. “It’s pretty fast and exhausting if you have to take a door every 90 seconds again and again.”

JIS isn’t practical for all manufacturers. Aircraft makers, which also require large parts, operate at a different pace—typically producing a plane every 2.5 days—and many parts, such as passenger seats, come in large, standardized quantities. At the other end of the spectrum, electronics factories require large quantities of small but expensive parts, which workers can easily handle multiple times, says Dr. Boysen. Even in the auto sector, not all parts are sequenced: mirrors, for example, are too small to be worth the trouble.

Just in sequence has a lot of prerequisites,” Dr. Boysen notes. “The parts and products must be assembled very often and in huge variety.”

 

iStock_000003309143_SmallWith JIS, the cost of getting parts in the correct sequence shifts from the factory worker to the supplier. With JIT, companies reduce warehousing costs by leaving inventory with suppliers, who are then expected to deliver them at the right time. Companies outside the auto sector have adopted what is effectively a less-complex version of JIS. Certain clothing retailers, for instance, ship clothes with price tags and hangers attached, so shop staff don’t have to iron, hang and tag them. The main benefit of this is not about saving the time of salespeople, whose wages are generally not high, but in displaying the clothes more quickly for loyal customers who want first pick of the new arrivals.

Companies shift costs to suppliers in other ways besides JIT and JIS. Some manufacturers and retailers deploy vendor-managed inventory, providing point-of-sale data to vendors who ensure that warehouses or shelves are efficiently stocked. Other companies are shifting research-and-development operations to their suppliers, so that those suppliers can become more innovative.

Factory manufactoring transmissions

Although JIS is mainly about cost-cutting, even the auto industry isn’t entirely convinced that the returns justify the investment. “It’s hard to measure the effects of how much does it cost and how much does it bring you,” says Dr. Boysen. The automakers “plan their sequence and order some parts, like engines, in JIS, then they receive these parts in the planned sequence, but their production processes aren’t that reliable. There are always problems with the paint shop. When a sensor detects a paint defect, the car has to be repainted. So they don’t make sequence as planned. They have to reorder or resequence.”

In a factory producing several thousand cars a day, the buffer inventory can take up a lot of space and cost tens of thousands of euros, Dr. Boysen points out. Even the world’s largest car companies struggle with “huge space problems,” he notes.

 

Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe. For more from Catherine Bolgar, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion.

 

Photos courtesy of iStock

[PART 1] DELMIA Helps the Aerospace Industry Meet the Challenges of Composite Manufacturing

By Christian

Hi, I’m Christian Chaplais, Senior Manager of R&D DELMIA Operations Intelligence Applications. This blog is the first of a two-part series on how  Operational Intelligence is helping the Aerospace & Defense Industry.

The Growing Footprint of Composite Materials in the Aerospace and Defense Industry

It’s an interesting concept when one thinks of composite materials. By now, you’re most likely somewhat familiar with—and may have heard about– the benefits that these combined materials, such as carbon fibers, can result in. Composite materials have become wide-spread in civil aircrafts after being used for years in the defense industry. And why not? The benefits are huge. Composite materials allow producing lightweight structures which in turn reduce fuel bills and emissions.

According to a 2014 report, Aerospace & Defense applications are now the largest consumers of carbon fiber (30% of demand) and generate 50% of global carbon fiber revenues.

Industry analysts expect an annual growth of between 8 and 13% for carbon composites revenue in the passenger aircraft segment and between 6 and 12% in the defense segment.

Development of carbon composite revenues in US$ million in A&D

View source. Amounts in US $ millions.

New Processes, New Issues

There is a variety of processes used to manufacture composite materials:

CRP market share in US$ million by manufaturing process (2013)

View source. 2013 figures.

Prepregs, which account for 37%, are reinforcement materials that are pre-impregnated (hence the term “prepreg”) with a resin. The prepregs are laid up by hand or machine onto a mold surface, vacuum bagged and then heated to typically 120-180°C /248-356°F.

Autoclaves and materials have a high cost, but because of the quality and lightness of the material obtained, prepeg layup with autoclave has been until now the primary choice for the Aerospace and Defense industry.

However, new materials bring new challenges. And one major challenge is the unexpected occurrence of defects during the manufacturing of these costly composite parts.

The prepregs require storage at a controlled temperature and present certain inherent problems (variability of the raw material, variability of the processing methods used for the prepreg rolls, sensitivity of the raw material to the prevailing temperature and humidity rate in the production environment…)

As a result, up to 20% of the parts may exhibit defects such as porosity and delamination which, albeit invisible to the naked eye, are nonetheless present in the mass. These faults weaken the resistance of a part, and when there are too many such faults, the part is discarded.

delamination

Zoom on a delamination issue at a leading edge of a wing

DELMIA Operations Intelligence offers a way round the complexity of composite manufacturing.
Find out how in my next blog post, Part 2 of “The Growing Footprint of Composite Materials in the Aerospace and Defense Industry.”

If you would like to continue the technical conversation on Operations Intelligence, go where all the experts are. Join the conversation at the DELMIA Enterprise Intelligence Community here: https://swym.3ds.com/#community:453

A View from the Ground at the Paris Air Show

By Ellen

The 51st Paris Air Show

The first two days of the Paris Air Show gave participants aerial demonstrations from the AIRBUS A350, A380 and A400M; Dassault Aviation Rafale and Falcon 8X; the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Patrouille de France. Also launched at the Paris Air Show, Dassault Systèmes announced Build to Operate, a new Industry Solution Experience for aerospace and defense companies that aims to maximize manufacturing operations.

Paris Air Show sign at Le Bourget

Global Manufacturing Efficiency

How does Build to Operate help manufacturers? For the past decade or so, large aviation OEMs have put a lot of effort in the design of increasingly composite aircraft. Given the growth in commercial aviation, aerospace manufacturers seek to implement more lean practices to improve program performance and equip global operations. One major way to improve performance is find a way to free data trapped in silos across the multitude of IT systems across the enterprise. Striving for lean manufacturing means having immediate access to information, removing labor intensive manual processes, and lower the risk to data integrity by eliminating the need to collect data over time and store it.

True manufacturing efficiency requires real-time data from across the enterprise. Essential to efficient and reactive manufacturing capability is the ability for all participants to work in unison, like a virtual symphony. Manufacturers must unite their global factories as one performing organization. This requires a platform that can integrate with other enterprise systems to ensure that all critical systems receive relevant shop-floor production information and support and synchronize global operations.

Build to Operate Provides Global Visibility and Control

Build to Operate helps both aerospace Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and large suppliers increase program efficiency and quality. Based on DELMIA Apriso, the solution offers Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) capabilities to monitor, control and validate all aspects of manufacturing. This frees up manufacturers to focus on more strategic operations.

Manufacturing Operations Management includes a wide range of functions, but one major advantage is that it allows manufacturers to make fully informed decisions because they enjoy a full view of operations. A lack of visibility can have serious impact to manufacturing operations, so Control Center for complete oversight – especially across the extended enterprise. Because if you are unable to see where you are headed, the likelihood of making a decision that can adversely impact global support and synchronization is a real consideration, with real-world consequences.
Instant visibility on all levels of productivity—plant, line, station, cell and individual— is a critical enabler for continuous improvement. ‘Build to Operate’ brings this capability to existing production lines and accelerates the ramp-up of new lines to reach optimal rate. By receiving all required data, plant managers can view, control and execute automated manufacturing operations through sensors in real time.

The Build to Operate solution offers the ability to monitor, control and validate all aspects of global manufacturing operations – all with digital precision. These capabilities range from replicable processes and production sequences, to the flow of deliverables throughout their supply chain.

Having these competencies allows manufacturers to manage global material supplies, logistics execution and production operations in one site and then execute across all global sites. Visibility into operations (both within a single plant and across all plants) results in better alignment with business performance targets, including WIP and Labor.

Enable the Future Factory Today

Build to Operate increases the efficiency of manufacturers’ existing lines and accelerates the production ramp up of new ones to enable future factory innovations, today. Michel Tellier, Vice President, Aerospace & Defense Industry, Dassault Systèmes explains,

Aerospace companies implementing this ‘factory of the future’ today can expect benefits that include as much as a 25 percent reduction in errors, 20 percent less waste and up to a 15 percent improvement in first-time quality.”

factory Scene_01_cropAnother announcement at the Paris Air Show was Air Bus Helicopter sharing its objective for the solution.

“We adopted Dassault Systèmes’ Build to Operate industry solution experience to improve manufacturing execution for our existing and future helicopters programs,” said Jean-Luc Sturlèse, Vice President, Production Flows Management, Airbus Helicopters. “By tightly unifying engineering with our change management process, and by implementing lean processes like just-in-time processing and paperless manufacturing, we aim to improve quality and accelerate production while lowering program costs.”

Read more about Build to Operate for aerospace and defense companies: http://www.3ds.com/industries/aerospace-defense/build-to-operate/

Ellen MondroEllen Mondro

Married to aerospace & defense, I write about and develop go to market strategy for @3dsaerospace solutions. It’s an honor to work in this industry and with companies that use technology to create advancements in space, aviation and security. In my precious free time you’ll find me enjoying warm weather, watching my kids’ baseball games and spending time with family and friends.



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