I was involved in a production improvement program with the aim of increasing efficiencies and reducing damage to Work in Progress.
The main issue we faced was the volume of Work In Progress parts, how they were stored, handled and protected during the manufacture process.
The parts are expensive compressor blisks (rotors), damage was causing particular concern to our customer as it was driving extensive in-process rework and significant yield loss at a huge financial loss.
Columbus already supplied packaging used to dispatch these rotors throughout the world so we approached them to look at designing the WIP container with the following requirements:
- Hold any one of the seven Compressor Blisks of different sizes and profiles
- Each rotor to be firmly held in place
- Provide the opportunity for the rotor to be turned over during inspection by the Inspector without physically touching the Blisk and without mechanical lifting equipment
- Be able to open from either side to allow for inspection of both sides of the rotor so the container needed to be able to be “rolled” over.
- The container would also need to fit inside one of the storage drawer systems allowing us to introduce a Kanban system, significantly reducing WIP and component lead times
- Allow access for lifting fixture to be secured in the centre bore for lateral movement
We supplied the 3D STP models to Columbus who came up with a design, prototypes were manufactured, tested and reviewed, adjustments were made and the final solution delivered all of the above.
I found working with the team at Columbus very easy, they listened, asked all the right questions and responded quickly. The container system has been introduced successfully and is now fully operational with the 5S, lead time, damage and yield improvements achieved.