Cellular Manufacturing


What is a Manufacturing Cell Group?

It is a group of employees operating a variety of machines located in one physical location, layed out in a “U” shape, working as one unit specializing in one or a limited number of products.

Benefits of celullar manufacturing:

1.        Less inventory movement = less waste (unnecessary cost), less lead time, and more focused environment.

2.        Higher quality yield due to having all operations and employees housed together closely which brings two benefits: first, since each employee feeds on the work of another they hold each other responsible for the quality they are passing to the next member of the group. Secondly, all members of the group work together to resolve any quality issues that might arise.

3.        Encourages process improvement. Each group is responsible for their productivity; therefore, they are motivated to improve their work methods and processes to bring more success to the group.

4.        Best environment for cross training because members of the group are motivated to teach each other to benefit the group quality and output.

5.        Higher productivity. The members of the group are working to find ways to get the work out of their cell ASAP. They have the authority to devise new ways to increase the cell output rate.

6.        Less lead times.

Manufacturing Modes:

1.        Product Factory Layout (process flow production or cellular manufacturing). As its name implies, this layout facilitates the production flow of the product with minimum amount of non-value-added inventory handling. Basically the factory would be broken into cell groups where each cell group is comprised from employees and different machines to allow doing all the work needed for a product or similar products (product family). If each cell operated as an assembly line layout, with processes feeding each other with in the cell, then we have achieved the ultimate cell design needed.

2.        Process Factory Layout (Work Centers – Job Shop). Here we have the factory broken into work centers by equipment function. Each work center would specialize in identical or similar processes and machinery. You would have something like: the polishing work center, quality control work center, packaging work center …etc.


Factory Layout Implementations: (This is how the manufacturing modes translate in real life)

                Manufacturers do not have all the options readily available to them to simply choose one of the two factory layout modes. For a manufacturer that produces a single product or a family of product that are similar and high in volume (repetitive), it is much easier for them to implement a Product Factory Layout. Their highest desire is to turn the whole factory into one cell group that is an assembly line like a bottling or an auto maker factory. Obviously the greater the product mix a factory deals with the further away they get from having an assembly line manufacturing layout. However, even these manufacturers are trying to reap the benefits of the Product Factory Layout and trying hard to turn their operation into an assembly line layout as much as possible. This is because the benefits are directly tied to their ability to compete and sometimes to fight for their survival. These manufacturers are working hard with consultants and engineers to migrate from a Process Factory Layout to a Product Factory Layout.  The key idea here is that they usually land somewhere between the two manufacturing layouts. Regardless of how successful they get they are happy to reap whatever benefits they can. Shop Floor Control v7 caters for the both modes and anything in between. This is accomplished by the solution design which allows for such flexibility without sacrificing the ability to facilitate control of production and gives accurate and timely feedback on the work in process.

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