DBK EMS GmbH & Co. KG has been manufacturing electronic components since 1972. The enterprise currently has its headquarters in Herxheim in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The company’s 110 or so employees mainly focus on making printed circuit boards in line with customer orders, although a few make automotive products for the DBK Group. The corporation generated sales of approx. EUR 15 million in 2011.
The firm opened a new factory with twice the production space in Rülzheim in the neighboring rural district of Germersheim in May 2012 in order to cope with the increase in demand. But even at the old production site, the managers decided to make the processes even slimmer and more stable, reduce total throughput times and increase the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). The “Rapid Setup” project was carried out for this purpose with support from the German MTM company. The Division Manager, Uwe Boss, reports on how the project went, the results and future activities.
DBK EMS produces components with high quality standards along the value-added chain; it starts with advising customers, purchases items, then produces, tests, assembles and dispatches units. The assembly work takes place using both conventional Through Hole Technology (THT) with components that have wire connections and also with miniaturized SMD parts (Surface Mounted Devices), where the footprints are directly soldered on to the printed circuit board by machine, if possible.
Optimizing the order scheduling work
There was significant design potential in the order scheduling work in both technology areas because of the cramped space available and a task assignment process that was far from ideal. Our adviser Dr. Werner Beumelburg had gained excellent experience with MTM at a French subsidiary of the DBK Group and recommended that we should work together. The project group, which was formed as a result, formulated five main tasks in May 2011 in conjunction with Paul Reiners from the German MTM company:
• Developing processes for “Rapid Setup”
• Describing the necessary general conditions
• Documenting the improved setup process
• Assessing the setup processes in terms of time
• Ensuring that the employees understand the methods.
“Eye-opening training” took place initially in three workshops and this proved to be very beneficial for all those taking part. The approach adopted was the SMED/COE method. SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die) means changing tools in less than ten minutes, while COE (Change-Over Efficiency) stands for efficient setup processes. They were then subdivided into “internal processes” (which need to be performed when the machine is at a standstill) and “external processes” (which can be prepared while the machine is running).
It was often possible to achieve improvements simply by replacing complete work stages with improved working methods or reducing the time required. It was possible, for example, to reduce the processing time for an SMD order from 5.35 hours at the outset to 2.12 hours. The analysis of weak points brought to light some key issues, like:
• Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) of only approx. 55 %
• High total throughput times for orders, some of them more than 20 days
• Shortcomings in the coordination between departments
• Gaps in the documentation of the best practice processes
• Logistics and production scheduling tasks were handled by production staff
• Many search processes
• No automatic internal checks; potential for improvements was developed jointly in this area.
Potential in logistics too
It was not just possible to develop suggestions for optimizing the setup methods, but for the support processes in logistics too:
• Bulk materials directly moved to the production area with ship-to-line and a Kanban supermarket
• Picking to match processes with trolleys that are compatible with the assembly work
• Integrating space to perform preliminary setup work in the logistics area
• Capturing data through scanners
• Electronic inventory management, so alleviating the need for filing cards.
All the improvement potential was checked to see whether it was feasible and agreed with the responsible employees on the ground and at team meetings.
“We’re delighted that we’ve already been able to achieve an improvement in complete processing times of about 30%. But we’ll only be able to really use many of the measures and enable them to have their full effect after our production has started at the new factory in Rülzheim in May where we’ll have much better production conditions. We’ve already included many of the suggestions in our plans for the new factory. We’ll also set up a production system based on the good results in this project. And after successfully working with MTM here, we’ll be very happy to let MTM support us again in the future!” says Uwe Boss, summing up the project.
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