Getting Lean

Hom-Ming ChangHigh- and low-tech ways to ensure parts are correctly placed.

A core element of Lean manufacturing philosophy is the requirement to understand where inefficiencies and waste exist, in order to eliminate them. Even in a factory that thoroughly embraces Lean manufacturing and trains its personnel on all aspects of their jobs, there will be inefficiencies and waste related to operator error, supplier quality issues and process variation. SigmaTron International’s facility in Suzhou, China uses a two-part strategy to address this. At a systems level, it developed a proprietary Manufacturing Execution System (MES) system known as Tango to enhance shop floor control. At a granular level, the team evaluates production operations for areas where tooling or fixtures can minimize process variability and the potential for operator error. This month, we look at some of the common areas where this defect mitigation strategy can be most effective.

SigmaTron’s IT department takes a distributed approach to continuous improvement in its systems by letting teams at individual manufacturing facilities identify specific gaps in shared systems and develop appropriate software tools. These solutions are then tested at the facility that identified the need and later transferred across all facilities. Following development and testing in Suzhou, Tango was deployed to other facilities beginning in 2014.

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A dual Kanban approach cuts costs vs. Asia and ensures a predictable flow of finished goods.

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Jim Barnes








Bringing efficiency to manufacturing of one-off projects.

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Curtis Campbell

Communications efficiency is oft-overlooked but can make a difference in product quality.

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Yousef Heidari  Dennis Mcnamara

The sensitive nature of LEDs underscores the need for minimizing “waste.”

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Michael Ford

Do low-volume, high-mix factories render the continuous improvement plan obsolete?

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