Arburg identifies potential set-up time savings using video

(PresseBox) ( Loßburg, )
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- Video footage reveals improvement potential
- Company, Works Council and employees working in one direction
- Operator ideas enhance production efficiency

When it comes to setting up machines and systems, much is often simply done "as it always has been". This means that habitual behaviours are propagated, even though it would perhaps be better and faster if done differently. In order to identify and subsequently implement optimisation measures for daily work, video analysis of set-up processes can prove useful. An important aspect here is that employees are not criticised, but are brought on board to benefit from their extensive specialist knowledge. This allows potential improvements to be identified, which help everyone to not only speed-up, but also facilitate set-up work.

Arburg has incorporated this innovative method of analysis as one of the first companies in its production environment and is working extremely successfully with video analysis in order to further enhance production efficiency. Use of this investigative method began back in 2010, with selected groups within Production receiving preliminary basic training in the use of video analysis. On a selected day, the video films were then first shot with external assistance and subsequently subjected to systematic evaluation. Workshops on set-up time optimisation were first held in Production before being extended to various sectors in Assembly. Between five and six employees are invited to take part in each session: at least two operators, managers and production planners. The two operators then team up for the actual compilation of the analysis video. One of them films what the other is currently doing. This material then forms the basis for analysis and subsequent development of appropriate activities. It is interesting to note that the agreed steps are more likely to be put into practice when video analysis is used than without this audiovisual aid. When the films are screened, many otherwise unnoticed things become apparent.

Introduction of SMED simpler with video analysis

Video recording of all the processes is particularly important for the introduction of SMED or "Single Minute Exchange of Die", which aims at performing die changes within single-digit minute times. The objective of this process for the reduction of set-up times with regard to production machines or production lines (including material provision or parameterisation of the production units etc.), is to minimise plant downtime over the long term. If the machines can be converted for a different production task without interrupting the ongoing manufacturing process, this also has an effect, for example, on stocking level requirements. SMED is only implemented to perfection when a one-piece flow can be realised without the need for interventions in running production.

For this purpose, it may be necessary to carry out sequentially-performed processes simultaneously. Here, video recording and evaluation can provide valuable assistance. Once the videos have been shot, the set-up operations are analysed during a discussion between the operators and their line manager on the basis of the filmed images. Torsten Schmid from Production Planning at Arburg places particular emphasis on the spontaneous nature of this exchange: "Many ideas are a direct result of these discussions. Most of them come from the operators themselves. This effectively weakens arguments such as 'but we've always done it this way'."

Eight workshops provide important insights

Eight of the 14 intended workshops have already taken place. At these, the operators' initial scepticism gave way to an overwhelmingly positive assessment of the results. The Rotational Production, Non-cutting Production (Coating and Sheet Metal Processing), Grinding and Special Machines departments have already worked with video analysis. Cubic Production and Assembly are set to follow. In this context, Torsten Schmid praises the smooth co-operation between the company, the Works Council and the employees: "At first, filming an employee with a video camera during his everyday work appears to be a sensitive issue. That's why it was important to come to an understanding with the Works Council and obtain its support. The first two workshops also took place with the participation of a member of the Works Council in order to show how a workshop of this kind is performed in detail and to demonstrate that its aim is only to optimise the processes and not to critically observer the operators' work. For us, the aim is to make use of the employees' extensive knowledge of their own work in order to intervene precisely here. By visually analysing the everyday actions and then jointly elaborating improvements, these proposals are also accepted and implemented much more comprehensively."
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