Lean Manufacturing and Injection Moulding/Mould Making

Importance of real-time shop-floor data in injection moulding or mould making on the way to Lean Manufacturing

What is Lean Manufacturing?

The current context of economic openness and globalization is forcing companies around the world to be more competitive and successful. Improving is not optional but of existential importance, and in terms of “Lean Manufacturing” this translates into the relentless pursuit of perfection. Lean Manufacturing seeks to create more value with fewer resources through a continuous, synchronized and flexible flow, without waste, thus consolidating a healthy, more productive and sustainable future.

The actions from Lean Manufacturing are constituted basically by the implementation of systems and measurements that continuously reveal opportunities to improve the speed of the processes and the reduction of costs by eliminating activities that do not add value and thus reduce profits.

How M-Box Production Monitoring System Makes It possible to Implement Lean Philosophy in Injection Moulding and Mould Making

For any injection moulder or mould maker looking to adopt a Lean philosophy, M-Box production monitoring system reveals opportunities for improvements with respect to activities that do not add value. This is achieved through constant performance measurements.

Manufacturing Data Collection System Core Component: the M-Box

M-Box data help to map the current state that Lean Manufacturing establishes at the beginning of its implementation, with data such as cycle time, changeover time, uptime, downtime, available worktime, lot size to produce, and OEE.

M-Box allows the classification of the machine interruptions (by operators or supervisors), as the basis for improvement actions to achieve the future state of Lean.

Afterwards, it is possible to set the first objectives for improvement of the future state map (improved state established by Lean). Comparing the takt times (minimum pace at which process has to work to satisfy the demand) with the normative cycle times flags immediately if the current pace of the process satisfies the demand, and where actions are required.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), POKAYOKE, SMED and OEE

The implementation of “TPM” (Lean tool Total Productive Maintenance; learn how to IMPROVE TPM BY TARGETING SIX BIG LOSSES) gives a true focus by knowing the downtimes and their classifications (example: due to maintenance failures, format changes and general stops, etc.), as well as number of defects and reprocessing data. This helps to establish effective preventive maintenance plans based on operating time or number of pieces produced. Likewise, with the possibility to accurately analyze the data on defect and rework rates, it becomes possible to implement “mistake-proofing” or “POKAYOKE” (Lean tool) to decrease these rates. Additionally, the changeover times data will be used for a thorough “SMED” approach (Lean tool, Single-Minute Exchange of Die) to reduce unnecessary downtimes for tool changes.

The monitoring of the OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness), a key indicator of TPM, lets you measure the effectiveness of individual injection moulding or mould making machines, and establish concrete and well directed actions to improve the machinery performance, its availability and finally the product quality.

Monitor-Box System Helps to Achieve Process Autonomy

In addition, the instant notifications to the management or support staff reduces response time to specific situations in the manufacturing process, effectively acting as an alert system or “Andon” (Lean tool).

The data that are available per operator, shift, product and machine (group) and in any of its combinations are valuable for training opportunities, team balancing, and realistic KPI setting. They also allow the development of “multi process handling teams” and “multi machine handling teams” (teams capable of handling different processes and machines), which will reduce dependencies from but nurture ideas of essential operators. This constitutes a basic principle of Lean to achieve “process autonomy”.

Accurate M-Box Data Makes It possible to Develop "Visual Factory"

The data on electricity consumption together with data on man and machine hours are essential for transparent cost price calculation and may trigger specific actions for reduction. After all, the main reason for Lean Manufacturing is to reduce the costs of the product by eliminating each of the wastes generated throughout the process. In that order of ideas, the development of the “visual factory” concept (Lean tool) becomes possible thanks to the M-Box data: informative performance billboards and floorplans showing equipment statuses increase commitment and sense of belonging of the operators to drive the results.

In short, the M-Box production monitoring system is a tremendous tool when adopting a solid, true data based Lean philosophy to achieve that healthy, productive and sustainable future in injection moulding or mould making.