Kingsbury Corp.Keene, N.H.

Cyber-Cell II lean-manufacturing system

Doug Bartholomew, Samuel Greengard, Glenn Hasek, John Jesitus, Scott Leibs, Kristin Ohlson, Robert Patton, Barb Schmitz, Tim Stevens, and John Teresko contributed to this article. Meeting the needs of mass customization and lean manufacturing requires more than a change of management mind-sets or a reorientation of shop personnel. For high-volume producers, it means rethinking the basic manufacturing concept to gain flexibility and speed of response, says James L. Koontz, president of Kingsbury Corp. The company, long a maker of custom-designed dedicated transfer lines, is breaking that paradigm to offer its customers manufacturing capabilities they have not seen before. In its Cyber-Cell II those customers not only get equipment flexible enough to quickly adapt to a changing product mix and volume, but they also get a manufacturing concept that can ramp up new programs very quickly, says Koontz. While a custom transfer line might require 14 months or more from order until it starts producing its first prototypes, only four or five months is needed with the Cyber-Cell II system. "Cyber-Cell II can ensure the availability of preproduction parts as much as a year ahead of custom-designed dedicated systems," Koontz avers. That can offer significant time-to-market advantages to anyone with production runs of as small as 50,000 pieces, he adds. The secret is in its standardized modular design -- a factor that gives parts-making lines a plug-and-play simplicity that makes it easy to reshape shop floors, shorten leadtimes, and move entire manufacturing systems from site to site to meet production needs. Kingsbury specifically designed the Cyber- Cell II to be versatile. It can serve as a standalone independent unit, as part of an in-line flexible transfer system, or as part of a U-shaped manufacturing cell. It contrasts with the transfer-line concepts of yore by being able to easily grow and change with the needs of a manufacturer. With a conventional transfer line, a manufacturer would buy the full capacity all at once. With the Cyber- Cell II, the same manufacturer can feel comfortable with buying only what is needed initially because changes, additions, and modifications are so easy to accommodate. For example, no special foundation is required and the design incorporates slots in the base so the machine can be easily maneuvered into place with a forklift truck. The work envelope of the Cyber-Cell II is 500 mm wide, 400 mm deep, and 300 mm high -- about the size of a breadbox. Although dedicated transfer lines bring to mind high-volume automotive type applications, Koontz says the flexibility of the Cyber Cell II broadens its applicability for such products as appliances and chain saws. Koontz believes the Cyber- Cell II is the replacement for the conventional transfer line and will establish that reputation by being "one of the world's fastest and most accurate lean-manufacturing systems." The technology supporting the performance of the Cyber-Cell II is the linear motor. Unlike ball screws, linear motors drive machines at lightning speed with remarkable precision. Koontz notes that today's linear motors are dramatically different from those introduced just a few years ago and now have a reliability of 50,000 hours as opposed to 6,000 to 10,000 hours for ball screws. An 18,000-rpm vertical spindle is standard. Meeting the needs of mass customization and lean manufacturing requires more than a change of management mind-sets or a reorientation of shop personnel. For high-volume producers, it means rethinking the basic manufacturing concept to gain flexibility and speed of response, says James L. Koontz, president of Kingsbury Corp. The company, long a maker of custom-designed dedicated transfer lines, is breaking that paradigm to offer its customers manufacturing capabilities they have not seen before. In its Cyber-Cell II those customers not only get equipment flexible enough to quickly adapt to a changing product mix and volume, but they also get a manufacturing concept that can ramp up new programs very quickly, says Koontz. While a custom transfer line might require 14 months or more from order until it starts producing its first prototypes, only four or five months is needed with the Cyber-Cell II system. "Cyber-Cell II can ensure the availability of preproduction parts as much as a year ahead of custom-designed dedicated systems," Koontz avers. That can offer significant time-to-market advantages to anyone with production runs of as small as 50,000 pieces, he adds. The secret is in its standardized modular design -- a factor that gives parts-making lines a plug-and-play simplicity that makes it easy to reshape shop floors, shorten leadtimes, and move entire manufacturing systems from site to site to meet production needs. Kingsbury specifically designed the Cyber- Cell II to be versatile. It can serve as a standalone independent unit, as part of an in-line flexible transfer system, or as part of a U-shaped manufacturing cell. It contrasts with the transfer-line concepts of yore by being able to easily grow and change with the needs of a manufacturer. With a conventional transfer line, a manufacturer would buy the full capacity all at once. With the Cyber- Cell II, the same manufacturer can feel comfortable with buying only what is needed initially because changes, additions, and modifications are so easy to accommodate. For example, no special foundation is required and the design incorporates slots in the base so the machine can be easily maneuvered into place with a forklift truck. The work envelope of the Cyber-Cell II is 500 mm wide, 400 mm deep, and 300 mm high -- about the size of a breadbox. Although dedicated transfer lines bring to mind high-volume automotive type applications, Koontz says the flexibility of the Cyber Cell II broadens its applicability for such products as appliances and chain saws. Koontz believes the Cyber- Cell II is the replacement for the conventional transfer line and will establish that reputation by being "one of the world's fastest and most accurate lean-manufacturing systems." The technology supporting the performance of the Cyber-Cell II is the linear motor. Unlike ball screws, linear motors drive machines at lightning speed with remarkable precision. Koontz notes that today's linear motors are dramatically different from those introduced just a few years ago and now have a reliability of 50,000 hours as opposed to 6,000 to 10,000 hours for ball screws. An 18,000-rpm vertical spindle is standard.

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