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IW Best Plants Profile - 1992

Only five months after its public debut, Allen-Bradley Company's EMS1 facility took center stage again this time as one of 1992's Best Plants. Taking its name from Allen-Bradley's carefully nurtured Electronic Manufacturing Strategy, EMS1 produces printed circuit board assemblies for the company's industrial automation products.

On the continuous-flow assembly line, as many as 10 different types of circuit boards may be in production at any one time. The conveyor system can carry each panel through all the process options or, using an overhead loop, bypass a process that is not appropriate.

The EMS1 implementation teams searched out the best-in-class in electronic manufacturing. "We knew we had to benchmark," says J. Daniel Challgren, vice president of operations. "We started with Digital Equipment Corporation, DELCO, Northern Telecom, and Allen-Bradley's own World Contactor Plant. We also visited plants in Japan. What we learned was that the development of our strategy was right on target."

The results speak for themselves. Consider, for instance, EMS1's capability to automatically transform engineering transfer file data, generated by computer-aided design stations, into numerical control machine programs for all applicable equipment in five to seven minutes per machine.

In the area of environmental stewardship, EMS1 implemented the use of no-clean wave-solder process, eliminating the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or solvents for cleaning of assemblies and helping the Operations Group to cut its CFC use 62 percent.

Training is critical to this cutting-edge venture. Milwaukee School of Engineering was enlisted to develop a novel educational partnership, presenting basic math skills and helping employees use those skills to build a familiarity with surface-mount technology.

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