Road To Excellence Manufacturer of automotive climate-control systems follows lean-manufacturing map. ByDavid DrickhamerValeo Klimasysteme GmbH, Bad Rodach, GermanyAt a glance
Web Exclusive Best Practices Valeo Klimasysteme GmbH, maker of automotive heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. ByDavid Drickhamer Benchmarking contact: Hervé Vandenberghe, [email protected], +49 95 64 81 230. Material Handling One of the tenets of lean manufacturing is to produce only what is required by the customer. The Valeo Klimasysteme plant in Bad Rodach, Germany, makes deliveries to its customers on a daily basis while maintaining minimal finished-goods inventory. To stay in sync with customer demand and with an increasing variety of products requires rapid changeover from one product to another on the assembly line. Within the climate-control factory, the standard forklift and pallet system for material storage and delivery has been replaced by a trolley system that carries parts and supplies from raw-material storage and injection molding to the assembly line. A lead unit tows eight to 14 four-foot-high carts, strictly following a path indicated by a green line painted on the floor. Following this path, material handlers deliver only 30 minutes of components to the line at a time, allowing the line to change products every 30 minutes. A previous trolley system, which delivered two to three hours worth of parts at a time, was replaced because components had to be sent back to material storage during every changeover. Apprenticeship Program Five apprenticeship programs within the facility help ensure the ongoing availability of appropriate skills, including plastic injection molding, tool-making, mechanics and electronics, technical drawing, and information systems. Apprentices share a six-month core program before being dispatched to the various APUs. Eleven young people currently share their time between study (20%) and work in the plant (80%). After three years, under the terms of the company's labor agreement, they are hired to work full-time in the factory for one year. At the end of that term, they are asked either to stay on at the company or seek work elsewhere with the advantage of a strong theoretical background and practical experience. Of the 85 people who've gone through the program in the last 10 years, 47 still work at Valeo Rodach. Flexibility Through Standardization One of the goals at Valeo is the simple and flexible organization of technology and people. Workstations can be adjusted to ensure that output equals demand by transferring tasks to different areas and using available backup equipment in the event of machine failure. Worldwide standardization of assembly workstations and injection molding machines allows the company to optimize production and transfer work anywhere when necessary. An intranet database contains all process standards, making them accessible worldwide. Supplier Development Although, as production and logistics manager Herv Vandenberghe states, "there is always room for improvement within the factory," Valeo's lean initiative is now targeted at its supplier base. The plant currently has 106 suppliers, compared with 177 three years ago, and continues to reduce that number. Some, Vandenberghe reports, are well along in their lean efforts and, for example, have been able to start using returnable packaging quickly. With others, it will take a few more years. Suppliers know that in addition to cost and quality they are evaluated on logistics.
- Lead time cut from 11.8 to 5.2 days in last one and a half years.
- From 1995 to 1999 injection-molding-machine changeover time reduced from three hours to 15 minutes on average.
- First-pass yield of 99.6%, within injection-molding autonomous production unit.