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Resources to keep up with modern assembly methods.

Resources to keep up with modern assembly methods.

Resources to keep up with modern assembly methods.

Short story...

Company I work for recently had a fairly bad visit from a customer saying something along the lines of "Your assembly lines look 30 years old".

Directive from management...need to look for new technology to update our factory.

Realizing I haven't done a good job of keeping up with things outside of my bubble, I was hoping I could get some suggestions for resources to browse in the hopes I might stumble across something with this generic goal. My group works directly with NPD group to help launch new products but plant is in Mexico so we aren't involved with the day to day production. I have asked for some more targeted areas that the plant has trouble with, will see if I get an answer.

Plant is mostly hand assembly of small switches and circuit breakers, so mostly looking for examples of improvements in material handling, small hand assembly(lots of pneumatic presses with hand loading), resistance welding.


RE: Resources to keep up with modern assembly methods.

Well, I wouldn't necessarily jump on a comment like that, having been part of an assessment tour where our manufacturing director made comments about a plastics house being a bit dirty/messy - which though somewhat true seems to be par for the course of the kind of scale place we were dealing with and it was the second tidiest I'd ever seen.

Are your 30 year old techniques actually causing you any issues? Would there be a cost saving and/or quality improvement by updating - i.e. what is the ROI beyond making this one customer happy.

Anyway, one thing may be are people working to hard copy paper drawings/work instructions/routings? Some places instead have large monitors & maybe PC's (or equivalent interface) at assy stations.

Do people have to manual track progress or do they scan bar codes or something as each step is complete?

Do you have Kaizan/Kanban/Poke a Yoke/various TLA's & FLA's ... type efforts or projects?

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RE: Resources to keep up with modern assembly methods.

Keeping up-to-date is usually done by reading trade journals and going to trade conventions. There is a magazine called "Assembly".


RE: Resources to keep up with modern assembly methods.


Does your plant look thirty years old? Maybe it is time to replace your Penthouse centrefolds!

Something you can do at your office is read up on and implement design for manufacture and assembly (DFMA). Maybe your assembly methods are dated.


RE: Resources to keep up with modern assembly methods.

What you need to do is to paint all your 30 year old equipment in a light grey and then build an aluminium profile scaffold around the whole thing and hang loads of LED strip lights and computer screens off it, put andon lamps EVERYWHERE then hide the whole thing behind KPI boards.

It's a bit of a joke calling someones line out for being 30 years old. The big EU automakers had no problem with my employer at the time's 40-50 year old machining centres and 20 year old assembly lines.

Measure your quality, make improvements from there. It's no good mandating that everything must be assembled by a space-age (yes I know the space age was the 1970s) assembly line if you're not actually improving anything.

RE: Resources to keep up with modern assembly methods.

Were they, by chance, more of a sales role? The customer that made the comments, I mean.

It's far from exclusive, but I notice that those in sales are much more likely to be concerned with appearances over content. I'd say a machine shop and assembly plant that doesn't have machinery over 20 years old means that the shop wasn't open 20 years ago. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" gets you far so long as you're impartial about whether or not it's reached it's limit. There are plenty of retrofit kits and sensors for collecting and monitoring data on machinery that was originally built before World War 2. It's hard to make an art deco era machine look "modern" sometimes, lol.

Don't take it too had. Use it as an impetus to evaluate things objectively from that point of view, but don't assume "you're missing something" just because a visitor made a flippant comment.

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