How a lean philosophy helped increase employee productivity

Siemens Canada is a century-old company which specializes in electrification, automation, and digitalization. With its focus on innovation; the company is always looking to improve its operating techniques. Over time, it had become increasingly clear that the organizational system at Siemens RUGGEDCOM’s facility in Concord, Ontario, was not working to its full potential.

Therefore, the company’s managers decided to address this issue and explore more viable solutions. Read on to learn how implementing a lean philosophy brought about more streamlined operations and increased ergonomics in the workplace.

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NOW 100 per day
compare to 60 units
70%
of the production floor has material handling system
LESS
Unnecessary movements
MORE
Efficiency

 

Freeing up floor space as part of a lean philosophy

The major problem was that the facility floor was disorganized, and this was negatively impacting productivity. The many boxes laying around in the warehouse accumulating dust was one of the factors that prompted management to look into instilling a lean philosophy.

Officials wanted a leaner and more efficient system, but they quickly realized that they just did not have the necessary equipment to reach their goal.

 

Download the PDF or image version of this case study

 

Flow racks

Flow racks to manage stock easily

After weighing different options, RUGGEDCOM’s managers decided that a modular system with tube and joint connectors would best suit their needs. They then scheduled an assembly training session, so its production team could learn how to use the system. It didn’t take long for RUGGEDCOM to realize just how much the modular system was going to benefit the organization.

It is visually cleaner, you can customize, and it’s easy to change.

Marwan Totayo – Production Engineer Manager at Siemens RUGGEDCOM.

RUGGEDCOM has a full-time assembler for modular handling structures who takes the design and prototypes from the senior production leader and works to create it. With continuous innovation in mind, each operator is encouraged to express workplace needs and suggest improvements to existing material handling solutions.

Once the structures have been assembled, a maintenance check is frequently carried out to analyze existing racks. Adjustments are made when the structures no longer meet workers’ needs.

Flow rack part presentation

The facility also has 2 bins Kanban systems for parts. When one of the two bins is empty, additional components are ordered to avoid running out of stock. Another plus of this system is that the employee can distinguish the parts easier and see which parts he will run out of shortly.

 

Racks with bins in 5S warehouse

A specific location for each part to reduce unnecessary movements

The modular system’s flexibility proved to be extremely beneficial for RUGGEDCOM as the team was able to adapt box sizes according to the products they would store. The modular handling system was also ideal for implementing the company’s “first-in-first-out (FIFO)” Kanban system. Several of these structures were created for receiving, warehousing, kitting, assembly, testing, staging, and shipping.

Finally, flow rack structures were installed so operators no longer had to carry hefty products throughout the plant.

Gravity flow racks in 5S warehouse

At the moment, 70% of the RUGGEDCOM production floor is equipped with a material handling system. Additional structures are also planned for the facility’s kitting and shipping departments. Workers have become accustomed to frequently submitting new ideas for structures, which has dramatically increased the factory’s productivity level.

Since they have begun using these solutions, the facility has nearly doubled its production from 60 to 100 units per day. This gain was achieved by building kitting carts in advance to stage next-day parts. Moreover, line-side presentation racks have eliminated time spent walking around and searching for parts.

packing zone made of modular racks

Flow rack station

Line-side gravity flow racks feed parts to assemblers, and all racks are close enough for easy reach of all parts. This makes for an ergonomic work environment, and it eliminates unnecessary movements.

To further maximize efficiency, 3 production lines were merged into a single working cell, which reduced by half the number of workers needed to man it.

 

5s worksation

A lean philosophy for the whole plant

When it came time to implement a lean philosophy at RUGGEDCOM, its equipment and installations were inadequate to streamline its operations and address ergonomic concerns. By adding flow racks to the production area, as well as a system to avoid overstocking and unnecessary movements, operators can now carry out their tasks much more efficiently.

In the end, All the results brought about by the modular system proved to RUDGECOM’s team that it was indeed a smart decision to change their equipment!

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Russell Fedun - Project Manager - Ontario

Russ is a senior sales engineer and project manager at Flexpipe. With over 30 years of experience in technical sales, Russ has extensive knowledge of lean manufacturing. He currently takes care of our customers in Toronto.