Cellular Manufacturing Drives Lean, Flexible Operations

Has your organization taken advantage of the benefits of cellular manufacturing? If you are not already familiar with it, cellular manufacturing is based on a Group Technology concept that involves the implementation of work cells to drive effective production. To expand on this explanation further, a work cell is a group of equipment and workstations that are arranged in a logical sequence for streamlined production. The idea is that the individual cells can continuously produce a product without waiting for subsequent operations to finish.

Cellular Manufacturing and the Need to Change

There is an obvious demand among the manufacturing sector to change and adapt in a dynamic world. The strategic importance of manufacturing elements is increased when their running costs and role in adding value are also increased. As a result, manufacturing systems today must be highly integrated and well thought out. This is the concept behind cellular manufacturing as cells are designed to a specific product family to offer flexibility in production to meet the requirements of that specific customer. An integral part of lean management, cellular manufacturing helps to create a smooth flow of materials to shorten the total customer delivery lead-time.

Primary Focus for Cellular Manufacturing

There is a primary focus for manufacturing cells within the cellular manufacturing environment. You will notice the measurable differences as the cells are put in place to reduce throughput times and lessen inventories so that your company can better meet market responses. With this primary focus in place, your company can also realize benefits such as improved resource utilization, a greater control over quality, a reduction in the needed space to complete a task and overall work enrichment.

The Four Types of Cells in Cellular Manufacturing

There are essentially four types of cells within cellular manufacturing and they include Product Focused Cell, Project Cell, Functional Cell and Group Technology Cell. The cell is designed specifically to be as efficient as possible and will include those elements that can be easily grouped together. Things you may need to consider in this process are those products that can easily fit into a cell, the market segments or requirements for the product and a degree of automation for that specific step of production.

Designing the Cell for Cellular Manufacturing

Aside from the market segments, the fit of the products and the potential for automation, there are other things you must consider in the design of your work cell. The two most important elements to consider are manufacturing performance and the demand for the product. You also need to consider the relationship between demand variability and operational flexibility, as well as the overall care of the asset. Cellular manufacturing won’t deliver on the expected benefits if you skip these important steps in designing the work cell.

Cellular Manufacturing Benefits

There are significant benefits that your organization can realize with cellular manufacturing, but you have to be willing to focus on the design of the work cells and how you implement them into your environment. If you do your homework before you make this move, you can improve asset utilization, reduce your lead times, make better utilization of space, improve your product quality and reduce the amount of capital you have tied up in inventory.