You can hear a lot about cellular manufacturing when discussing lean principles and optimization techniques with people interested in the field, but you may eventually notice that the actual benefits of this methodology are not fully understood by many, sometimes even by people who claim to have a lot of professional experience in the field. Knowing what cellular manufacturing can do for your own organization can lead to great improvements down the road, and if you apply it correctly, you may even see a complete transformation of your production process into something much more streamlined and optimized.
It Allows for Easy Standardization
When everything is produced by an individual, discrete cell with a specific purpose, this can allow you to easily transfer those production processes from one node in the chain to another. This means that you’ll no longer have to deal with issues like having to train a different department on the steps involved in a process that’s new for them – they will already have the information available from within the company’s own training materials.
This also means that components can be easily swapped out and replaced with different ones, should the need for that arise. If you need to switch to a different type of production method for a specific part, for example, this can be treated as a localized problem and not something that concerns other parts of the production chain. As you’ll quickly see, the benefits of this can be tremendous, especially when combined with a modular approach to the production of each individual piece.
Bottlenecks Can Be Identified More Easily
Another great benefit of cellular manufacturing is that it makes those pesky bottlenecks much more obvious and allows you to deal with them in a systematic manner instead of having to wrangle huge data sets. It can sometimes be impossible to tell where exactly a bottleneck occurs when you have a lot of overlap between the different processes involved in your production, but when working with workcells, issues like that tend to become pretty obvious quite fast.
What’s more, you can then take what we mentioned above about swapping components out for different ones, and apply that to the faulty part of your production chain. You can easily fix the issue on a local level without affecting the rest of the production facility. Some more advanced implementations of this idea may even allow you to make these changes at runtime, although these are more extreme cases that probably won’t be relevant to the majority of facility managers out there.
You’ll See a Great Reduction of Costs
Last but definitely not least, another factor that draws many leaders to cellular manufacturing is that it creates many opportunities for cost reduction, and can allow you to streamline your entire operation much more effectively. This goes hand in hand with what we mentioned about bottlenecks above, but there is much more to the potential for cost reduction that cellular manufacturing creates for you. You can control the resources of each individual part of the network on a local level, so you can create a workflow that’s completely optimized down to the last point.
What’s more, the ability to swap out components comes into play here as well, as this modular approach to the design of your facility can allow you to easily upgrade – or downgrade – certain parts of it without affecting anything else. That way, you can gradually improve the entire facility as you build up the funding for that, and you won’t have to worry about impacting your operations in any other way.
Cellular design holds many potential benefits for those who know how to apply it correctly, and understanding those positive points is important before starting to work with the methodology. If you apply it properly and oversee its implementation all the way, you can expect great results in relatively little time after the process has been put in motion.