You’re a busy manufacturer that can’t afford to wait for materials to come back from the roll former. You’re also keeping a close eye on your budget.
Your ideal roll former would find ways to cut lead times and costs while providing you with the best-quality roll forming. You should partner with a roll former that seeks to continuously improve their process.
Since continuous improvement is a journey and not a destination, many roll forming companies are always seeking out ways to streamline the manufacturing floor layout -- benefiting both vendor and customer. Central storage of metal-forming tools is a major part of those efforts.
Here’s how consolidated practices in OEM tool storage benefit those who buy from roll forming companies:
Metal Forming Tools, Meet Kanban
Using “pull production” rather than “push production” -- meaning, using a demand-driven approach rather than a supply-driven approach -- is a manufacturing philosophy that’s existed for decades. In an industry like metal roll forming, “pull production” means everything from raw materials to the finished product should be available just in time and in an appropriate volume.
Kanban is among the most successful versions of this pull, or “just in time,” approach to manufacturing. When applied, a Kanban system uses a visual approach with cards, bins or other aids to keep the process in sight and top of mind. The concept is actually more a philosophy than a system because each application is different, with its own challenges to overcome.
In metal roll forming, an important facet of Kanban is centralized roll forming tooling storage with the goal of:
- Cutting manufacturing lead times
- Reducing errors by simplifying the tooling identification and acquisition timing process
- Standardizing the manufacturing floor layout
Kanban in Roll Form Tooling
Kanban is all about perfecting manufacturing processes, and one area that presents a prime target for improvement is the handling of metal shaping tools. Keeping all tools in one central location is a start because it saves time and eliminates the cost of reinventing the wheel because the first wheel can’t be found. Add a Kanban approach, and the results can be impressive.
The main components of a tool centralization system may include:
- A central tool storage area that serves all production lines
- Moving tools from the central storage area to the roll forming machines via a transfer system with fixed input and output locations.
- A feedback loop that indicates when roll forming tooling needs maintenance and/or sharpening.
Sounds simple enough. But without genius touches like Kanban “squares” painted on the floor to denote where inbound and outbound tools should go, it would face the same chances of waste, confusion, and bottlenecking as any other system. Thanks to the squares, everything is in plain view for everyone involved.
Some may argue that central tool storage destroys the convenience of having storage at each production line. However, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Workers tend to specialize in one area. With storage at each line, a “specialized” worker tends to create a personal system with which no one else is familiar. This can lead to big problems when the “specialist” gets sick or leaves and someone else needs to find a tool ASAP.
Benefits of Kanban Squares & Other Centralized Storage Practices
There are several benefits that come with centralized roll forming tool storage, including:
- Increased efficiency & productivity through standardization
- Shorter lead times
- Faster setup
- End-customer savings
Increased Efficiency & Productivity Through Standardization
The tooling support staff will create and maintain the system, so they’ll be well-positioned to spot and correct weaknesses. The manufacturing floor layout can become much more efficient as well.
Shorter Lead Times
Having properly maintained and sharpened tools immediately at hand keeps the process moving along. There should be virtually no delays in manufacturing lead times due to misplaced tooling.
A standardized system allows workers to shift from line to line, and everyone follows the same loading system. No one is a “specialist,” but everyone is proficient.
The most important benefit of this Kanban-friendly system comes to the end customer. The savings generated by greater efficiency and reduced waste of time and materials can be passed on.
Your Roll Forming Manufacturing Goals
Dahlstrom Roll Form has added central tool storage and standardized retrieval systems. This has increased our response time. It’s all part of the continuous improvement journey toward a shorter supply chain.
To learn more about how a roll-forming company should use Kanban to meet your manufacturing goals, click here.
Have questions? We’ve got answers. Contact us today:
(Editor's note: This article was originally published in February 2019 and was recently updated.)
6 Common Metal Forming Processes
The type of metal forming process you choose will depend on many factors: What metal are you using? What's your budget? What do you need to create, and how will it be used?
Some of the most common types of metal forming techniques are:
There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution to metal parts manufacturing. What works for producing one metal component may not work for another.
Understanding the applications for different types of metal manufacturing will help you choose the best one for your metal components.
Durability. Flexibility. Cost-effectiveness. Adaptability for a variety of industrial and commercial applications. You’ve probably wondered at some point how hot forming and cold forming compare in these categories.