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 at this point. 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.
Since continuous improvement is a journey and not a destination, we roll forming companies are always seeking out ways to streamline the manufacturing floor layout -- benefiting both vendor and customer. It was only a matter of time before roll forming tooling became a focus of those efforts.
Here’s how consolidated practices in tooling storage benefit those who buy from roll forming companies:
Roll Forming Tooling, Meet Kanban
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 or 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 has to do with centralized roll forming tooling storage with the goal of:
Cutting lead times
Simplifying the tooling identification and acquisition timing process (reducing errors)
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 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 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 in see.
Some may argue that central tool storage destroys the convenience of having storage at each production line. However, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Workers tends 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:
Increased Efficiency & Productivity Through Standardization
The tooling support staff will create and maintain the system, so they will be well positioned to spot and correct weaknesses. The manufacturing floor layout can become much more efficient as well.
Shorter Lead Times
Having tools that are properly maintained and sharpened immediately at hand keep the process moving along. There should be virtually no instances of delays in 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.
End Customer Savings
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 as lower prices.
Your Manufacturing Goals
Dahlstrom Roll Form plans to add central tool storage as we implement a new manufacturing floor layout for our plant in the near future. It’ll 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.
Customers don't ask for much. All they want is the right product at the right price, delivered on time and free from defects. That doesn't seem unreasonable, but many manufacturers struggle to hit all four points simultaneously. Hitting all four on a consistent basis is harder still.
To manufacturers, a channel is one of the most simplistic shapes on earth. This helps explain why channels are a commodity product -- they’re easy to make and extremely functional. As simple as a roll formed steel channel is, understanding price factors is a little more complicated.