Case Study

Achieve Productivity Improvements on a Matured Line

With alert systems in place, the world-leading switch manufacturer was able to identify points of improvements to optimized their already matured golden line.

1. Background

Headquartered in Hong Kong, the company is a world-leading supplier of switches, electronic modules and sensors. With locations across the globe, the company prides itself on providing reliable and high quality components for its customers from different industries, ranging from automotive to home appliances, power tools to many others.

2. Business Challenge

Serving as a fast-paced working environment with over 6,000 employees, there are multiple actions happening simultaneously at the company’s South China plant, hence it was hard for site managers to monitor and keep tracks of everything without a real-time data collection system in place.

There were ongoing issues which were difficult to resolve at first such as lack of materials and resolving abnormalities. “Whenever an abnormality occurred, we would go on-site and seek answers as of why things happened the way they did.” Mentioned Mr. Li, Project Manager of the site, when asked about their production bottlenecks. “However, we noticed that many operators downplayed the issue when asked, so it was hard for industrial engineers to objectively learn of what exactly happened.”

As there was no real-time production data available, it was troublesome for industrial engineers to analyze its line as well as calculate the ratio of utilization in terms of line balancing. When identifying line bottlenecks, industrial engineers had to conduct line inspections and analyze the root causes after situations/abnormalities had already occurred based on their experience, knowledge and logics. However, without a clear and full understanding of what really happened, they were sometimes all but a speculation.

On the other hand, there were usually signs when machines were about to malfunction and would be in need of maintenance. The site’s standard procedure is to call in professional technicians to maintain and inspect the machines thoroughly. However, some on-site employees would spot the signs and went ahead to fix the machines themselves instead of calling the technicians in for a full inspection and maintenance.

3. Solution

One of the site’s golden lines consists of about 30 workstations, the site identified 16 crucial stations and installed cameras to be integrated into PowerArena’s data collection system.

The system generated real-time and objective data of the production line 24/7, and with an alert system in place, site managers were notified immediately when things were out of place. They were also notified should there be stationed workers trying to fix machines before the machines malfunctioned. 

“PowerArena’s tool combines the knowledge of an QE (Quality Engineer), IE (Industrial Engineer) and PE (Process Engineer)” said Li, “It provides insights and enables us to know in real-time whenever an unexpected situation occurs which effectively improves our efficiency when it comes to troubleshooting among other things.”

The data PowerArena collects provides Industrial Engineers with an objective view of their production lines. The videos recorded also enable IEs to playback and identify the issues that were affecting their line productivity, either it be the malfunction of machines, lack of materials or worker absence, and they are able to quickly eliminate the factors and resolve the problems to improve their line efficiency and productivity.

Results

The line deployed was the site’s golden line, which was already a mature line. Before PowerArena came in, the site already had a picture of the issues they faced in the line, such as anomalous actions. However, PowerArena helped pointing out some unexpected issues that the site wasn’t fully aware of. For instance, the standard operation procedure for certain operations require workers to operate with both hands, however, through PowerArena’s system and videos recorded, it was brought to their attention that some workers were only using one hand instead of both to operate the tasks which results in lower efficiency. PowerArena pointed out the issue and additional training for the workers was offered.

With the insights on its production line gathered through PowerArena, plant managers were able to identify points of improvement and increase its productivity. Upon deployment, the site reported a reduction in working hours of 28,230 hours per year which translates to over 100% in ROI.