When incorporating Lean Manufacturing principles into a facility, many want to implement a robust plan with complicated solutions immediately. Aside from budget constraints making this difficult, implementing so many changes to a line at once can often backfire. The image on the right shows a gradual progression of material handling solutions.
Starting with simple improvements like replacing fork trucks with tuggers, or adding lineside flow racks, are good places to start on the lean journey. These basic improvements will help get the line balanced.
Another part of the maturity curve that is not illustrated is culture change. Getting rid of non-value added workers can increase profitability, but the changes impact morale. When done over time, with employee buy-in, lean solutions can positively affect culture and the bottom line.
Automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) are at the top of the solution maturity curve for a good reason. Implementing other solutions first will help you gradually form processes and routes that are required for successful AGV implementation. Adding these vehicles to your facility without integrating the other solutions on the curve could lead to failure.
Benefits of AGVs
If done correctly, there are many benefits to implementing AGVs in your facility, including:
- Eliminating unnecessary touch
- Low cost
- Increase throughput
- Increase accuracy
- Accommodate increased complexity of parts
- Optimize floor space
- Decrease safety incidents
Getting Ready for AGVs
Once you have successfully implemented simpler solutions, and think you might be ready for AGVs, use a spaghetti diagram to see where people and material is moving. This will help you spot the wastes in transportation, and assist in visualizing optimal routes. Once optimal routes have been finalized, mark the floor with these routes. Keep an eye on movement to see if in practice, the routes established are working or if they need to be adjusted. After marking the floor with your routes, and doing the same routes consistently, AGVs can be considered for your facility.
Are you interested in Trilogiq’s services, and how we can help you with AGV integration? RSVP to our upcoming Solutions Expo on October 29, 2015 to visit our facility and learn more.