If you initially believed that this term refers to how cell phones are being produced, don’t fret, you’re not alone. Be happy, because today, that notion will be dispelled.
What is Cellular Manufacturing?
Cellular manufacturing draws inspiration from just-in-time manufacturing and lean manufacturing and it was instituted to make as many similar products as possible without incurring as much waste.
How Did Cellular Manufacturing Come into Existence?
Flanders proposed the principles of group technology in 1925 and Mitrofanov adopted this proposition in 1933. However, cellular manufacturing didn’t become a thing until the 1970s when it was being promoted by Burbridge. It was finally adopted by Japanese firms in the 70s and this technology found its way to the United States in the 1980s.
How is Cellular Manufacturing Possible?
Cellular manufacturing uses the concept of cells arranged in an assembly line with each cell comprising of a variety of machines built to accomplish different objectives. In order to complete a certain part of the production process, the product goes through each cell.
Optimal Arrangement of Cells for Flexibility
In cellular arrangement, an overseer is required to monitor the affairs and ensure that there’s no breach in the process. Even though the entire process is automated, changes can be implemented as quickly as possible, making it incredibly easy to scale or change certain features in the product design.
The cells, since they are created to facilitate workflow, are designed in the form of a U-line. Why is this so?
- To ensure high visibility
- To facilitate contact
- To allow one-piece flow occur
- The operator moves less while on the job.
The Benefits of Cellular Manufacturing
Why should you even consider cellular manufacturing? You’ll get not one, not two, but four genuine reasons.
- Cellular manufacturing ensures quality control
- Simplified and auditable cost models are possible with cellular manufacturing
- Cellular manufacturing sharpens your sense of focus.
- A cohesive and closely-knit relationship is formed among employees
Implementing Cellular Manufacturing
There are certain steps which businesses can take to initiate cellular manufacturing. These steps are delineated below.
- Categorize the different parts to be built according to their similarities into families.
- Perform Production Flow Analysis (PFA) for each family in order to data of each family.
- Group machines using algorithms such as Rank Order Clustering, Modified Rank Order Clustering, and Similarity coefficient.
- Factor in variables like multiple plant locations, multi-market allocations, and other product planning mix to minimize factors such as the cost of holding, transportation, and salaries.
While some pundits argue that cellular manufacturing has its disadvantages, the ease of implementation and inherent advantages far outweigh the drawbacks.