Striking out in new future directions is the big topic at Plasser & Theurer these days. That we pursue this consistently, can also be shown in the restructuring of our cabin production. In less than twelve months, we have merged three separate workshops to form one workshop at a new location and instituted an innovative and highly efficient production process.
April 2018. Due to increasing space constraints at the three cabin construction sites in Linz the decision was made to pool the entire cab construction into one workshop. The challenges this entailed were huge, since the three works used to manufacture independently from another.
May 2018. An analysis of the situation so far and an initial concept outlining the new production were completed. At this stage it was established that the new production should combine the benefits of the assembly line with those of the fixed station assembly.
Clocked assembly line with special fixed stations
It was envisaged that the bulk of the cabins is to be produced in nine equally long work cycles. Since different cabin types require different assembly times, each station is allocated the number of staff required for the specific amount of work to be carried out. This ensures the same production time for each cab. For special-design cabins there are separate fixed stations where they can be fully assembled.
Intensive staff involvement
Detailed planning was to be completed by November 2018, at the same time the construction work in the new production hall was carried out. A key component was the precise definition of the job content for each work cycle. Each process step was analysed together with the staff in order to develop the process for each cycle and to coordinate it perfectly. The staff were also involved in selecting the new work tools.
Material logistics follows 'just in time principle'
A key feature of the new cab production is the new material logistics. Only the material needed for assembly in a working day is available at the work cycle stations. Materials and installation elements are no longer fetched by the fitters but brought to the work station by a dedicated member of staff. Dedicated workpiece trolleys are loaded by the logistics specialist and placed at the work cycle stations in good time. This saves time for the fitters who can now focus fully on the task at hand.
Production launch in January 2019
At the end of November 2018 all preparation work was completed, and the first trial cabin could be built according to the new production system. One month later, on 1st January 2019, the new production began full operation. Martin Kaiser: “After the first few months of working with the new system we can see that it works well. We have increased efficiency and the quality of assembly, the staff are happy. Naturally, we recognise that there is room for improvement which we will utilise to further refine the production system.
The experience gained in restructuring the cab production will also benefit other projects for modernisation of production areas that are planned in the near future. Overall, this will increase our competitiveness in the long-term.
It was of particular importance for us to involve our staff’s practical experiences. This made it possible to design optimised work sequences. In addition, the staff were able to identify themselves with the new production method right from the start. Only if they are happy in their workplace will they perform at their best.
Leiter des Kabinenbaus, Plasser & Theurer