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Wilson. As he noted, the notion of AGVs is a great idea, but he said the system might break down when an AGV has to interact with other machinery in the plant. “How would an AGV talk to a hoist that lifts up the part [that it is carrying]?” he asked rhetorically. There are communication diffi culties outside the plant as well, between design engineers who use CAD and manufacturing engineers who use CAM. “Engineers create these beautiful sculpted surfaces, but I fi nd that not one in 100 know enough about the dynamics of the machine tool cutting path traversing a curve, taking into account velocities or accelera- tions,” he said.


The consensus seemed that to advance to a future factory, current organizational thinking needs to advance as well.


Demise of Lean Thinking Minarcin of Omron


Moving be ond the standard six-degrees-of-freedom


Automation, the panel modera- tor, also challenged one of the fundamental tenets of modern manufacturing—lean thinking. Most of the panel agreed with her premise. The industry must move beyond lean.


“The constructs of lean that developed our current system has been around since before we had personal computing,” she said. It was lean thinking that developed the linear production lines of today, with production time and effi ciency per operation ranked as more important than anything else. “The problem I have with lean, Six Sigma and just-in-time today is that it is an incremental and often localized technique that does not allow for the innovation process required to address optimizing product complexity or consumer choice,” she said. “We need to look at the construct of the factory system.” Optimizing in a linear fashion limits fl exibility and consumer choice while not addressing the return on investment which is possible. It is at odds with the changing automotive market. “Lean has to die,” she said.


The demise of lean also has to do with how best to use humans in a global marketplace faced with encroaching


Moving beyond the standard six-degrees-of-freedom one-armed robot requires a global kinematic model an n-DOF reconfi gurable machinery structure, according to Professor Ana Djuric of Wayne State.


automation, according to Jeffrey Liaw, engineering man- ager for Martinrea (Vaughan, ON), a supplier of automotive body parts. Liaw is in a unique position where his body parts plant located in Ontario also has a factory making the same parts in Mexico. “If I lean out my plant and save, say, $5 million dollars annually, the plant in Mexico would do the same thing,” he said. “We in the fi rst world cannot compete with low-cost country wages trying to achieve the lowest cost through traditional effi cient lean techniques. It provides us no advantage.” Operating from the premise


that fl exible manufacturing is a plus, the question he posed to himself is how to best employ creative humanity to their best potential—not just how best to lean out any particular process. “The questions we should ask ourselves are: what can we do to offer people more salary? How do we make people who


work for us more creative and therefore more valuable?” he said.


Liaw also agrees that culture may be the biggest


roadblock. “Traditional lean assumes one thinker and many followers,” he said.


“But a single perspective becomes a barrier, it becomes impossible to understand all of the problems in a plant or opportunities to improve. If you push solving problems down to the local workcell, they become smaller, and easier solve,” he said. What he did was essentially raise the expected skill level of each of his workers, with positive results. A reconfi gurable plant where complexity and choice are the most important features, where locally empowered work- ers are free to solve their own problems, will challenge many fundamentals of today’s thinking. “Manufacturing constraints are the culprit,” he said.


“The real issue is, are we giving enough leeway to the plant to get solutions.”


19 — Motorized Vehicle Manufacturing 2017


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