Towards a balanced assembly
The right distribution of activities over the successive workstations on an assembly line is quite a puzzle. Prescribed actions must be performed at a set rhythm. The jobs must be structured in such a way that there is little or no walking and waiting. This requires a sophisticated approach.
A lack of alignment of activities at an assembly line often leads to:
- An inefficient process
- High costs, partly caused by idle time
- Quality risks
- Downtime and a lagging production volume
- Unbalanced workload and unrest.
Such situations can be improved considerably with Line Balancing.
With Line Balancing all jobs on the assembly line are carefully analysed. This analysis starts with observations, during which it is noted how long each job actually takes. So it is not based on standardized times, but on the actual duration.
Next, the individual jobs are optimized using the Lean method. In practice, substantial savings are realized in this phase. Finally, the jobs are re-arranged in an optimal way – this is the actual line balancing. It is then determined who performs which operation at which workstation and which activities can be combined.
Without Line Balancing, an overload of activities at one workstation inevitably leads to waiting times at the other workstations. With Line Balancing, the jobs are distributed as well as possible, there is less walking, and waiting times are eliminated as much as possible from the process. As a result, all workstations are used almost equally.
Results of Line Balancing
Line Balancing can only be successful if the optimization is actually implemented. This seems logical, but the practice is unruly. We are too often confronted with resistance to change from operators as well as their managers. Moreover, this change has an impact on other departments and stakeholders, such as logistics, quality, and product development, each of which has its own interests and priorities.
Line Balancing must be implemented carefully, so that the improvements are maintained in the organization and as many results as possible are achieved.
The results of Line Balancing are very worthwhile:
- An efficient process
- Lower costs, in particular due to lower staffing
- Higher quality and less downtime
- A higher production volume
- Balanced workload, peace and order.
Moreover, in practice more ergonomic work is possible.
PDM and Line Balancing
PDM has experts who can successfully implement Line Balancing for assembly lines in various production environments. The expertise relates to the line balancing as such (analysis and optimization) as well as to change management (implementation and coaching). In other words, we provide support at operational level and guidance at management level.
Our experts can strengthen your team as a consultant or (temporarily) as a hands-on employee – anyhow: we work together with your own employees in a learning team.
The investment in balancing the assembly line can be recovered on short notice.