"We've succeeded in manufacturing our products in chaotic order following a pull principle. Single-unit batches and more short-term, customer-tailored solutions are becoming the norm, together with extremely rapid throughput times."
Bender's challenge was to be able to manufacture existing as well as future products in an Industry 4.0-style production system, to further boost productivity. This approach needed to take into account the firm's great product diversity with highly variably manufacturing complexity, in annual volumes of a single unit up to several tens of thousands.
An integrated production system was developed and implemented together with the construction of a new final assembly plant for Bender products. A system for transferring equipment and products was also built, and the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) paired with the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for production management. A worker information system, which supplies the necessary information to workers, is an integral component of the manufacturing process. A traceability system was also created, while a lean culture and lean tools contribute to continuous improvement and the elimination of waste (lean management is a form of process optimization that seeks to minimize waste and harmonize processes).
The manufacturing control system that ensures targeted transport of equipment and products to the workstations is directly connected to the planning system through its link to ERP, which supports automatic tracking of processing and process times as well as manufacturing steps. Processes are aligned with value creation, to prevent waste. The system operates on a “pull production” principle, i.e. the latest possible start to the value creation phase and the fastest possible throughput. Its modular structure allows for flexible integration of additional automated stations in place of manual workstations, and vice versa. The manufacturing system is also adaptable to new requirements, and operates on the principle of “one piece flow” line production.
This makes Bender an ideal example for how Industry 4.0 technologies can boost value creation.