Precision Aerospace Machining and the Seven Wastes of Lean Manufacturing (part 6)

The sixth waste that we will examine is that of over-processing.  The definition of over-processing is to do more work on a piece than is required by the customer.  In the simplest explanation this is simply anything done to the part that does not add value to the product.  A good – and controversial – example of over-processing a part is inspection.

Pretty much everyone would agree (I assume) that inspection is a necessary part of the process of precision manufacturing.  When it comes to precision aerospace parts, it is difficult to imagine shipping parts without a full detailed inspection.  The consequence of a defective part could be catastrophic – so we inspect everything.  However in the process of inspection, assuming that the part is manufactured properly and passes inspection, nothing is done to increase the value to the customer.  The part is exactly the same after inspection as it was before.

There are many other ways to over-process a precision machined part.  Using tools that are more expensive than necessary, running machines too slow, over-engineering the fixtures, holding a tolerance beyond what is necessary for function, or a number of other problems.  Of all of the wastes, I think that over-processing may be the most difficult to eliminate, or even identify at times.

The approach that we take at CNC Industries to eliminate over-processing starts before we run the first part of the first batch that we produce.  Before any new part is produced, we conduct a ‘pre-flight meeting’ in which we examine all aspects of the part.  We will look into all of the common areas of over-processing and ensure that steps are taken to prevent over-processing.  Once a consensus process is established and reviewed to ensure that it will be ‘lean’ enough, we enter the router information into Job Manager 2, our ERP system.  At this time the process established will be on record for each involved party – from purchasing to final shipping, all processes have been reviewed to eliminate over-processing, as well as the other wastes.

With our electronic information system we are able to continually review the established processes quickly and thoroughly.  Every employee in the company is also able to suggest improvements – which has many times lead to a reduction of waste – often through elimination of over-processing.  With over-processing waste it is critical to constantly be looking for a better way to produce the parts.  The effects of over-processing can be very expensive, but it is often hard to detect.

– – – –

CNC Industries is a Fort Wayne, Indiana based machine shop specializing in precision CNC machining, fabrication and assembly of application-critical and custom machined parts for the Aerospace, Defense, Medical, Industrial and Transportation  markets.   The company presently employs approximately 55 people.

– – – –

June 25th, 2010|

AS 9100 Audit is complete

July 16th was the final day of our Stage 2 AS9100 audit!  It has been a lengthy, stressful time to move from ISO 9001 to AS 9100.  We have done extremely well in our audit process, and only have a pair of very minor findings to be 100%.  Both corrective actions are completed and we are waiting on getting a little bit of paperwork done, and then final review from the audit board at SGS and we will be officially certified as an AS9100 company.

At CNC Industries we look at this as another way to add confidence to our customers – who are extremely quality conscious.  As I have talked about on this blog aerospace machining is a difficult industry to be in.  The price, quality, and delivery requirements put on aerospace suppliers are all extreme and the management of the business must be able to handle the many pressures and unforeseen issues that will arise.

Here at CNC Industries, we feel that we have all of the tools necessary to provide the best of the ‘three-legged stool’ to our customers – best price, on-time delivery, and quality.  We look forward to issuing a formal press release as soon as the paperwork is complete on the audit.

– – – –

CNC Industries is a Fort Wayne, Indiana based machine shop specializing in precision CNC machining, fabrication and assembly of application-critical and custom machined parts for the Aerospace, Defense, Medical, Industrial and Transportation  markets.   The company presently employs approximately 55 people.

– – – –

June 23rd, 2010|Tags: |

Precision Aerospace Machining and the seven wastes of lean manufacturing (part 5)

The fifth of the seven wastes is the most readily obvious waste – defects.  A part or product that is not made correctly and needs to be either re-worked or discarded, is obviously a waste.  The time spent on the original part is wasted, the material and other costs are wasted, the time that it takes to re-work or re-make the part is wasted.  Overall defects cause considerable disruptions and waste.

Once again high volume work has an easier time of removing defects from the process.  the length of the run of a part will justify creating more complex and expensive fixturing to enable quality at the course – so that the part has little or no chance of being produced improperly.  Custom inspection procedures will allow quick discovery of any non-conforming parts as well.

In a low volume high mix facility – as a large portion of CNC Industries is, making custom machined parts and precision aerospace machined parts, we cannot spend an extensive amount of time on fixturing – our lead time for the entire first batch of product is sometimes shorter than production companies will spend on a single fixture for a production part.  The inspection requirements and quality standards will also vary – sometimes greatly – between parts running through our shop at the same time.  We have to ensure that each fixture is made quickly and still performs as it needs to.

Of course defects are caused by a myriad of issues beyond just the fixturing the part correctly.  We have many more methods of preventing mistakes and defects before they occur, but I think a more telling evaluation of a companies dedication to eliminating defects is the processes taken when a defect does occur.  At CNC Industries, we place great emphasis on root cause analysis and corrective / preventative actions.  As we are nearing our AS9100 certification, we are more aware of this need than ever before.

Our Corrective Action System is based on the Apollo Root Cause Analysis and allows and indefinite depth of root cause analysis.  We regard and defect as a serious issue and are quick to come to an understanding of the root cause that allowed the defect to occur.  With our ERP system, we are able to quickly resolve any ongoing systemic issue and immediately take the necessary corrective action to prevent future occurrences of the issue.  Preventative and corrective actions and their resolutions are transmitted throughout the company immediately upon completion and necessary procedural and process changes are automatically updated.  All relevant documentation is kept entirely in sync with our digital paperless document system.

The ability to adjust our entire process to address a deficiency in the processes that we utilize allows us to have an extremely low defect rate – and when the very occasional defect does occur we can quickly adapt and prevent the problem in the future.

– – – –

CNC Industries is a Fort Wayne, Indiana based machine shop specializing in precision CNC machining, fabrication and assembly of application-critical and custom machined parts for the Aerospace, Defense, Medical, Industrial and Transportation  markets.   The company presently employs approximately 55 people.

– – – –

Precision Aerospace Machining and the seven wastes of lean manufacturing (part 4)

The 4th waste identified in lean manufacturing is Motion.  Motion concerns the ergonomics of the workers in a process and any unnecessary steps or movement that they have in the process.

To again look at the difference of a high mix / low volume precision aerospace machining facility and a high volume production we will see a difference in the ability to reduce motion.  In a high volume production environment you can count on a particular workstation being focused on a single task – even if that task is performed over a variety of individual parts, the motions and the ergonomics will be similar.  In a low volume precision machine shop, the task on one day may be entirely different than the task of the prior day.  While they will be related still – depending on the functionality of the machine at the workstation – the individual parts may require a significant difference in motion or handling.

To compensate for this changing process, CNC industries has designed it’s facility to accommodate a high mix of precision parts easily.  While the information and documentation may vary from one part to another, we have standardized the method of getting that information into electronic information stations which are uniformly located near the workstations.  Each worker in our facility may count on being able to get all necessary work instructions in the same way.

We have also standardized our machine setups with the tooling being handle off of the machine to eliminate unnecessary motion in the setup process.  The advantages of removing extra motion include more productivity, less stress on the people involved in the process, as well as lowered chances of errors and mistakes being made.  So even with a facility dedicated to fully custom machined parts and prototypes, we can easily remove unnecessary wastes.

– – – –

CNC Industries is a Fort Wayne, Indiana based machine shop specializing in precision CNC machining, fabrication and assembly of application-critical and custom machined parts for the Aerospace, Defense, Medical, Industrial and Transportation  markets.   The company presently employs approximately 55 people.

– – – –

Precision Aerospace Machining and the Seven Wastes of Lean Manufacturing (part 7)

The final of the seven wastes that we are looking at is waiting.  Any time that a part is waiting is additional time that you are holding the costs of the part without receiving the income of the part.  Waiting, as we have identified it internally comes from three main places:  1) having a part or batch finish with one machine and the next machine required for the part is not available and 2) any part that is in a batch but is not currently being machined, 3) inventory.

The first of these items is very self-explanatory.  A batch of parts sitting by a machine waiting to be run through that machine is very obviously waiting.  What is a bit less obvious is that even while the batch is being machined, the majority of the parts are still waiting.  If there is a batch of 500 parts that each take 1 minute to complete an operation then at minimum each part will have 499 minutes of waiting while the rest are getting machined.

In any production facility where resources are shared between multiple batches / parts, it is extremely difficult to schedule all of the jobs so that no part is ever waiting at all.  In fact this scenario is used to illustrate a difficult to impossible problem to solve with computers – known as the Job Shop Problem.  This problem may be especially difficult in the aerospace machining industry.  With long lead times and large numbers of operations requiring many different resources, scheduling jobs to move through the shop at the best possible rate is exceptionally difficult.

At CNC Industries we address the problem of time wasted while a part is waiting in several different ways.  One of the main approaches is our design of a universal fixturing system.  We have designed a system of attaching fixtures to our milling machines that will allow a fixture to be machine independent in it’s use.  We may design a fixture assuming that the part will be run in one of our Haas VF-2 Superspeed machines, but find that our Toyoda Horizontal is a better choice.  With our universal fixturing system we can easily move the part to the most appropriate machine at the correct time and with minimal disruption.

Additionally we focus on redundant machines.  Our capacity for production needs to be unaffected by any downtime that a given machine may have.  We keep all of our machines well-maintained to prevent any problems, but there is on way to completely prevent down-time.  With redundant machines we have the security of knowing that we are not going to be in trouble meeting our deadlines if a machine has any unexpected down-times.

Finally we have worked very hard to get our batch sizes as small as is reasonably possible while also reducing the setup time of each batch.  This allows us to eliminate a sizable portion of each part waiting while the rest of the parts in the batch are being machined.  The smaller batch sizes also help us to reduce our inventory and prevent the third source of waiting that we have identified.

– – – –

CNC Industries is a Fort Wayne, Indiana based machine shop specializing in precision CNC machining, fabrication and assembly of application-critical and custom machined parts for the Aerospace, Defense, Medical, Industrial and Transportation  markets.   The company presently employs approximately 55 people.

– – – –

June 9th, 2010|

Precision Aerospace Machining and the Seven Wastes of Lean (Part 3)

In continuing on the Lean Journey, we will talk about the third of seven wastes: Inventory.  Historically, inventory was not considered a waste.  Large batch manufacturing was a necessity at the beginning of modern machining and manufacturing.  Inventory stocks were considered healthy as they indicated that a business could ship to their customers quickly.  The story of Inventory becoming considered a waste starts in post WWII Japan.  Japan underwent a transformation in their productivity and processes after WWII and began to compete well on the world market.  Unfortunately Japan does not have the land area that America does, and therefore the cost of holding inventory was much greater – due to the higher property costs, etc.  Toyoda quickly realized that smaller batches, when made efficiently, lead to lower overall costs than large batches do.

In a precision aerospace machining environment, a balancing act is needed.  Since CNC Industries machines a large variety of precision parts we cannot afford to have a specialized machine for each part or process that we do.  Small machine shops also do not have the luxury of a rolling assembly line between our machines.  With these restrictions, and the large amount of processing and manufacturing time that it takes to make a single aerospace part, we are put into a more difficult position that a production facility.  We cannot truly operate with no inventory as the goal would be, so we must decide on the ideal inventory to keep on hand.

Precision aerospace machining processes typically have rather long setup times relative to simpler machining processes.  This causes the ideal batch size to increase in order to compensate for the lost time on the machine while it is down for setup.  At CNC Industries we have worked long and hard to decrease our setup times and have successfully lowered our setup time by 75% over the last 5 years.  This has enable us to lower the ideal batch size as well, which in turn allows us to hold less inventory.

In addition to the setup process improvements that we have made over the years, information management is key to efficiently running small batches.  Smaller batches will mean more switchovers, more setups, and more jobs running at the same time.  With all of these issues, scheduling is both critical and difficult.  Job Manager II allows us to have a visual reference of the schedule at any computer throughout our facility and quickly identifies and problems or potential problems at an early stage of the process which allows us to quickly make any necessary adjustments.

CNC Industries is Re-Assessed to ISO 9001-2008

SGS PROUDLY ANNOUNCES ISO 9001:2008 RE-ASSESMENT OF: CNC INDUSTRIES INC., A PRECISON MACHINING AND MANUFACTURING COMPANY

For Immediate Release

SGS is pleased to announce the successful ISO 9001:2008 Re-Assessment for CNC Industries Inc. A PRECISON MACHINING AND MANUFACTURING COMPANY. This re-assessment confirms that CNC Industries’ Quality Management System continues to conform to the requirements of ISO 9001:2008, which was originally certified at CNC Industries in 2003.

CNC Industries Inc., established in December 1995, specializes in precision machining of standard and custom parts for medical, aerospace, defense, semiconductor, analytical, and other industrial industries. The company’s lean manufacturing practices, skilled machinist workforce, and quick-turn machining solutions, include the latest technology in CNC flexible machining centers as well as the latest Information Management technology.

The majority of products are machined complete from aluminum or plastic plate or bar stock, or from metal castings or forgings. All manufacturing, sales and administrative activities are conducted from its 36,000 sq. ft. production facility in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The company takes great pride in providing customers with quality machined products and fabrications, delivered on time, at optimal and competitive cost.

CNC_ISO 9001-2008

For more information regarding CNC Industries Inc. please refer to the company web site, http://www.cncind.com , or call             260-490-5700       x123 or 122.

For more details on SGS registration services, we encourage you to visit our website at www.us.sgs.com.

June 1st, 2010|

Ordering custom machined parts with a new machine shop supplier

In continuing the last post on finding a new precision machine shop for custom machined parts, I am going to go over a bit of what to expect with the first order or two.

Communication is still the key to the process.  At CNC Industries, we have often been told that our communication is a large part of the reason we are a favored suppliers.   Precision Machining is a relatively demanding process still today.   The information overload that comes with each part drawing can often lead to overlooked features or specifications.

Aerospace components often contain numerous mil-specs, customer-specific specifications, large amounts of technical call-outs, and even separate purchase order specifications.   Parts that are less complex than aerospace components may have critical details that are easy to overlook.  Part Revisioning can cause increased complexity and another chance to overlook a crucial piece of information.   If you have not checked it yet, it is important to carefully evaluate into your supplier’s information management system.     The Boeing Company has stated that they consider a supplier’s information management system an important part of their selection process.

It is important for the new machine shop supplier to ask any clarifying questions necessary to get the complete picture of the machined part that they will be producing.   Ideally all questions from the machine shop should come out during the RFQ process.    However, it is not uncommon for the engineering team to take a deeper look at the part as they plan the production process.    For example, during the RFQ process for new customer that we recently acquired we were able to ascertain that they had mislabeled a set of drawings they had sent us to quote.   Through our examination of the part we noticed that some of the details seemed to be wrong for the stated use of the part.   We consider our discovery of this error on their drawing to be a large part of the reason we received the initial purchase order.

Another important aspect of the first job is to carefully select which parts you will be sending to the new supplier.    Looking toward a long-term relationship, it has worked well at CNC Industries for a new customer to order a variety of potential parts in the initial order.    That way we have a good feel for the potential piece-part complexities.   If you are to beging working with a new precision machine shop and send only small simple parts to them, you may find that they are not capable of handling the more complex machined parts that you want to order down the road.   Likewise if you are sending only complex parts and you want to have a single source to deal with for machined parts, you may find that the machine shop is not price competitive on simpler parts.   

As you can see from our parts profile page, CNC Industries works with a large variety of complexities and quantities on a daily basis.

– – – –

CNC Industries is a Fort Wayne, Indiana based machine shop specializing in precision CNC machining, fabrication and assembly of application-critical and custom machined parts for the Aerospace, Defense, Medical, Industrial and Transportation markets. The company presently employs approximately 55 people.

– – – –

June 1st, 2010|