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Several key principles of lean production. Failure apply these principles will result in failure or a lack of commitment, without commitment the process becomes ineffective.  Read the quotes below from an article written by Core77 explaining the observations from an Audi factory visit.

Principles:

  • Elimination of waste from various areas (JIT) and do it well from he beginning.
  • Minimizing inventory
  • Just in time production (to build what is required, when it is required and in the quantity required).
  • Maximizing production flow and designing for rapid production changeover
  • Kaizan – Continuous Improvement from everyone – from management to workers. Without continuous improvement your progress will cease.
  • Respect for workers or empowering workers (Humans, most reliable and valuable resource to any company)
  • Pulling production from customer demand or meeting customer requirements
  • Quality control is built into the manufacturing process
  • Creating a reliable partnership with suppliers

 

AudiFactory-Painterbots

As soon as we entered the factory floor we were surrounded on all sides by tightly organized production lines. The main factory is heavily mechanized, but robot upkeep and morale takes a good deal of staffing, and the building buzzed with both mechanical and human activity. Down each side of the access corridors were large “rooms” walled by clear plastic, where teams of robots plucked stamped parts from overhead conveyor belts or forklifted stacks and began to fit them together as teams. Parts zoomed overhead, welding crackled, and the sweet, guilty smell of glue drifted freely.

 

Due to the almost innumerable variants available on the non-American market, Audi has found it most efficient to run cars through production as they’re ordered (essentially one-off) rather than in batches. Despite their different body styles and models, most A3s, A4s and A5s are built on similar base frames, so having a responsive assembly line is still feasible.

 

Audi employs 2,400 apprentices, who range between 15 and 18 years old. Each year, 715 apprentices complete their education and start a career at Audi, and they’re replaced by 715 more; their retention rate is 100%. German apprenticeship programs (a natural outgrowth of the country’s joint vocational programs) are a requisite for finding work after school. Regularly voted one of the country’s best employers, the Audi positions are highly sought after; by their account they received 9,700 applications for the 715 openings last year.

AudiFactory-EngineProductionApprentices

 

Slowly switchbacking along six long lines of production, cars spend a maximum of 88 seconds per station, getting fitted with every part that isn’t paint. The cars float, doors removed, past each section, marked in tape on the ground, where a technician or team will rapidly install parts while moving along with the frame. Standing areas are wooden or padded for better ergonomics, and some areas feature chairs on a swinging boom arm to scoot workers in and out quickly. If a station needs assistance or falls behind, a section-specific song is played. While I was there, I heard “Ride of the Valkyries” on two occasions, and while I’m sure the Wagner leitmotif carries its own urgent associations, it was much nicer than an actual alarm. Red-belt-wearing section managers are on call to assist in production or troubleshoot, and their open booths with potted plants and coffee machines are a nice visual counterpoint to the bright lights and constantly moving metal.

AudiFactory-AssemblersErgonomicSeatThingy

 

To meet the ranging needs of each shift’s cars, stations are supplied with the requisite parts, arranged in precise order, on the hour. Small parts and electronics deliveries are made by Emma, a little robot that runs along a floor track next to the production line, who thoughtlessly almost ran over my foot. Large transmission pieces and engines are delivered to the floor via elevators, careful forklifting and tiny cranes.

 

Read more @ Core77