As custom wire manufacturers we often manufacture small runs (100, 200, 500) of prototype products. Manufacturing quality is and always will be our number one goal. Often times we come to a cross road trying to determine what is the fastest cycle time that we can achieve while keeping quality constant. When we are only creating 100 products, there is little reason to run cycle time trials since the production size is so small. To run a cycle time test, you need to check every part after you are done. You then need to check every product for a series until you are confident that the speed will not affect products over the long run.
This post was meant to spark more questions than solve. I wanted to discuss our process. If you have your own process methodology, we would love to hear it. Please email any discussion pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org. We recently had a job which took us 4 minutes per piece when we started out. By the time we were done, we could create the same product in less than 1 minute. This was a larger 20,000 piece order. We did time tests out of necessity.
Cycle Time Test Considerations
- Initial Quality Check
- Repeat-ability of Cycle Time and Quality
- Does the Wheel Wear Faster?
- What is the Optimal Speed Adjustment Size?
- Should we manufacture faster but grind the wire multiple times?
The optimal speed adjustment size is the biggest factor to test. At Modern Grinding, we time test by speeding up the cycle time 6% each time for the first ten cycles. We then take all of the finished products and measure them against each other to make sure that they are all in spec and they are no material changes in shape or sharpness.
To date, we have only run this type of trial once and it was for a 20,000 piece order. I believe that having a standardized process could help shave large amounts of time off of manufacturing. We are interested to hear if you have tried a similar process and if you have any suggestions.