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US Army/Textron Lycoming complete plant modernizations.

US Army/Textron Lycoming complete plant modernization In 1981, Textron Lycoming, in partnership with the US Army, began the revolutionary plant-modernization program to transform the Stratford Army Engine Plant, an anti-quated, 1.5-million-sq-ft, 1950s-vintage, job-shop-manufacturing environment, into one of the most completely modernized, automated, and efficient turbine-engine-manufacturing facilities in the country. The multi-year-phased, joint investment program continued through the 1980s under the direction of Textron Lycoming's Industrial Resource Enhancement Program (IREP) Office and the Army Aviation Systems Command's (AVSCOM) Facilities and Technology Production Engineering Group.

Under this joint direction, every aspect of design, manufacturing, and assembly was carefully analyzed to establish a baseline of current operations, against which future improvements could be implemented and measured. Based on these analyses, a conceptual design incorporating totally new concepts for integrating manufacturing and information systems technology was created.

"The new manufacturing technologies, processes, and methods that we developed and implemented during the last eight years enabled us to achieve what is perhaps the most totally modernized, dock-to-dock computer-integrated-manufacturing facilities in the country," says Doug Mears, Textron Lycoming's IREP program director. "By integrating our proven technology with the new, and by automating only those areas where automation would improve the entire operation, our parts now travel much shorter distances, share fewer machines, and require minimal movement throughout the plant. This has enabled us to greatly reduce our work in process, lower our material-handling costs, and lessen our capital investment."

As an example, before the implementation phase of the program, the shop floor was laid out like a job shop according to machine type and function; a part could move as many as 22 times within the plant from receiving to finished stores.

Today, the plant has been organized into a series of self-contained mini-factories using group-technology principles for the machining of similar engine components in appropriate manufacturing centers under rotational, housing, and subassembly manufacturing groups. As a result, the movement of parts and components within the plant has been reduced to as few as six, and the number of machine tools has decreased from 1200 to 800. In addition, integrated computer-controlled AGVs now transport materials along floor-embedded guide paths from machine to machine during all facets of manufacturing.

The use of computer integrated manufacturing systems has tied almost all phases of production, engineering, tooling, manufacturing, receiving, inventory, shipping, and billing together into a completely balanced and well-organized manufacturing unit. "Information systems provide the nerves of the factory," Mears adds. Major portions of the information systems included a master planning and control system, a tool-inventory-management system, and an integrated systems architecture that directs the total systems effort.

These and other improvements implemented under the modernization program have reduced the company's total manufacturing costs by a significant amount, cut its machine-tool inventory in half, reduced scrap and rework by 85 percent, reduced inventory time dock-to-dock from 25 days to about 5 days, and saved the US Army more than $30 million annually on the purchase of engines for the M1/M1A1 main battle tank alone--all without impacting engine manufacturing, assembly, or delivery schedules.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:computer integration of Stratford Army Engine Plant
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jul 1, 1989
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