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Storage system improves die changeover.

Storage system improves die change-over

When Rowe International converted to JIT manufacturing, one of its immediate requirements was the capability to make quick die changes. As the largest full-line domestic manufacturer of vending machines and audio and video jukeboxes, the Whippany, NJ, company needed quick die changing to keep pace with the many vending products manufactured daily.

The company's solution: a one-man storage and retrieval system integrated with the stamping presses for point-of-use die storage. As a result of this installation, the average time needed to change a die dropped by 25%, several direct costs were eliminated, and more flexible manufacturing and greater machine uptime were achieved.

The need to convert to JIT manufacturing with discrete manufacturing modules, quick die changing, and employee involvement in all aspects of production stems from the numerous vending products (80 machines a day) that Rowe International manufactures.

The line includes a dozen different food and beverage vending machines, plus four money changers integrated into these units or sold to other original equipment manufacturers. At another location Rowe manufacturers laser CD jukeboxes, video jukeboxes, and reproductions of Wurlitzer 45 rpm jukeboxes.

Rowe International recently began a three-year effort involving accelerated product development, more aggressive marketing strategies, and just-in-time manufacturing designed to reduce unit costs, keep inventory down, improve floor space utilization, and increase the number of inventory turns.

In 1987 Rowe signed a five-year union contract that provides for employee involvement, joint policy committees, and a pay-for-knowledge system of wage increases. Under the new agreement, workers increase their earnings by completing work-related and personal-development courses, and Rowe has developed detailed training and education programs.

Designed to implement the changeover to JIT manufacturing, educational program elements cover JIT/Employee Involvement, Motivation and Application, Team Mission Statement, and Team Problem Solving. These custom programs are supplemented with basic instruction in blueprint reading, shop math, preventive maintenance, sheet-metal fabrication, and statistical process control. The courses give shop personnel the ability to understand and work with the new JIT environment.

Installing JIT procedures

According to Peter K Latkovich, production engineer, to assist in converting the factory to JIT manufacturing, Rowe called in Arthur Anderson to review existing manufacturing methods and equipment, study operations, and develop new procedures. Several of the consultant's recommendations were implemented in the first year, including inventory and vendor reduction.

Production is now organized into manufacturing cells. Incoming material is specified to close tolerances and is transferred from the receiving dock directly onto punch presses. All tooling (dies, templates, and fixtures) is now stored at the point of use. Work-in-process moves sequentially through the plant in progressive order of operation. Subassembly has been transferred into final assembly, and operators at each machine are responsible for inspection of parts.

"With JIT manufacturing, quick die changing became a necessity," says manufacturing vice president, John Nigro. "We could not exist today without quick-change dies." Accordingly, a team of experienced operators, industrial engineers, and production engineers devised a new system of press bolsters, subplates, hydraulic clamping, and storage of dies at the point of use. After investigating and considering various AS/RS and vertical carousel systems, the committee decided to reconfigure a standard STAK system in a straight line and incorporate stamping presses within the STAK's racking. STAK, manufactured by Stanley-Vidmar Inc, Allentown, PA, is a one-man modular storage-and-retrieval system with a captive forklift designed for heavy and bulky items weighing up to 2000 lb.

The first STAK installation at Rowe is in the coffee and soda manufacturing cell, where common parts for these two vending machines are produced. The STAK initially served four small stamping presses: two 45-ton Niagaras and two 60-ton Bliss units. About 45 dies were stored adjacent to each press, on pallets measuring 26 1/2" x 30", for a total of 185 dies. This made it possible to change dies four to eight times a day, and to reduce the average time for a die change from 45 min to 8 to 10 min.

Total cost of the installation was $35,000, which was recovered within the first 8 to 10 months of operation, according to Peter Latkovich. "We immediately eliminated the direct costs of a forklift and operator, as well as a storekeeper and die-storage room, not counting the economic benefits of machine uptime and quick change-over of dies."

In 1989, Rowe expanded the STAK installation by adding a 110-ton Bliss press to the manufacturing cell. At the same time, three bays of racks and pallets measuring 30" x 36" were installed to accommodate the larger dies. The STAK system is working so well that Rowe is equipping other JIT modules on the shop floor in the same way.

PHOTO : A standard STAK system from Stanley-Vidmar Inc was reconfigured in a straight line, and stamping presses were incorporated within the system's racking.

PHOTO : The captive forklift incorporated within the system makes it easy to remove and store heavy and bulky items weighing up to 2000 lb.

PHOTO : The STAK installation at Rowe made it possible to change dies four to eight times a day, and to reduce the average time for a die change from 45 min to 8 to 10 min. The photo shows die delivery to a press from storage.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jul 1, 1991
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