Fabrication is the act of taking stock material and turning it into a part for use in an assembly process. There are many different types of fabrication processes. The most common are
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The are many other types of fabrication that are less common than the ones in the list above. There are also constantly new types of fabrication methods being developed.
One such new type is called additive technology. It is really something like a cross between fabrication and injection molding. In effect, a machine layers materials to form a part-something like a three dimensional printer that prints in plastic.
Fabrication processes are particularly well matched to Lean. The motion of operators, their interaction with machines, and the need to manage inventory are all right in Lean’s power alley.
Fabrication processes are particularly well suited to implementing jidoka (autonomation) and hanedashi devices (autoejectors). Both of those devices are prerequisites of the chaku-chaku line (load-load).
But there is one area where Lean can struggle. Some extremely large machines are well matched to the products they are making. But far too many big machines with too long of a changeover time drive up inventory and promote overproduction. It is best to ‘right-size’ machines and put them into work cells if possible. That helps create flow.
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