CHENNAI, India — To ensure production of the award-winning Ford Figo keeps pace with growing customer demand, a natural work group (NWG) team on the Trim, Chassis and Final (TCF) assembly line in Chennai has used ingenuity and a drive to “Go Further” to increase jobs per hour from 31 to 37.
The team, headed by B. Duraisingh, realigned the system to increase Automatic Guided Vehicle availability and reduce idle time on the TCF sub-assembly and main lines, eliminating the need to acquire additional AGVs – leading to a cost saving of INR 1.3 Crore (USD 260,000).
The AGVs work on the main line and sub-assembly in TCF, mating the engine and rear axle to the body of a car. Moving in a pre-programmed elliptical track, the vehicles carry the engines and axles to the line operators who in turn fit additional parts or fill oil to keep them ready for mating.
In 2010, the team noticed that additional demand for Ford India’s best-selling Figo was increasing pressure on the shops to produce and supply more cars. The supplier recommended adding one more AGV to limit downtime – which was calculated at 117 minutes per month, or 83 cars -- but that would have involved an additional cost of INR 1.3 Crore.
Instead, Duraisingh and team members like L.Thiagarajan, production associates P. Vardarajan and A. Sonaimuthu, maintenance associate Ford Total Productive Maintenance (FTPM) spent many hours studying the problem of bridging the gap between increased jobs per hour demand and AGV availability. Part of the solution was to change the AGV movement layout on the main line by extending the area by 15 metres on both sides, extending the working platform by 3.5 metres and creating one station for fitting the tubular exhaust.
“By carefully studying each of the processes involved in AGV operation and decking, we were able to do a time-study analysis and zero down eight critical factors that, when addressed, could improve uptime,” said Thiagarjan.
“We then tried to carry out specific improvements in all these eight areas that added up to improved AGV availability,” said Duraisingh.
By carrying out modifications such as changing rear-axle lifter movement from manual to automatic, changing the sensor distance to remove idle time in the AGVs before decking, and increasing the speed of the AGVs, the team was able to save precious seconds that increased uptime. Simple modifications like changing the adapter tip for oil filling saved as much as 35 seconds.
“All these improvements added up to increased uptime and reduced idle time in the process. In the end, we were able to increase AGV availability to 232 seconds and limit process time to 228 seconds, thereby achieving 37 net jobs per hour as was needed,” said Duraisingh.
“A lot of thinking has gone into these improvements. With the NWG activities, the team has cracked the bottlenecks by effectively allocating jobs in the AGVs station and optimized it’s running,” said P. Senthil Kumar, vice president of Vehicle Operations, Ford India. “Congrats to the TCF NWG team for achieving this remarkable feat by going further in their duty and enhancing productivity.”
An Automatic Guided Vehicle on the shopfloor.