FORCAM Success Story – GKN Aerospace
This FORCAM success story at GKN Aerospace illustrates how GKN successfully improved their manufacturing productivity using FORCAM’s Advanced Shop Floor Management Technology, FORCAM FORCETM. The following describes how GKN management, stakeholders and operators are able to see production anywhere, anytime in real time. The company is now able to analyze machine data and understands current machine states. This allows for timly intervention and quality improvements.
How does an industry leading company like GKN Aerospace improve their manufacturing productivity?
GKN Aerospace, an aerospace operation of GKN plc based in the UK, is one of the world’s largest independent first tier aerospace suppliers, providing complex, high performance, high-value integrated metallic and composite assemblies for aero structures and engine products with a broad range of capabilities. GKN Aerospace Engine Systems, one of four divisions, accounted for 50% of sales in 2013. GKN Aerospace has close strategic partnerships with all the major OEMs and tier one suppliers – General Electric, Pratt & Whitney Rolls-Royce, Snecma and MTU. This Success Story features the Engine Systems division, a Low- Volume High-Mix/ Value Environment of GKN Aerospace, based in Newington Connecticut, USA.
GKN Aerospace has a reputation for investing in technological innovation, developing and applying new products that bring real and practical benefit to their customers, aircraft operators and passengers. GKN Aerospace’s capabilities have been, and continue to be, developed through constant investment and innovation. Their investment in the FORCAM‘s Advanced Shop Floor Management Technology allows GKN Aerospace to be lean and advances their capabilities to manufacture and assemble metallic engine casings and fixed structures in highest quality standards.
GKN Aerospace leads the market in the design and production of fan containment and non-containment cases in titanium, aluminium, Nickel alloy and composites.FORCAM FORCE™ is an extremely flexible and powerful tool for improving manufacturing productivity, making it incredibly easy for GKN Aerospace to achieve unprecedented improvements in production. GKN Aerospace envisions new ways to keep customers happy and intends to further increase focus on their needs.
President, Martin Thorden, says “This technology is a very good tool for continuous improvement activities; we are actually able to see the effect of the change right away and we can now measure our performance on a daily basis instantly”. “This gives us an overview of all of our equipment and how we are utilizing them”. When asked about the risk of acquiring the FORCAM FORCE™ system, Martin Thorden proclaimed:
“Strategically, the biggest risk of NOT having this FORCAM FORCE™ Technology is that we would be out performed by our competitors”.
Martin Thorden, President, GKN Aerospace Newington GKN Aerospace has had the FORCAM‘s technology in place for one year. Martin Thorden explains, “We took a moderate approach to what we should be able to achieve in this first year and I am convinced we have been able to achieve our objectives.” “Since this is a journey, we are in phase 1 while working towards hooking up to our ERP SAP in phase 2”.
In their visual lean manufacturing environment, GKN Aerospace has the FORCAM FORCE™ Technology providing a visual display that shows status information on the plant floor enabling their operators to signal line status based on color: green for normal operation, yellow when assistance is needed, and red when the line is down.This provides increased throughput efficiency, and real-time communication of plant floor status alongside information on Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE). It is fast and accurate. GKN Aerospace can instantly respond – react – and improve. With focus on continuous improvement, GKN Aerospace is able to see all production in a clear glimpse knowing in real time when lines require attention.
Sergio Moren, Director of Operations, at GKN Aerospace Newington states, “The Technology helps me react as well”. I’ve been trying to instill my management team to keep track, while using the system as they learn. They review Gantt charts and reports to see when the machines status starts and stops. This helps us be more proactive as Martin mentioned”. “We see benefits that show that we are doing better against our standard hours, which we can directly relate to using the FORCAM FORCE™. We see it in the bottom line”. During the Pilot, the FORCAM FORCE™ technology has helped us get great results, Martin Thorden states. Sergio Moren agrees, “FORCAM is important because everyone knows what to do – we all now know what we have to do. FORCAM helped to quantify and justify our course of action to get to certain levels.
GKN Aerospace has daily production meetings tracking their parts. Engineers are responsible for these parts and need to talk about improvements via their Key Performance Indicators (KPI). KPIs are metrics that facilitate achieving GKN Aerospace’s critical goals. The best manufacturing KPIs are aligned with top-level strategic goals to identify and quantify waste. According to Sergio Moren some KPI’s are:
- on time delivery
- quality notification
- toll cost
Ewelina Maselek, the Sales and Configuration Engineer mentions KPI’s to reduce lead time from about 50 days to 34 days. GKN Aerospace can now run smaller batch-sizes because the flow of production is improved. In gathering the data, “The newer machines can handle more signals so we get more accurate data. As for the older machines, we have to rely on the operator to signal or tell us”. In the beginning; it was tougher to trouble shoot signals if the machine was not operating to its full capability. The question always was is it really running 100 percent? A very painful realization.
For instance one machine, a dual ram mill turn with two controllers, was not working properly and we didn’t realize it until the operator told us that one had lost connection. There was no automated notification process in place to let us know about machine status without interaction.
There is a camaraderie between operators to provide feedback. Martin Thorden states, “Part of our success is that we have not forced the data on our operators or held them accountable, they have adopted it willingly as a tool for improvement.
Reporting and OEE
For GKN Aerospace, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a metric for monitoring and improving the efficiency of manufacturing processes at their facilities. This measures the percentage of planned production time that is truly and fully productive. Three crucial performance metrics:
Availability, Productivity, Quality.
OEE reports are usually only available to managers as a record of what happened in the past. GKN Aerospace can learn from the past but they cannot change it. Now, they can most definitely change the future by utilizing FORCAM’s Shop Floor Management Technology. Displaying OEE or related metrics in real-time enables supervisors to proactively set live targets and equips the production team to immediately see the results of their improvement efforts.
The reduction of waste by using the Shop Floor Management Technology, Ewelina Maselek describes as an example: “We used to have planned stops in our machining process in several 5-10 minutes intervals.
We are now able to condense intervals to only a few, which allows us to increase production without the operator present. The Visualization feature of the machine states enables us to see actual run times. By working with the machine operators, we understood that interruption times needed to be reduced. Through data tracking, Ewelina Maselek, is able to notice when a machine’s program is not properly updated and running for instance on an old rpm feed rate which does not reflect actual state and leads to reduced production. It is key to make sense of the data provided to take meaningful action.
Sergio Moren details, “Once we had an issue with reduced production because of a new sharpener tool we used for one of our new aluminium containment cases. We were able to spot production time differences. Through investigation with engineering we determined that a dull tool would bring much more productivity and less time for the machine to manufacture. “We are devising improvement solutions”.
“Continuous improvement is about ongoing vigilance and multiple layers that address machines, people, process and technology enhancements”, states President Martin Thorden. Focusing on reducing the time it takes to change a production process from manufacturing one part to the next enables smaller lot sizes, less inventory, and a faster response to the marketplace, reducing SMED. Sharing information with FORCAM empowers and motivates employees by aligning their efforts with the company. In summary GKN is able to:
• Show line status at a glance
• Bring immediate attention to problems
• Provide a simple and consistent mechanism for communication
• Encourage immediate reaction to quality, down time, and safety problems
• Improve accountability and responsibility
• to empower operators to take action
In Phase 2, Ms. Maselek, conveyed that data is gathered to get the FORCAM‘s Shop Floor Management Technology to integrate with GKN Aerospace’s ERP. This integration will allow GKN Aerospace to be even more exact and efficient.
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