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Q&A with The Austin Company

In automotive, facilities, facility, interview, manufacturing, Plant Optimization, Q&A by Alicia CheungLeave a Comment

The environment facing automotive-related manufacturers is fierce. Changing regulations, competitor landscape, technology and customer preferences, along with a fluid global economy, create challenging conditions for automakers and their suppliers. The Austin Company understands this landscape. This is an excerpt from an interview Generis Group did with Brandon Davis, Vice President of Operations and General Manager at The Austin Company prior to the American Automotive Summit 2018. “How can automotive manufacturing facilities decrease project capital costs through engineering and re-design concepts? There are a few ways to look at reducing costs today, compared to how traditional automotive plants used to be designed and built. Throughout most of my career in the industry, we would build plants with what I would call ‘oversized’ structural steel. By doing this, we built in maximum flexibility for the plant, so equipment could easily move around and the plant could be easily adapted in the future, as much of the production processes were “hung loads” from the structure. As the industry has evolved, equipment has become lighter, many production processes can now be floor-mounted, and – in general – equipment has become more flexible and able to support different product types. In this setting, we are working hard in the production layout efforts to see what really needs to be supported from the structure and to design structures specifically for what is needed. That reduces the cost of the facility construction and saves the use of …

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Selecting Packaging Line Technology for Better Production Flexibility: Q&A with Gavin Millar, Senior Director, Global Packaging and Warehouse Design, Molson Coors

In interview, leadership, packaging, Plant Optimization by Cressida MurrayLeave a Comment

When operating at full capacity, the newest canning lines available to beer brewers are capable of producing over 2,000 cans per minute or about 2.5 to 3 million cans a day. Warehouses can also be fitted with cloud-based systems, which help ensure product is stored and accessible for distribution with extreme ease. Packagers know that having fast bottling equipment and more automated warehouses are all part of what drives down operating costs while increasing efficiency. However, beer markets are much more complex than 5-10 years ago when more volume was the norm. Today’s beer brewers are dealing with 10x the amount of product SKUs, less volume, and more diversity of products, not to mention a crowded marketplace with both large and craft brewers competing for attention on the shelf. The greater selection and small batches of craft beer appeal to today’s consumer and are challenging traditional ways of thinking about packaging lines. The need to improve flexibility and accuracy is key. Gavin Millar, Senior Director, Global Packaging and Warehouse Design at Molson Coors, is constantly reviewing production line costs, suppliers, and performance for areas of improvement. This role fits into a much larger World Class Supply Chain continuous improvement program at Molson Coors, in which one of the key pillars is the adoption of best-available technology and measurement and tracking of energy use. We spoke with Gavin Millar to understand how to select best-available technology and achieve packaging production and …

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Precise Engineering, Quality Construction: How World Class Facilities Get Built

In design engineering, facilities, manufacturing, Plant Location, Plant Optimization, site location by Cressida MurrayLeave a Comment

The Austin Company has been serving the manufacturing industry for over 140 years. Today, they continue to provide state-of-the-art facility and equipment design and construction solutions for manufacturers of a wide range of products, including aerospace and automotive, chemical processing, food processing, and laboratory facilities. In advance of our American Manufacturing Summit, we interviewed Matt Eddleman, a Senior Vice President at The Austin Company and asked him the following: How have manufacturing facilities evolved in recent years? What are some notable projects you have worked on over the years with The Austin Company? What was a particularly challenging project you worked on and how did The Austin Company overcome the challenges you were presented with? What do you think is unique about the way The Austin Company operates or approaches a project? What are the main goals you seek to achieve when taking on a project? How do you go about doing this? How do you align site selection and design with a client’s strategic goals? What in-house subject matter expertise does The Austin Company have and how does that help create complex facilities unique to specific industries or products? Click through to read the entire interview.

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Fog Computing and Industrial IoT

In Digital Transformation, Internet of Things, Plant Optimization, Smart Factory by Cressida MurrayLeave a Comment

The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to enable many new business models. In industrial markets, the concepts of IoT, or Industrial IoT (IIoT), are already gaining traction. At the simplest level, for example, IIoT provides the ability to more closely monitor a production line in near real time, or manage buildings and their associated plants more efficiently. IIoT also offers the ability to radically change your whole business approach. While it is easy to grasp the basic concepts behind any IIoT implementation, if you dig a little deeper there are a significant number of decisions to make in the way it will operate. For example, a cloud platform might well be able to establish trend lines on how often a motor is switched on/off to activate a conveyor belt, but does it need to rely on the cloud platform to tell it when to turn on or off? 

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Top 3 Ways IIoT Enables Business Outcomes in Manufacturing

In automation, Digital Transformation, facilities, Industry 4.0, Internet of Things, manufacturing, Plant Optimization by Cressida MurrayLeave a Comment

According to IoT solutions company relayr, the manufacturing industry, as a whole, is the least digitally advanced industry today. It is also the industry with the most to gain from the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). With shrinking margins and increasing pressure to deliver better, faster, and cheaper, manufacturers are looking for ways to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, and open up new revenue streams, none of which can be accomplished without embracing the IIoT. The key areas in which the IIoT is poised to help manufacturers achieve their target business outcomes are: Asset Services – the continual monitoring and analysis of production line and/or supply chain data points that are most influential to a manufacturing enterprise. This data can be used to trigger automated responses in the machines, alert employees, track production and inventory in real time, and even enable custom product manufacturing Predictive Maintenance – the ability to conduct “just in time” maintenance, drastically reducing costs related to unplanned downtime as well as unnecessary preventative maintenance visits for healthy equipment. Through advanced analytics and anomaly detection, predictive maintenance capabilities only grow smarter over time through AI capabilities, to continually refine and improve manufacturers’ maintenance performance. Device Management – the functionality delivered by the ability to connect, retrieve data, and take action at the device (equipment) level. This interoperability is only achievable through a solid foundation of an IIoT middleware platform, connected hardware, and a solid device management software component. …

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Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement: The Case for Change

In Continuous Improvement, culture, Plant Optimization, production efficiency, workforce by Cressida MurrayLeave a Comment

A lot has been written about how to truly implement continuous improvement processes and lean initiatives, you need to embed it in the culture of the organization. “Every company in manufacturing has to develop an operating philosophy, a standard methodology, and a language that creates a culture that focuses on continuous improvement,” Byron Greene, former VP & Head of Vehicle Assembly at FCA, explains. But how does an organization go about doing this?  Michele Calbi, former VP, Lean Transformation at Navistar, told the audience at the 2016 American Manufacturing Summit, “You have to create a case for change. It is extremely powerful. If you can drive that passion into the employees, you will see amazing things.” She shared a few stories of companies that have pulled themselves out of dire situations by creating a powerful case for change.

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The Spindle Optimization System: A Guide for Manufacturers Looking to Optimize CNC-Machine Tooling and Increase Productivity by 10 to 40%

In automotive, manufacturing, Plant Optimization, Uncategorized by Cressida MurrayLeave a Comment

CNC Manufacturers operate in competitive markets. In order to be successful in these markets, they need to control costs wherever they can. An often-overlooked area is tooling. Many do not recognize the need to adopt a Spindle Optimization System until they have experienced a catastrophic failure, higher than normal rejections, or are unable to produce parts economically. When issues surface, such as tolerancing issues, skilled machinists will make adjustments to the process without looking at possible causes. Every adjustment adds cost in terms of time and lost production. Reducing variables that impact spindle performance can extend tool life significantly and increase productivity by 10 to 40%.

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How Does Technology fit with your Lean Initiative?

In Continuous Improvement, culture, Digital Transformation, Lean Implementation, manufacturer, manufacturing, Plant Optimization by Harshini SrikanthanLeave a Comment

With rapid innovation and the proliferation of data, technology promises improvements in nearly every area of manufacturing. The implications for increased efficiency are tremendous, but our experts warn that technology will not solve all your lean problems. At our 2016 American Manufacturing Summit, we spoke to some lean leaders about how you should think of technology within the framework of your lean initiative. The consensus is that while technology can be a great complement to your lean initiatives, providing you with insights you wouldn’t otherwise have, it cannot entirely replace the human aspects of lean. Learn what they had to say on this topic. 

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