Manufacturers across America face a constant struggle to increase their efficiency and make products faster with fewer resources used. The practice of seeking continuous improvement, known as kaizen by the Japanese, is one that followers of the Toyota production system know all too well.
There are many tools that manufacturers use to save time and money on the manufacturing line, including:
- Automated Manufacturing Equipment
- New Production Processes/Practices
- Manufacturing Software
- Updated Production Tools
Just to name a few broad examples.
Each bullet point could each be expanded into its own laundry list of specific tools, such as MFDC welding robots, improved employee training, physics simulation software, and custom steel wire baskets. Yes, that’s right, wire baskets are an example of a production tool that you could update.
You might be wondering how wire baskets will save you money and/or time on the production floor. Here are a few ways that a company can improve its production process to save time and money by using a custom steel wire basket:
Reducing Basket Swapping Between Finishing Processes
Many manufacturers rely on the stock baskets that come with their production equipment to hold parts through each individual process. The problem is that many of these stock baskets are designed to only meet the minimum production requirements of the equipment they came with.
For example, say that your company’s parts finishing process involved the use of both a heat treat machine and an ultrasonic parts cleaning machine. The issue here is that the baskets that come with the ultrasonic parts cleaning machine would be optimized for long exposure to semi-corrosive liquids, not high temperatures, and the heat treat machine’s baskets would be just the opposite.
To put the same parts through both machines using stock baskets would mean switching parts from one type of basket to the next on every parts load. Even if the process only takes a minute or two, after a hundred parts loads, that’s still roughly an hour and a half to three hours of extra labor spent on just switching baskets.
This assumes that the stock baskets can even hold your particular parts in the first place.
Using a custom steel wire basket that’s been optimized for both processes helps save time by avoiding the need to swap baskets between processes. This saves production time and labor spent on each parts load you process.
Fewer Parts Rejections
Another task that consumes time, money, and materials is the reprocessing or remanufacturing of parts that have to be rejected because of damage sustained in the parts finishing process.
Unfortunately, damage to parts during the manufacturing process is all too common.
For example, during an ultrasonic parts cleaning process, the parts in the wash are subjected to intense vibrations. These vibrations can result in two parts experiencing thousands of small collisions each second. When two parts made of identical materials collide with one another, they may become scratched.
If surface condition is an issue for the part in the ultrasonic wash, such scratches can require the part to be reworked or scrapped and remade entirely.
Custom wire baskets can be designed to optimally protect parts through your finishing processes. This can be done in a few ways, including:
- Using dividers to separate parts
- Locking parts in place with custom fittings
- Adding protective shock-absorbent coatings to prevent scratches from contact with the basket
- Using a lid to keep parts from floating out of the basket
Some processes or parts might require the use of more than one of the above to adequately protect parts from damage.
By preventing damage to your delicate parts, you can reduce the number of reworks that you have to do for each parts load. This can save a considerable amount of time, labor, and materials on production.
Say you manufactured parts costing $10 each, with 100 parts in each basket load and a rejection rate of 2% because of damage. If you processed 100 loads of parts each day, that would be 200 rejected parts a day, or $2,000 of waste.
If using a custom wire basket cut your rejection rate by half, that would be an entire extra load of parts produced each day, or $1,000 saved daily. If protections built into the custom basket were enough to eliminate such rejections, that would improve your output by two loads of parts a day while eliminating $2,000 of waste.
Such a reduction in rejections could make it easier to meet production timetables and budget goals.
Other Production Efficiency Enhancements
Using custom steel wire basket designs for your production process could add a number of production efficiencies to your manufacturing line, depending on the specifics of your process.
For example, if your production process requires parts to be dried out before moving from one process to the next, a custom wire basket with extra open space to improve airflow could help you reduce the amount of time that each parts load spends drying.
Another example might be making the basket easy to handle, improving the speed and safety with which the basket (and its contents) can be moved from one process to the next. Or, a custom basket could be built for longevity, allowing you to use the same basket for years rather than having to shell out money for replacements every 6-12 months.
There are a great many ways that using a custom-built steel wire basket could help your company save time and/or money on the production line. With the right design features, a wire basket can be an effective cost-saving tool.