Lean Manufacturing Equals Value

Sept. 20, 2009
Italian manufacturers who pursue efficiency through streamlined production processes and energy savings pass value on to customers through lowered costs and timely deliveries.

Forward-looking manufacturers around the world have adopted segments of lean practices. These companies consider an expenditure of resources for any goal other than creation of value for the end user to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination.  From a customer perspective, value is any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for. Lean attempts to create more value with less work. Efficiency through the optimization of workflow is a theme throughout quality-driven Italian manufacturing facilities.

According to U.S.-based analyst Julie Fraser of Cambashi Inc., a management and marketing consultancy firm (www.cambashi.com), “Machinery and equipment has two major facets to consider for the customers. First is revenue-generating capacity and capability.  Now at this point with the volatile economy, flexibility and quick change-overs are probably more important than pure throughput for some segments. However, machines are valued based on ability to generate revenue, remembering that revenue right now is both products and the information required to meet environmental regulations for the producers.  And second is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) which might be commonly associated with lean—how to get value from something that has little waste. Managing costs is critical in this economy—think lean.”

A philosophy of lean
OMT BIELLA S.r.l. (www.omt-biella.com) pays close attention to its internal production system in order to supply its customers with products that meet the highest standards of quality and delivery.

Since 1963, the family-run business has designed, built and sold machines and systems used in the opening and blending of textile fibers.  All the machines can be linked to create specific systems. Complete solutions are developed to design and build complex and very large systems. Customers, spread across five continents, are characterized by the company as seekers of high-quality machinery, generally demanding and never satisfied with run-of-the-mill equipment.

The production philosophy values the lean manufacturing model, characterized by tools aimed at achieving a pull system in production management. (“Pull” in lean production is a response to the pull, or demand, of the customer.) Concurring with the belief that a reduction of waste leads to an increase in profits, OMT BIELLA embraces lean.

Among their methods is an in-house self-governing laser cutting system that operates on a 24/7 capacity. Operation is also for third parties. It allows OMT BIELLA to obtain, in very short time periods, all the carpentry work necessary for machines designed and constructed according to its technical drawings.

Collaboration and harmony among employees (credited to knowledge-sharing), and the effort made by each employee to maintain a clean, efficient workplace, adhering to the 5S method, represents the best way to prevent errors.

The workplace organization method 5S uses a list of five Japanese words which, transliterated and translated into English, start with the letter S—a mnemonic for a methodology often incorrectly characterized as “standardized cleanup.” But it is more than cleanup. 5S is a philosophy and way of organizing and managing workspace to improve efficiency by eliminating waste, improving flow and reducing process unevenness.

According to the Japanese interpretation, this is a poka-yoke or foolproof approach. The term means fail-safing or mistake-proofing. Poka-yoke is any mechanism in a lean manufacturing process that helps an operator to avoid (yokeru) mistakes (poka). Its purpose is to eliminate defects by preventing, correcting, or drawing attention to human errors.

During the worldwide economic crisis, it is not easy to level the work load of the production cell (Heijunka), but following guidelines of Kaizen (improvement), OMT BIELLA intends to equip its laser-cutting department with a robot to provide new energy to its already-successful Takt Time system (Takt is the German word for the baton that an orchestra conductor uses to regulate the speed, beat or timing at which musicians play).

Italian machine tool technology equates to lower costs

According to UCIMU-SISEMI PER PRODURRE (www.ucimu.it), the Italian Machine Tools, Robots and Automation Manufacturers’ Association, American users are well aware of the high quality of Italian machine tools. The Association reports that from 2003 to 2008, the number of Italian machine tools exported to the U.S. increased by 44 percent.

The question comes to mind: Are manufacturers becoming more aware of the impact that new machinery technology has on the cost of their products?

Fast-growing ILAPAK Group S.p.A. (www.ilapak.com) manufactures industrial wrapping machinery for primary packaging and specializes in high-quality packaging machinery produced in Nova Milanese and Arezzo, Italy, as well as Lugano, Switzerland.

ILAPAK solutions minimize food manufacturers’ cost-per-pack, whatever the style and level of pack presentation. The company’s emphasis on innovative technology and equipment, great service, low energy and material consumption leads to this goal.

Lean manufacturing, more than just a set of guidelines, becomes the workplace lifestyle in outstanding plants. ILAPAK puts energy-saving features into its machines—greater thermal efficiency of sealing jaws and rollers and energy recuperation systems in motor drives.

Reliability is built in through use of high-quality, commercially available electronic components, a user-friendly HMI to minimize operator error, a control platform capable of web connection to allow remote monitoring and software to predict component failures.

“In the business world it’s the results that count,” says Luciano Sottile, CEO of ILAPAK Group. “ILAPAK only has a future if we can add value to our customers and help them to be successful. Our philosophy of lowest cost per pack encompasses a consistent approach that we are taking to our products, services and organization which has one single objective—to improve the bottom line of our customers’ Profit and Loss accounts.”

50 percent more throughput

The new Delta VacMap flow-wrapper from ILAPAK lets manufacturers produce attractive, high-quality flow-wrap packs that provide the same shelf life as thermoformed packs at lower cost. Usable with all bakery and fresh food products, the patented unit has a 3-in-1 packaging solution—flow-wrap, modified atmosphere (MAP) and VacMap—in one efficient machine to substantially reduce production costs.
The high-performance, horizontal, form, fill and seal (HFFS) flow-wrapper puts vacuum and MAP packaging into one machine. In-line vacuum systems extract trapped pockets of oxygen from inside the product, particularly spongy bakery goods, to maintain freshness.
This results in a comparable shelf-life to thermoforming but it’s more economical and efficient. Features include high throughput, fast product size changes, ease of use, reduced material and labor costs, fully automatic feeding and high-quality pack presentation.  Manufacturers easily switch formats; if requirements change from an ambient product to a one requiring greater shelf life, they can quickly meet that demand and maintain full capacity.

Automatic product feeding means reduced labor. Changeovers are so quick that line disruption is minimal. VacMap achieves up to 50 percent greater throughput than typical thermoforming machines and reduces the cost of packaging material. For higher volume manufacturers, there are enormous financial and environmental benefits.

ILAPAK provides ultrasonic sealing technology on form fill and seal packaging machinery. This results in a molecular bond between thermoplastic materials created by mechanically-generated acoustic waves of specific amplitude and frequency.

Tangible benefits in flexible packaging are improved seal quality, lower energy consumption and reduced down-time, as well as a reduction in product waste.

Saving time, eliminating waste, meeting deadlines and streamlining across the enterprise comprises lean philosophy. As supported by Italian manufacturers, lean concepts change the face of modern manufacturing and create successful businesses. 

Cambashi Inc.



ILAPAK Group S.p.A.

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