In this case discussion we are going to discuss the Toshiba’s notebook assembly line. At this assembly line multiple laptops are produced every day with a combination of employers and robots. We will be looking at it from different ways so we can find multiple ways to enhance the efficiency of the assembly line. We have to look at it as an supply chain manager.
This means investigating it and keeping in mind the numerous aspects that the assembly line is influenced by. If we look at the assembly line in this way we will be able to spot several problems which can be solved and can result in a more efficient assembly line. The most obvious problems we spot are the number of tasks per assembly line position. Another problem is that every workstations labour time various too much. This results in several bottlenecks that has negative effects on the efficiency and production time. They differ from 5 seconds to 120 seconds. If these two problems are solved we think the assembly line will be much more efficient and thus more profitable.
The first problem we discussed is the number of tasks per assembly line. We see this as a problem because this isn’t how an assembly line should be. The essence of an assembly line is that at every station a simple task is done. Maybe two but it has to stay a simple action. This ensures a smooth flow of the production process. What you see at this assembly line is that there are three positions where one operator has to fulfil multiple tasks. This does not enhance the efficiency because the operator has to switch every time he finishes a single task. A solution for this problem is to implement more assembly line positions.
This will result in a smoother and more efficient flow of the production. In a situation like that every operator has to do only one or two tasks instead of six. This is beneficial because when you look at the production of a car for instance. If you let one employer built one entire car it will take much longer than when you use an assembly line in which multiple employers are working at that car one after the other. The solution for this problem we named is to implement more assembly line positions. This means either to hire more employers or to install more robots. There has to be investigated whether this solution is cost-effective. If the purchase of a new robot does not result in a high enough efficiency rise there has to be considered another solution.
The second problem we named is the difference in time between the workstations. The workstations vary between 5 and 120 seconds per task(s). this creates problems because when the production times are not more or less the same, bottlenecks are formed. When a situation like that occurs, production processes that do run fast, have to slow down in order to be at the same pace as the slower ones. This means that that production process is not producing at its most efficient rate. There are two ways of solving this problem. The first one is to make a proper arrangement of the different tasks. Another way is to make the labour time shorter. A way of doing this is to re-arrange the tasks. Not the sequence in which they are done but the content of the tasks itself. If you change the content you can establish a shorter labour time. Our first solution of changing the arrangement of the tasks can be combined with the very first problem.
Therefore we suggest to try the first solution first to reach an high as possible efficiency level as possible. If the goals are reached with the first solution alone you do not have to use the second solution. You can consider the second solution but if the first solution alone guarantees the wanted goals you can save money by not using the second solution. Apart from these two solutions there are multiple ways to improve your assembly line. We have chosen for these two ways because we believe these two are most worth for your money. What we mean by saying this is that for the amount of money you have to invest at first, you get the most profit of. You can for instance purchase the most modern robots and create the perfect working conditions but you have to consider the profits against the initial wages.
Our solutions can be explained with this precedence graph. Our first solution can be used very easy. Our first solution was to use more assembly line points. As you can see in this graph the last three positions are not used. On these empty spots new assembly line point can be created. In this way you can divide the different tasks over the assembly line. This results in a shorter labour time. Our second solution can also be explained with this graph. As you can see there is a very big difference between the various labour times.
If you make sure these labour times are more or less the same the flow of production will be a lot smoother and thus more efficient and quicker. This solution can be combined with the first one. If you are going to make the assembly line longer by dividing the tasks over more points you can, at the same time, make the labour times more coherent. We think that our solutions will provide a sustainable situation in which the production process runs a lot smoother and more efficient. The reason why we think our solutions are the most cost-profitable is because you can combine them. By changing one thing, you solve two things which both result in a more efficient, faster, smoother and more profitable assembly line.