Lean manufacturing has become a way of life at Atlas Copco. The Swediesh manufacturer has taken the principles and applied them into action, helping to reduce costs, improve performance, and in the process, increase quality.
For Atlas, the days of readily accessible components are coming to an end. Instead of having materials preassembled on the line, Atlas Copco will only bring out the components the operator needs for the machine they are working on. Their new assembly lines are completely redesigned to compliment the lean methodology.
“Lean manufacturing is about the elimination of waste,” said Joris Derde, process engineer. “We concentrate on the tasks that add value to the product. We eliminate all other tasks that are not giving added value.”
Other aspects of lean include: carriers on wheels, handheld modern electrical tools to ensure the perfect amount of torque and necessary screws are used, and even a barcode-based traceability system to guarantee the right components are stored in each unit.
According to Derde, quality is the first concern for Atlas Copco.
“By implementing the principles of lean manufacturing, we reduced the total amount of components; we reduced the working time and by doing so we we’re able to reduce the amount of work stations. And we were even able to improve the quality. So it was a win-win situation.”
With the help of lean manufacturing, Atlas Copco has been able to increase on-time delivery by 15 percent, as well as improving overall quality by 11 percent. The benefits of lean manufacturing have spawned other innovative ideas.
In Wilrijk, Belgium, Atlas Copco built a new production line utilizing sustainable design and state-of-the-art production processes. According to Atlas, the facility was built in line with LEED best practices.
“The factory was built in accordance with Atlas Copco’s globally accepted Sustainable Building Standard and in line with LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) best practices has lately been certified by IGBC (Indian Green Building Council) as a GOLD rated Green Factory Building. Extra attention was given to energy-efficient design and technology to limit environmental impact and to reduce the use of energy and natural resources during the construction phase, as well as future plant operation. The project could get maximum credit points for its rainwater harvesting system. The system ensures that no rainwater will run off site during a monsoon but instead get collected in a natural pool. The collected rainwater will supplement local groundwater during dry periods.”
Before lean manufacturing
After lean manufacturing