Nissen Chemitec America, Inc. (NCA) is a plastic injection molder in Ohio. The largest part of their business is based on building interior components for O.E. automakers.
In the past, automobile manufacturers built vehicles in large batches of very similar makes, models and color schemes. For the most part they still do.
The Challenge: Complex Supply Chain Requirements
However, some of the larger vehicle brands now build small batches of vehicles that can vary in accessories and color – all within the same batch. These small batch production runs fulfill the carmakers need to build the exact vehicle a dealer or customer has ordered within a nine day time frame. This creates very complex supply chain requirements.
In particular, for NCA, this means receiving a complex sequenced electronic order via EDI for interior parts of different versions and colors (not to mention right and left hand versions) and shipping them in the correct sequence the following day. In the industry this is known as In Line Vehicle Sequencing or ILVS.
Due to the short lead-time from receipt of the small batch order to its ship time the process had to be executed in real time and error proofed since there was no window of opportunity to recall or fix an order if a mistake was made in the kitting of the order.
Originally, NCA was printing labels in a common location and struggled with inventory management and mistakes in sequenced shipments to a major customer. These numerous issues skewed metrics and strained satisfaction with the customer’s supply chain managers.
The Approach: Production and Process Monitoring by IQMS
These requirements and challenges drove Nissen Chemitec’s leadership team to explore a comprehensive Smart Manufacturing solution several years ago.
The Results: 100% Accuracy
Now, NCA pre-builds batches of the components necessary to assemble the final parts that go into the 600 individual versions of interior assemblies their customers require. Each part is fully labeled line-side as to its nature, including a unique serial number or individual part label (IPL).
Production is monitored by IQMS Real-Time™ production and process monitoring equipment and software. The details of production such as production equipment, tooling, raw material, date / time stamp and process parameters at each operation are automatically captured and tied to each part through the individual serial number. This assures that NCA has complete traceability for each individual part.
Upon receipt of a small batch order, machine-readable pick tickets are produced. The item pick slip listing is scanned and then the parts that fulfill that demand are assembled, packed and scanned. The process can only proceed if is there is a complete match between the order, the part and carton slot where the part is placed. This process error proofs the picking, sequencing and packing process.
Now all the production processes rely on a series of fully instrumented work cells to schedule, monitor and track:
- 28 injection-molding machines
- 10 assembly lines
- 3 packaging stations
NCA produces 1.4 million of these part types per month, 42,000 of which flow through the small batch ILVS system.
As a result NCA’s small batch production line went from being ‘problematic’ to achieving 100% accuracy.
Mistakes of part version, color, right or left hand and sequencing were eliminated. The system is so effective that NCA can now inject a small batch product order into the large batch production process at any point in time it is requested by the O.E. NCA is now a best in class service provider.