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Panimpex drastically shortens lead times by improving production control

Panimpex designs and manufactures manometers. The complexity of the various order flows required a change to how production was controlled, so that production could be managed with less effort.

The production department at Panimpex in Veurne assembles manometers for refrigeration and air conditioning applications. There are many stages in the process of manufacturing a manometer. The setup times and work involved in these stages vary dramatically. To cope with these differences, it used to work with five large intermediate stocks, creating a disconnect between the various stages of production. However, the intermediate stocks led to quite long lead times. The diversity of products and the complex order flows in the factory also meant a lot of planning and coordination activities. In addition, the inefficient layout of the workplace caused a lot of unnecessary moving around. Panimpex consulted Sirris with a view to improving production flow and optimising the workplace layout.

New layout and smaller intermediate stock

Multiple improvements were made in order to improve the existing situation. The starting point for the new production flow was to reorganise production. At the same time the batch sizes were reduced from 50 units to no more than 10, so as to reduce intermediate stocks and shorten lead times. Other interventions included setting up a kanban system, introducing the self-organising principle of bucket brigades and the Toyota Kata approach. By applying this method, Panimpex was able to quickly find customised solutions to its problems and employees were empowered to themselves approach problems systematically and resolve them.

For production flow, the direct results of the interventions were improved workstation layout and a balanced distribution of work. Thanks to the new layout and the deployment of bucket brigades, the production department can process incoming orders more quickly and changes in priorities can be dealt with much more simply. The new way of working led to a smaller stock on the shop floor, freeing up quite a bit of space. The lead time for a complete manometer is now just two to four hours, instead of the four days it used to be.