PRODUCTION PLANNING: SIMPLE IS BEAUTIFUL

Effective and loss-free production is no longer a competitive factor, but something which makes it possible to “stay in the game”. This is how Juli-Ann Rikkonen, FSP development engineer, describes the general trends of the industry.

Because manufacturing processes are continuously becoming more effective, the lead times get shorter and the production volumes increase. One of Juli-Ann Rikkonen’s key tasks at FSP is to make development visits into the company’s paint shops.

“The development visits are primarily focused onto the facilities where it’s clear that there is room for improvement in operation and productiveness or help is otherwise needed with production. Sometimes it is a so-called positive problem: for instance the production volume can grow drastically and the facility and its staff must then know how to react accordingly,” Rikkonen explains.

Area managers Miikka Kuutilo and Lauri Pasola together with COO Jarno Huttunen act according to the situation and if needed together with the client, which of the units will become the next development visit site.

“The development period is not strictly timed or scheduled beforehand, because every workplace is different and the amount of work between units varies.”

 

Strengths and challenges made visible

Unit operation development is also being conducted, depending on the situation, in several facilities at the same time. In March Rikkonen worked in Finland in the Raisio and Kaarina units, before that she worked with the Savonlinna, Finland, and Poland units.

The Savonlinna unit does surface treatments mostly for Savonlinna Works Oy manufactured chemical pulp industry products and steel structures. The components are pretreated with acid pickling or shot blasting. FSP also does over- and touch-up painting after assembly as well as packaging.

Savonlinna Works, owned by Andritz Oy, designs and manufactures heavy duty DD-washers, filters, sifters and pressure tanks. The development visit brought to light both strengths as well as challenges.

 

An idea filled atmosphere, away with the useless

“The communication between the client and FSP was seamless and continuous, as for instance the weekly production meetings show. The atmosphere was open for development and the staff flexible. On top of that the employees and the supervisors gave a lot of development ideas and notes regarding problem points,” Rikkonen lists the successes.

Production is made more efficient regardless of unit as far as possible. At the same time FSP’s Engineering-unit is continuously searching for new technology applications and process solutions, which will provide a competitive edge in the form of quicker lead time.

Juli-Ann Rikkonen bases her evaluation on the Lean-philosophy, which focuses on the principle of getting rid of actions which don’t add to value, in other words preventing loss. Lean identifies eight different losses, for instance needless waiting around between working phases as well as needless processing, which are for instance the result of mistakes.

 

Prediction raises productivity

“I also do production simulation and optimizing. The purpose of the simulation is to determine the capacity, production bottle-necks as well as the utilization rate of workstations.”

“After that we will begin to think, among other things, on how resources such as machines, equipment, premises and staff can be made use of in the best possible way and how to minimize set-up times. Production simulation can be used to develop already existing operations and to support the start of new operations.”

During the development period in Savonlinna it became apparent, that there was also room for improvement in some areas of operation.

“Productivity can be enhanced through being able to efficiently predict future production. Prediction will facilitate efficient planning of production and resources. The production process itself can also be simplified and clarified – we noted redundant intermediate phases, which take time. And there is never too much open dialogue between client and supplier,” Rikkonen says.

 

Work safety and productivity go hand in hand

The FSP paint shops are all individuals, but they also have common characteristics. In many facilities quality and productivity are excellent. On the other hand the common challenge is the fact that as surface treatment is situated at the end of the whole manufacturing process, so the problems and delays of the previous production phases multiply towards the end.

“It’s important to me that the staff in the units understands that we are all part of the same team and together we’ll make our operations better. The reception in the units has been exceptionally positive and open.

Enhanced production also demands more than before from work safety.

“Everything begins from trust. Employees do not stint on safety and they must always make sure that their working conditions are safe and report on any deficiencies. The supervisors will be responsible for fixing the noted problems immediately and ensure that all suggestions for development will be reacted to quickly. Thus the trust in other people’s actions will increase during practical work and will become a habit that isn’t deviated from.”

Working safety is one of Rikkonen’s core responsibilities. She was appointed the new health and safety manager of FSP in early March. The job description includes the following strategic goals: supporting and developing the workplace safety work in co-operation with the whole organisation, taking part in the health and safety committee both co-operating with the occupational health and safety authority.

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