Cell production - examples and illustrations
Modern car assembly - the modern assembly line
At first glance, a modern car assembly line looks similar to the old 'Henry Ford' production process. However, deeper examination will reveal significant differences. Although individual tasks are small and relatively simple, the production line is now made up of a series of consecutive work 'cells', which have:
- A team of workers
- A supervisory responsibility
- A quality responsibility
- A process/product quality improvement responsibility
The team, or cell, decides who does what within the team. It decides how jobs will be rotated to relieve boredom, or to ensure the relevant specialist is available for certain tasks. The cell works as a team, not a number of individuals.
Each cell will pass a 'product' onto the next cell in the line and is responsible for seeking improvements in processes and quality. Cells normally operate as quality circles, which we examine later in this topic. It is almost certain that just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing will be in place.
The purpose of using cells and JIT production is to combine the advantages of a tailor-made, individual car of high quality - produced by job production - with the benefit of mass production savings. When consumers go to a dealer and place an order, a personal code/reference number and production slot is allocated at the same time. In other words the vehicle is made-to-order, but not using job production. These changes mean that car prices, in real terms, have fallen and fallen, but quality has steadily improved.
Read about the assembly process at Nihon Kohden, Japan's leading maker of EEG, patient monitors, AED, and medical electronic equipment, describing its use of cell production and quality assurance.
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