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Racal Acoustics

Racal Acoustics is a manufacturer of specialist acoustic ancillary equipment, mainly for military and emergency service markets. Established in the early 1950s, they also manufacture for the commercial markets, mainly dealing with the aviation sector.

Problem

Racal acoustics was struggling with the maintenance of over 13,100 pages of Manufacturing Instructions and coping with the manufacturing problems that errors and omissions created.

Racal provides a range of unique products with over 570 product variants (each averaging 23 operations) needing to be documented. Their previous manufacturing instructions were generated using desktop publishing software with line drawings and pictures inserted. Operators would print these at printer terminals around the company.

The estimated time to generate and maintain production documentation for the 570 variants was more than eight-man years of work over a 10-year product life.

They had to interface with many different systems, each interface had to be tailored mechanically and electrically to suit each customer’s needs. Racal also had issues with assembly variation within the same product family, response times for Work Instruction updates, and increased learning time taken by operators due to inconsistency.

Solution

NoMuda’s experience with implementing mass customization helped in developing a new, leaner approach.

For each of the 13 main product families, a master set of assembly operations have been generated. Each set of assembly operations now covers all assembly processes required to build any one of the product variants.

There have been significant improvements in the configuration and issue control of manufacturing instructions. VisualFactory keeps track of the issue number of individual tasks within an operation. Each route has a version number, as well as a drawing issue number. Racal can now track any change in assembly procedure, down to operation level.

Benefit
  • The number of Work Instruction pages have fallen from 13,100 pages to 1,200 pages, representing a total saving of 90%.
  • Time to generate and maintain documentation for the 570 variants has fallen by almost three man-years of labour in a 10-year product life.
  • A 90% fall in the volume of data required to be stored on network servers.
  • A reduction in the number of different packages being used.
  • A reduction in the learning time required by assembly staff.
  • Fewer opportunities for engineering updates to be missed out of Work Instructions.
  • Subcontracting assembly partners can now access Racal’s work instructions, avoiding costly document preparation and administration on-site at Racal.