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.
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.
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.
The equivalent estimated time to generate and maintain production documentation for the 570 variants is likely to fall to around 5.1 man years of work over a ten year product life.
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.