The Oldham shaft coupling is one of the most successful products manufactured at the Huco Dynatork factory in Hertford and is sold worldwide. However, the extensive product range and widely varying order volumes emphasise the importance of a production regime that is both flexible and able to minimise lead time. Huco Dynatork has used value stream mapping to identify an appropriate development path that will see Oldham lead times plummet from weeks to days.
An early aim of the mapping exercise was to identify time or material waste and excessive inventory; it soon became clear that a major contributor to lead time was product queuing at every stage of manufacture. Although only a snapshot in time, initial analysis set a typical lead time for a non-stocked item at an unacceptable 27 working days.
Huco Dynatork had already taken some steps to iron out the production queuing by holding a large stock of pilot-bored Oldham couplings. The problem was that market demand required such a huge inventory and that was certainly not producing a good return on capital.
Joint Managing Director David Lockett comments: “An inventory-based system can only be as good as your forecast. The scope of choice we offer our customers means we will never be able to forecast accurately every item, so we have focused our attention on creating greater production flexibility.”
With its target to reduce inventory, Huco Dynatork has therefore invested in new quick set-up machine tools that will form a dedicated production cell for Oldham couplings. In the coming months this will comprise four CNC turning centres and two CNC vertical milling centres.
Lower lead time
Before committing to the purchase of this capital equipment the company undertook future state value stream mapping - an exercise that assumed the mix and manufacturing volume of the product remain unchanged. The analysis was astounding, with the plan showing a substantial reduction in inventory and the typical lead time for a non-stocked Oldham coupling down to just five days.
Lockett states: “We would have been happy with ten days but this is a great outcome. The re-organisation will put us in phase with customer demand and enable us to achieve the twin goals of improving customer service and reducing inventory.”
The machine tools are currently being installed and cellular production will be introduced in two phases. First will be for sizes 25-57mm Oldham hubs, followed by the smaller versions.
For more information about Huco's Oldham couplings, go to www.huco.com/products.asp?cat=57.