Is Your Actuator System LEAN and Mean?
In the 80s, the trend of times was excess. There weren't many manufacturer's thinking about making their actuator system as efficient as possible. They mostly just churned as fast as they could. Fast-forward a few decades and the trends have shifted to a more lean approach - that is, a LEAN approach. You might think that LEAN manufacturing is a new revelation, but it goes as far back as Henry Ford. Since then, what is considered 'LEAN' has been improved upon, and manufacturers are able to ask themselves the questions that will get them real results and less waste. In terms of linear actuators, we have outlined some of the questions you can ask yourself to cut down on waste and improve organization.
1. What is the value of my current automation system?Every manufacturing system will have its own benefits and drawbacks. Every company will have their own assets depending on what they've focused on, but we're willing to bet that if you're using a hydraulic or pneumatic system - or you electric actuator system isn't working as well as it could - you could be implementing a more LEAN system.
2. How much waste does your particular company produce?
This is a standard LEAN question. When you have an excess of physical waste-material, it's easy to see what you can cut down on. Other unseen wastes, like electricity, can affect a LEAN process just as much. That waste electricity translates into costs that get passed onto the customer, and they might just their business elsewhere if they can get a better price or service. Electric systems will cut down on the amount of electricity used over the long haul. If you're using a hydraulic actuator system, what do you do with that oil when it's run its course? What if you could use a system that didn't require the use of any oil to create pressure?
3. How much time and money are you spending on maintenance?
Is your maintenance team getting a workout? When a manufacturer sees the increase in time spent on maintenance, they might want to cut down on the amount of hours spent. Instead of cutting hours, find the root cause of the problem. Other actuator systems, or even old electric actuator systems, might require more maintenance than a new one.
4. How can I make my manufacturing process simpler?
Linear actuators are a natural partner to the 5 S Philosophy because of their efficiency and few components. A portion of the philosophy is about making everything as simple as possible. The fewer the number of parts, the simpler it will be for an operator. Additionally, the system will be simpler for your regular upkeep and even troubleshooting.
Take the time to ask the right questions, and you'll no doubt come out with the right answers.