Black Donuts Engineering Inc. wanted to modernize the traditional Kanban boards used within their Eurl Saterex-Iris plant to electronic eKanban boards. The aim was to improve production management with the electronic boards.
Business challenge: Better overview of the production
The key challenge was how to get a better overall view of the entire production process. The legacy system included nine Kanban boards located around the production area on two different floors each needing separate and manual updating. Perceiving the overall situation on production floor was slow and troublesome.
Another challenge was lack of information on return schedule of the production cards. The Kanban boards did not give enough information to determine when needed materials were supposed to be in production. Additionally, the marking of the return time of cards into the Kanban board was not always remembered which made it difficult to notice alerts and the amount of stock left.
The solution development was initiated with Confidex partner Toptunniste based upon previous joint experience and cooperation implementing RFID technology for another tyre plant.
Real time production status with electronic eKanban boards
The development of an electronic Kanban board was done based on the pull method and manual Kanban steering. In order to view the Kanban board through data network, the traditional Kanban board needed to be updated to an electronic device. The solution was to combine the traditional Kanban board and RAIN RFID technology in a simple solution which added RFID features to the existing Kanban board. Traditional cards were replaced with Confidex RFID tags, which could be read through RFID technology.
The result was a better overall view of the production as eKanban boards could be viewed remotely from any computer in the Saterex network through a web browser.
With the eKanban solution, time markings are recorded automatically for each card when placed on eKanban board. The system counts and alerts automatically when the material amount in stock approaches the pre-defined limit.
eKanban solution optimizes production process at the tyre plant
The eKanban solution was taken into use at the Saterex tyre plant in 2019. The solution offers different levels of benefits for optimizing the production.
For operators in the production lines, the new solution does not change the way of working as operators continue to use Kanban boards.. Supervisors and factory management are able to view the production situation remotely and in real time through a web interface. The solution helps in prioritizing work and shortening reaction time to difficulties in production. eKanban also helps in planning as all production phases can be viewed simultaneously.
The eKanban solution is used only for tracking the production and not to automatically assign anything. Decisions based on received information are still made by the team while the solution helps to improve tracking and optimizing operations.
With eKanban, it is possible to track unique information on cards even though several cards with different material profiles are attached simultaneously. The eKanban solution makes returning cards more regular and adds time markings into them.
Production management in the plant complies with pull methodology with main benefit of reducing interim storage levels. The eKanban solution, which follows Lean principles, also brings additional possibilities including optimizing production with Kanban boards and better tracking of materials than traditional physical Kanban boards.