Identification of Approaches to Increase Responsiveness for Selected Production Units at the ANDREAS STIHL AG & Co. KG

Huesmann, Tim (2011) Identification of Approaches to Increase Responsiveness for Selected Production Units at the ANDREAS STIHL AG & Co. KG. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)] (Unpublished)

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Being responsive towards any kind of changes in the market place or unforeseen disruptions of the production process is an ability the majority of manufacturing firms in industry probably would like to claim for their organisation. Facing the situation of customers demanding an increasing variety of products and hence lower production volumes per model, the current mass production approaches at ANDREAS STIHL AG & Co. KG only result in a limited degree of responsiveness. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is the analysis of three selected production units with regard to responsiveness in order to deduce best practices and develop approaches for optimisation in a final step of the analysis.

As a first step, the concept of flexibility in manufacturing and responsiveness is reviewed on the basis of both current and former contributions in literature. After relating the debate of responsiveness to central aspects of the lean approach as a counterpart to mass production, these academic contributions are used as a starting point for the definition of responsiveness which is adapted to prevailing characteristics of the production at ANDREAS STIHL AG & Co. KG. A set of factors determining responsiveness is identified, while specific time-related factors are applied to visualise responsiveness and quantify it for single products. The evaluation of different perspectives on production lead time for selected product families can be viewed as an essential step of the analysis of the considered production units. A concluding comparison of these perspectives per production unit is the last stage of the analysis, before existing best practices and further approaches for optimisation are inferred.

Key findings of the examination are that different production units at STIHL differ considerably regarding responsiveness-related prerequisites and existing capabilities. Differences regarding responsiveness can not only be identified between entire production units, but also between single product families within each unit. According to the introduced definition, responsiveness of a selected product in each unit ranges from eleven to twenty weeks. Moreover, the value stream analysis which was conducted as part of the investigation of production lead times highlights several problematic aspects of the production process. Although individual challenging factors can be observed for each production unit, the nature of problematic aspects in all production facilities is similar to a certain extent and is not solely limited to coordination issues of the production control.

Identified best practices with regard to responsiveness and a stabilisation as well as a reduction of production lead times can essentially be related to issues such as material flow and clear rules on the shop floor. The latter refer to material handling, a controlled use of buffers between processes, or the defined placement of goods on the shop floor. In addition to optimisation approaches aiming to improve these general aspects, advanced optimisation approaches are mainly production unit-specific. In the end, the most important factors which have to be taken into account for further improvements of responsiveness at ANDREAS STIHL AG & Co. KG are a flow orientation and clear rules on the shop floor, lot sizes and setup times, as well as disposition aspects related to the replenishment of purchased parts.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2012 10:09
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2018 12:30

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