Advantages of Cellular Manufacturing

Manufacturing cells are used to minimize product movement as well as materials, equipment and labor during the manufacturing process. By reducing cycle times and material handling, these cells help shops more easily meet customer demands regarding cost, quality and leadtimes.

A manufacturing cell brings together all of the elements needed to produce a part in one central location. It typically consists of the machine tools and tooling as well as any automation elements and supplies and the personnel who will oversee the process. Cells are used to minimize product movement as well as materials, equipment and labor during the manufacturing process. Because everything is close at hand, operators do not need to move to other areas of the shop floor to transport parts for additional processing or to retrieve supplies. By reducing cycle times and material handling, a shop can more easily meet customer demands regarding cost, quality and leadtimes.

For a feature article in PM’s November issue, Chris Koepfer visited Toolcraft, an Indiana shop that made the leap from manual machining and basic CNC technology to a sophisticated turning cell. The cell has two Okuma turning centers that are fed by a FANUC M10 robot. The cell can be tooled for almost any job the company produces and has had a huge impact on daily production volumes. Read “Taking a Big Step” for more information.

Setting up the automation in a cell can sometimes present some workholding/workhandling challenges. “Handling Parts in a Robotic Cell” provides a few examples of efficient part handling and ideas for getting the most from a manufacturing cell.