Businesses are rarely setup in the most efficient confi […]
Businesses are rarely setup in the most efficient configuration from the very beginning. If you happen to be one of the keen and lucky few to have the foresight to do so, congratulations. If not, you might be looking for advice on how to re-organize your car assembly line in a more lean manner. While the basic principles of lean assembly floors are easily found and widely known, sometimes the logistics of mapping out floor space and employees can be difficult without some assistance.
With that in mind, here are a few tools that can help you map out and smoothly make your transition to or initial setup of a lean work-floor.
Google Sketchup: At the appealing cost of completely free, Google’s Sketchup software is ideal for drawing diagrams and models (in 3D) to represent your workspace. Say you want to create models for each machine, worker, and element in your assembly line and then move them around; that’s no problem. You can also use this software to show an object moving through the assembly setup and changing as it goes from one stage to the next. For additional functionality, an upgraded version can be purchased, but for the vast majority of cases the free version will easily meet your needs. If those needs are purely conceptualizing and determining space needs, material flow distances, etc., you will indeed be covered just fine.
Witness: If your needs are more geared toward simulation and determining outcomes of a new assembly line setup, you may be better served by something like WITNESS software by developer Lanner. WITNESS is geared toward determining the “what ifs” that occur when layout is changed, new inputs or demands are entered, and more. Unlike Sketchup, this software is not so much about visualizing (though it does generate an animate version of your work space) as it is about crunching numbers. In many cases where you’re changing your arrangements, a combination of the two types of software can be good to make sure that your bases are covered. It is also worth noting that simulation software like WITNESS is also a much more expensive investment than free services like Sketchup.