OTIS CASE STUDY
OTIS GETS LIFT FROM NEW AUTOMATION
Before the actual April, 2008 opening of the newest Otis production facility in Nogales Mexico, there had been close to a year of production work. Specifically, these months of work focused on production and automation planning that would enable the state-of-the-art facility to eliminate much of the manual production work even before it began.
“Our Nogales operations (three facilities in total) produce 100% of the Otis New Generation Door (NGD) products for North America,” states Jesus Valenzuela, Industrial Engineer at Otis. “This entire facility was constructed specifically for NGD production, and to justify the project, we had to ensure our costs were understood, better forecast our material needs, and continually monitor and improve our percentage of ‘off-al’ (or skeleton material).” During the planning phase in 2007, skeleton material projections were estimated at 19.2% based on 5.5 million pounds of material per year.
Skeleton material reduction wasn’t the only efficiency goal driving the new NGD facility. Managers needed to create a new level of process automation that would reduce manual programming and transferring files, and possibly reduce the number of required programmers. To reach these goals, they would need to bring in expertise beyond what they had on staff.
MULTIPLE MACHINES – SINGLE NESTING SOFTWARE
The new NGD facility would house the “deco” line (the metallic structure around the hall wall and elevator opening) and the coordinating fascia line. Equipment required included (4) Trumpf 2020 punch presses and a Cincinnati shear machine. Otis wanted to avoid the cost and time expense of implementing different software for different machines. Finding a single nesting software that addressed skeleton material efficiency for ALL machines and had the functionality they needed was important. They needed nesting software that automatically created tight, efficient nests to reduce skeleton material, could work with any of their cutting or punching machines, interface with their other business systems, and continually monitor material usage to help meet their goals. One software fit the bill.
First released in 1992, SigmaNEST nesting software is compatible with all major profile cutting and punching machines. Offered in tiered packages, SigmaNEST adapts to even the highest level of automation with advanced modules and custom enhancements added by SigmaTEK Services, the automation consulting arm of SigmaTEK providing the experienced manufacturing and engineering expertise Otis required.
“SigmaTEK had the portfolio of customers that were similar in size and customization to what we needed,” states Valenzuela. “Also, SigmaNEST provides automatic NC code for a variety of machines, and we wanted a single nesting software. And the level of experience in automation was something we didn’t have ourselves.”
AUTOMATION MEANS “ON DEMAND”
SigmaTEK Services provided the needed automation consultation, bringing years of experience working with other large manufacturing facilities that previously underwent similar automation improvements. Bruce Renfro, project manager with SigmaTEK Services, began consulting with the Otis team in 2007, collecting business requirements and process goals and then creating a plan for deployment.
“We focused on the automation side, starting with SigmaNEST and automating the CAD work that a programmer would typically handle manually before going to nesting,” states Renfro. “They wanted ‘On Demand’ functionality, where they would create the demand file in the MRP; then simply open SigmaNEST or SimTRANS (the interface tool between SigmaNEST and the MRP) - depending on which line the demand is for; and push a button. That’s it.”
Even though a great deal of thought and process planning were required, Renfro found certain aspects of the project were easier than other projects elsewhere. “We can do more functional testing when a facility is not fully operational. Also, there were no pre-set methodologies to unlearn, so change management was easier. This was truly a collective effort as we were continually in a state of efficiency and improvement before full production,” says Renfro.
The automation spanned transitioning geometry to parts and then moving part files into nesting, automatically running through various nesting algorithms to identify and select the most efficient nest. Automation continued through the NC process finally hitting the production queue to the machine with one push of a button, or one click of the mouse.
DECO LINE LAUNCH
The deco line was the first production line launched at the new facility. Fabricating the highly customized parts required four different material types and thickness (including stainless steel and brass, some of which include costly satin/mirror finishes). With using the more costly materials, keeping skeleton material to a minimum is vital on both machines, and the nesting had to be as tight as possible while maintaining the highest part quality. And with the goal of having little if any human intervention, the nesting configurations for BOTH machines had to be automatic while yielding the tightest nest. Soon after production first began, the scrap level for the deco line declined to 13 percent.
FASCIA LINE ON FAST TRACK
The fascia production line, which was not part of the initial automation launch plan, was completely new to the facility team. This line plan began (August, 2008) with outlining specifications and identifying unique requirements that varied from the deco line. A Trumpf 2020 punch press would be used to punch parts out of mild steel. With SigmaTEK Services providing the needed consultation, the additional process outline was developed and reviewed, and the launch of the fascia line was accelerated: the SigmaTEK and Otis facility teams were given a week to go live!
SigmaTEK’s Bruce Renfro installed the post that same week with modified automation employed to gain as much efficiency as feasible in the short timeframe. Training and testing were completed, and the go live of the NGD fascia line was achieved same that week! Today the skeleton material level on the fascia line has reduced 25% in just four months. “Tens of thousands of dollars can be saved with even a few percentage points decrease in skeleton levels,” emphasizes Valenzuela.
With two NGD production lines successfully launched in the new facility, future automation efforts are focused on into two areas: The first is to achieve higher levels of automation for the deco and fascia lines by merging some processes into a single process flow. The second is to implement SigmaNEST and the related automation at one of the other NGD facilities in Nogales where the NGD elevator cabinet itself is manufactured. In addition, Valenzuela mentions the ever improving scrap levels and their new expectations. “We’d like to see a material utilization greater than 95% for the entire facility.”