The ‘QRM at BOSCH Hinges’ day was a great success! The event organized by Sirris and the QRM 4.0 project introduced many interested people to the principles of the process improvement philosophy Quick Response Manufacturing. This method focuses on reducing the waste of time within the entire organization, and therefore ensures shorter lead times. This is because the biggest time gain is not in the processing time, but in all the steps around it. Under the inspiring leadership of Fried Kaanen, former director of BOSCH Hinges, the participants learned all about our transformation through the use of QRM. F Did you know, for example, that BOSCH Hinges was actually the first manufacturing company in Europe to embrace this process improvement method?
Flow in a production full of variation
And with great success! It enabled us to specialize more in a niche market, with complex customized work of high quality and short delivery times. It has now been 15 years since BOSCH Hinges embraced Lean Manufacturing and QRM. Besides its success, it has also been a learning challenge in which we had to overcome the necessary obstacles. And today we tried to transfer those lessons to the participants present. The central question of the day: “How do you create flow in a high-mix low-volume manufacturing environment?”
QRM as a method for responding to changing customer demand
The use of QRM enabled our company to respond even more flexibly to customer demand, which wanted products ever faster, more economically and in smaller quantities. With the implementation of QRM and a fully automated production planning and shop floor control system, we were able to specialize even more in the production of medium and small series of industrial hinges from 25 to 2500 pieces. Complex customized work of high quality with short delivery times. Our hinge makers work independently in a tidy and orderly environment.
What is QRM?
But what exactly is QRM? Whereas lean manufacturing focuses on standardized processes, for example with a one-piece flow, Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) focuses on manufacturing companies that do not have standardized production because the production orders are too varied in order size, delivery dates and different operations. Because so much variation quickly creates a lot of work in progress and ‘idle time’, this method focuses on eliminating the waste of time in the entire production process, resulting in shorter lead times and a competitive advantage. Characteristics of this process improvement method are the work cells, marked with different colors, and self-managing teams and cross-trained employees, both in production and in the office. This not only provides more flexibility, but also job satisfaction.
To improve control on the shop floor, we also chose to implement the POLCA QRM method. POLCA is a production control system that enables better control of production in a high mix/ low volume environment. The customer-specific orders can thus move with a guaranteed flow like stopping trains along the various stations. Initially this was still done with a paper card system (the original POLCA system), but after a few years we decided to digitize this system, integrated into our shop floor control system PROPOS. In doing so, we achieved a world first: the implementation of the first digital POLCA system. On the shop floor, the attendees saw this powerful system in action!
Thank you for attending!
After a successful day full of interesting lessons and questions, it was time to return home. We would like to thank all participants for their interest in this inspiring afternoon!
Want to read more about QRM at BOSCH Hinges?
As a result of our pioneering role in QRM, Quality in Business magazine wrote an inspiring article about our choice for this process improvement method. “With the changing market and open borders, we were forced to think revolutionary. In our case, the solution turned out to be right in front of us: further specializing in customization! Anyone can produce straightforward hinges on the assembly line. At that level, you can only distinguish yourself by price; the rest is unimportant. But a special hinge, exactly according to the wishes and requirements of an often demanding, exclusive client, that’s a whole different story. You have to have a lot of craftsmanship, quality, flexibility and creativity. That was the niche we had to focus on.”