Responding to the standardization of automotive parts
Front line of automated assembly
With the standardization of automotive parts, came the demand for more efficient production lines
High expectations for the experience and network of a trading company.
Chukyo Industrial Zone is the largest industrial zone in Japan.
Many manufacturing industries, including the automotive and aircraft industries, are concentrated, and the domestic market share of industrial manufacturing exceeds 20%. Transportation equipment accounts for about 50% of the Japanese market. Aisan Industry Co., Ltd., which deployed an automatic assembly line for fuel-related precision parts, is a Tier 1 auto parts manufacturer of the Toyota Group. Aisan primarily handles precision parts for the fuel systems. Toyota is currently working on a global manufacturing structural reform called the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). With these reforms, the standardization of automotive parts is accelerating. Under these circumstances, it is expected to increase the production of fuel-related precision parts in Aisan. For similar components, Aisan has used semi-automatic lines. Still, a fully automatic line is necessary considering the increase in order quantity. Aisan reached out to Marubeni Techno-Systems Nagoya branch, for assistance.
Mr. Miyake, Team leader, Fuel system assembly section, Production engineering department, Aisan Industry Co., Ltd.
“When it comes to automatic lines, in addition to providing the hardware, we need to have a manufacturer that can transport the equipment. We need to work with a company that has the capability and capacity to fulfill our requirements. We asked experienced and well-networked Marubeni Techno-Systems to assist us in the vendor selection process,” states Mr. Miyake, Aisan Industry Co., Ltd.
“We selected manufacturers that had cost-competitiveness as well as technological capabilities. In particular, Aisan has a high level of technology to handle fuel-related precision parts. We tried to select a manufacturer that could respond to our demands.” says Mr. Inaba, Marubeni Techno-Systems, Nagoya Branch.
Mr. Inaba, Assistant Project Manager, Marubeni Techno-Systems, Nagoya Branch
Producing Unit #1 was extremely difficult
Automatic assembly lines assemble about 20 pieces of component precision parts. Assembling small items has its difficulty, such as parts sticking from static electricity and the deviation of the position due to the negative air pressure. Component parts vary in material, shape, and size, for example, from iron, resin, rubber, to springs. Also, a high level of precision and quality is required as before to assemble automatically.
Because the assembly line was a new product, we only had a small number of parts to use for testing. Full automatization including conveyance facilities was a challenge for us. Automating the assembly was not hard; getting the proper quality and precision was very difficult. Much of the development required trial and error to determine issues, revising equipment, to checking if individual components were defective.
Completed Unit #1
“It was difficult to clear the quality issues, and I was afraid that we would not be able to meet the delivery deadline for Unit #1. For more than a month, we were on-site with our customer trying to resolve the issues together,” says Mr. Inaba, Marubeni Techno-Systems, Nagoya Branch.
“After listing the troubles that occur almost every day, we worked with the manufacturer to resolve every issue one by one. Finally, we were able to finish the project thanks to their cooperation late into the night in spite of short lead time.” states Mr. Miyake in Aisan.
The new automated assembly line made overcoming many issues and cooperation with each other, is 2.5 times more productive than the semi-automated assembly line.
Learning from Unit #1 to make Unit #2
After the delivery of Unit #1, we received the order for Unit #2.
“After delivery of the equipment, the number of defects decreased, and production capacity increased. We decided to order Unit #2 to increase our production capacity,” says Mr. Miyake, Aisan Industry Co., Ltd.
At that time, the trend of production was greatly changing. That made the lead time for delivery much shorter.
In case of Unit #1, improvements and additions to specifications were made after delivery on-site. Unit #2 was designed to incorporate these improvements.
“I learned from the difficulties of Unit #1 that it takes time to stabilize the quality and operation of equipment. Learning from this, everyone agreed that we should shorten the manufacturing time of Unit #2, and allocate more time for testing and adjusting,” says Mr. Inaba, Marubeni Techno-Systems, Nagoya Branch.
The learnings from Unit #1 was applied to Unit #2. The delivery of Unit #2 was completed with almost no significant issues though the lead-time was much shorter.
Mr. Inaba says, “Through this project, I learned the importance of working together with our customers. At the same time, I feel that we built a strong relationship with them.”
In the automotive industry, the standardization of parts will continue to increase. Demand for both high productivity and quality will also increase.
With such market trends, the experience of delivering Unit #1 and Unit #2 is invaluable for our future business.