Airvent Fans Co., which manufactures ceiling fans for two OEM customers, Tropical and WindStar, is challenged in fulfilling the demands of its customers. Its plant, currently operating at the full capacity of 0.8 million fans annually (3200 fans/day), is looking at the possibility of improvements within current available resources to increase output in order to handle the immediate future demand, before deciding whether to outsource some of the operations in the long term. This involved thorough studies of the processes, and it was concluded that capacity enhancements were required at various stations.
To handle future projected demand that is rapidly growing, the management plans to further increase the planned capacity of the plant to suitable levels. The current layout is incapable of handling such a scale of operations and thus, the concept of lean manufacturing is applied to help restructure the plant’s layout and operations. The design and improvements required the determination of various factors. This case study identifies and estimates the various parameters needed to design such a system. Process Flow Analysis and Value Stream Mapping are used as tools to understand and identify the bottlenecks and sources of problem. Immediate demand is met by implementing batch sizes based on Economic Production Quantity (EPQ). For the long term, investments are made in machinery, the factory layout is revised for better material flow, and the assembly line operations are decoupled to achieve higher flow rate. The plant ultimately adopts a Make-to-Stock system from the earlier Made-to-Order system.
This case discusses the challenges faced in running an assembly shop floor, the importance of flow therein, and shows how the deft usage of various operations management tools can help in restoring appropriate capacity utilization and improve output. It can be taught in parallel to cases/lectures related to the Toyota Production System in the context of manufacturing excellence. The case shows how and when capacity increments should be done to meet increases in projected demand.