Automotive assembly plants comprise a complex dance of basic raw material, highly technical tools and human labor to produce one of civilizations’ most sophisticated engineering feats. Technology and systems analysis has dissected the process into subsystems, with various tiers of manufacturers focusing on those subsystems. However, no matter where in the process you are, you can manage the complexity by attending to its components.
Automobile assembly has come a long way since Henry Ford’s foray in the early 1900s. The process can be distilled into three aspects:
1. Inventory systems to bring raw materials to the vehicle assembly line;
2. Conveyor systems to move the car assembly down the line;
3. Robotics to execute the assembly process.
Furnish yourself with a well-organized inventory system to feed the vehicle assembly lineWhether you stock raw materials for manufacturing parts or assemble subsystems into the final auto, you must keep the supply chain lean but strong. Deciding how much stock to have on hand versus brought in just-in-time will determine the type and complexity of the inventory system you must manage in your plant.
Acquire a strong conveyor system to keep the auto assembly line from stallingOnce the parts are in place, the right conveyor systems smoothly transition the parts and subsystems from station to station, advancing the process forward from unfinished parts to final product.
Deploy robots to execute the car assembly processIn the right circumstances, robots can accomplish assembly work more accurately, more consistently and with greater safety than humans can, under conditions people would find intolerable. As materials technology advances and the overall auto assembly becomes more complex, engineers have adapted robots accordingly, now even incorporating them as part of the conveyor system.
- With the intricacy of the system, don't overlook computer hardware and software that can simplify management of your automobile assembly plant. From chips that can locate individual parts to communications software that lets robots "talk" to each other through the process, computers can automate more mundane tasks, letting you focus on fine-tuning the process, look for ways to improve or streamline the automobile assembly line and grow your share of the market.