Lean Manufacturing: Just in Time Is Key
Vincent Nijzink is President of EAS Change Systems, a globally active company founded 30 years ago by his father, who started developing systems that enable short changeover times. Nijzink started working for EAS in 2007 as General Manager in China, successfully starting and structuring the Asian sales network and factory. He returned to the Dutch headquarters in 2010 to take over the operational management. Last year, Nijzink succeeded his father as CEO of the global organization. Now, he is moving offices to boost sales in North and Central America and the Caribbean, taking over from preceding Vice-President Cliff Drake.
Q: What is lean manufacturing?
A: To stay competitive, production companies focus more and more on high-mix/low-volume production. This means production needs to be automated. Lean manufacturing offers smart solutions for different stages of the production process to achieve short lead times, reduce stocks and still deliver just in time.
Q: What is the role of EAS in this process?
A: EAS change systems is specialized in automation solution to speed-up changeover times.
Changeover times are an important aspect. Being able to change production from one product to the next in the shortest possible time helps reduce overall costs. The SMED method (Single Minute Exchange of Dies) is a quick and efficient method for changeover, including all activities concerned. According to his principle, a changeover should take less than ten minutes, hence the ‘single-minute.’
Q: Why not simply buy the newest machinery?
A: We see lots of production companies happy to buy a new machine when their machine efficiency is at 70 percent. Our SMED systems could help them raise that to over 90 percent, making the extra machine in many cases superfluous.
There are many factors to take into account when deciding for either option. Many companies do not even consider calculating an ROI; they find that too much trouble and assume it is too expensive. The benefits can go much further than just not having to buy an extra machine and the costs of stock can be reduced immensely. Besides that, they often forget how valuable their tools are. A mold or die can be a very expensive piece of equipment. Taking care of them can prolong their lifespan and increase the quality of the production throughout that lifespan. That last aspect is an absolute must for some industries. Apart from that, you can choose how automated you want your systems to be. Just a little or very advanced, the choice is there for you to make.
Q: What will be the future in automation?
A: In the nearby future, many more companies will be focusing on shortening lead times. Automation allows us to be competitive in production. We see tools being equipped with RIFD chips that store valuable cycle data. Control systems for the automated change systems are already being integrated in the machine control. I think we will see robots changing tools with AGV’s, self-driven change tables, bringing the right tool to the right machine at the right time. Thanks to the RFID chip, the machine recognizes the tool and automatically sets the correct parameters.
EAS change systems, a lean organization at the forefront of all developments for SMED applications in the plastics and metal industry. EAS was the first on the European market to design and sell hydraulic clamping for injection molding machines and metal presses (SMED), helping to mark the start of the use of automatic multicouplers on the European market. In addition, over the last 16 years, the first applications of magnetic clamping devices for injection molding systems were introduced by EAS and the company laid the groundwork for the use of die change carts and tables in the global market.