Like all areas of automotive manufacturing, powertrain assembly plants must respond to the demands of multi-model production, rapidly changing technologies and fluctuating capacity demands.
Indeed, the more quickly a powertrain plant can rectify bottlenecks on the line – or changeover from one model to the next – the more profitable it will be.
In any assembly operation, the key to optimal performance depends on the efficient distribution of automated and manual workstation tasks. Ideally, each task flows seamlessly to the next – with no operators idle or overtaxed at any point in the process.
But on powertrain lines that can extend a quarter mile and include 150-250 discrete operations, achieving an optimal workload balance can be a challenge.
Identifying the Bottleneck
A variety of factors can cause even a well-designed line to become imbalanced. For example, changing line speed or customer demands on daily output – or switching model years – can impact workstations in disproportionate ways.