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Hjerno's New Year's resolution: Reduce lead times by 30 per cent

How can we as a tool factory ensure that our clients get faster time to market while at the same time maximising cutting operations on our machines?

That is the task that our 15-man milling group has been given in the aftermath of the relocation to Hjerno's new domicile.

Briefly stated the goal is to shorten lead times by turning the traditional production planning upside down and rethinking it completely, explains managing director Aage Agergaard.

"But it is a difficult task. The result may easily be that we will have to do things in a very different way than we have done up to now," he says.

Starting with the machine, not the order
The processing of an order often starts with the milling department. So, this is the first section we will look at in our efforts to shorten the lead times.

The basic principle will be to use the machine as a starting point, as opposed to the order. That means utilizing the machine capacity to its fullest in order to get as long and efficient cutting operations as possible from the whole assembly of machinery.

Among other things by splitting each order's separate assignments into types, thereby ensuring the shortest possible changeover between the series. Additionally, each employee will no longer be operating just one machine, but will instead choose the exact machine fitted for the job.

This requires huge demands to logistics, but will ultimately pay for itself, Aage Agergaard says.

"For the clients this means a shorter lead time as well as a faster time to market due to shorter changeovers and better planning. And for us it means that we will utilize the machines more efficiently than we do today."

Greater responsibility for the employees
The plan is that the milling department will meet once a week and discuss improvements. Kristian Jessen Hansen will - as newly appointed assistant to technical manager, Per Rasmussen - play a key role when it comes to implementing the new routines.

"Our focus on shortening lead times also fits in nicely with our ambition to give each employee greater responsibility for his or her own production and, in principle, act as project manager on his or hers own orders," Aage Agergaard says.

In the long term the goal is to shorten lead times with 30 percent. And that is by no means unrealistic, he feels.

"I know it can be done, because we are already seeing great test results only a couple of weeks in."

Aage Agergaard expects the preliminary work to be completed in the course of spring.