cellular manufacturing

Definition

A lean method of producing similar products using cells, or groups of team members, workstations, or equipment, to facilitate operations by eliminating setup and unneeded costs between operations. Cells might be designed for a specific process, part, or a complete product. They are favorable for single-piece and one-touch production methods and in the office or the factory. Because of increased speed and the minimal handling of materials, cells can result in great cost and time savings and reduced inventory.

Cellular design often uses group technology, which studies a large number of components and separates them into groups with like characteristics, sometimes with a computer's help, and which requires the coding of classifications of parts and operations. Cellular design also uses families-of-parts processing, which groups components by shape and size to be manufactured by the same people, tools, and machines with little change to process or setup.

Regardless of the cell design (straight line, u-shape, or other), the equipment in the cell are placed very near one another to save space and time. The handling of materials can be by hand, conveyor, or robot. A cell supervisory computer must used to control movement between equipment pieces and the conveyor when robots or conveyors are used.

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