The objective of this case-based study is to analyze continuous improvement in cellular manufacturing at an IC (integrated circuit) recorder manufacturing plant in Japan. The study provides practical and valuable insight on how productivity gain of one-worker cellular production can be made over time. On the basis of feedback from workers as well as analysis of their motions using therblig, the study reveals the following six major steps to improve productivity: (1) size reduction of cases for assembly parts, (2) layout change of cases for assembly parts, (3) size reduction and layout change of cases for finished products, (4) position change of the oscilloscope that is used for electronic testing of finished products, (5) height reduction of the worktables (i.e., the assembly table and the testing table), and (6) configuration change of a cell from L-shape to I-shape. The implementation results indicate that workers reduced the takt time by about 19%, and hence assembled about 23% more products. The results suggest that continuous improvement plays an important role in cellular manufacturing from the perspective of human dimensions.
James Ang Soo-Keng