By: Bill Bregar
May 31, 2013
Haitian International Holdings Ltd. has started a moving assembly line for small injection presses at one of its plants in Ningbo, China.
Assembly lines are used in some injection press plants in other parts of the world, including Engel Holding GmbH in Austria. But the concept of a moving assembly line to make injection molding machines is "something quite new" in China, said Helmar Franz, Haitian's executive director and chief strategy officer.
Franz said Haitian retrofitted one of its oldest plants in Ningo for the line to build presses with clamping forces ranging from 60 to 200 metric tons. The process greatly increases efficiency, compared to the traditional method of workers bringing parts to a stationary machine, he said.
The Haitian setup is not super-modern, but it work wells well, he said. Injection molding machines are in carriages, set on rails. After a certain period of time, an employee uses a forklift to move the set of presses to the next station.
Franz said it's better than the old method of bringing in consultants to reorganize assembly. Instead a moving assembly line "trains the people" who do the direct assembly, he said. If an assembly employee is forced to run after a machine to finish a task, he or she soon will figure out how to work more efficiently.
"It forces them to think about it. So we can improve the process," he said.
Franz explained the new assembly line in a May 9 interview at Absolute Haitian Corp.'s new Parma technical center.