Page 9 - GlobalEyes Edition 4 Aug 2011

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“We chose Lean Design
because it is a process which
has been successfully used
across multiple industries like
aerospace, automotive,
shipbuilding, and heavy industry,
to significantly drive down cost.”
The process forced the team
to look at every structural
component on the wagon and
challenge its value. Was it
needed? Could it be made
more simply? Could the
material be changed? Could it
be combined with other parts?
Keith said team members all
had opinions on the best way
to design and manufacture
components, but the Lean
Design method replaced
opinions with numbers.
“Nothing was considered
sacred or untouchable,”
he said.
“An example of how we replaced
opinions with numbers was
when we looked at the centre
sill structure – the backbone
of the ore wagon. There are
several different ways to make
a centre sill, and everyone has
an opinion on which way is
best. When we did a detailed
analysis it pointed us in one
direction – and away
from another.
The project began in February
when Bradken’s Rail Division
began a process of improving
the competitive position of a
mature 160-tonne iron ore
wagon structure.
As a result of the process, the
team lead by Scott Simson,
Brendan Johnson and John
Balaam identified 11% in
potential material cost savings,
8% in potential weight savings,
and a 25% potential
improvement in the quality
cost of the Next-Gen Wagon.
Engineering Manager, Keith
Hannan said Rail had been
working “aggressively” for a
while to improve engineering
and manufacturing methods.
“We looked at new materials,
new manufacturing methods,
and are working diligently to
improve our design thinking,”
Keith said.
“The Lean Design™ method
we began using in February
challenged us to look at our
designs differently and with
a great deal of discipline.
“The process highlighted how
often we waste precious time
arguing with opinion rather
than numbers. Using Lean
Design, we did the analysis
and let the numbers talk.”
One of the other key
considerations for the team
was how the plant was
building the product. There is
no lean manufacturing without
Lean Design.
“In common with other Bradken
product development teams,
we are looking to improve
cycle times for the product
development and project
engineering processes,”
Keith said.
“What we discovered is that
most of our design on the
wagon structure we were
considering put all the
difficult welding at the end of
production – the last place
anyone wants to create a
“So our team created workable
concepts that took all the
difficult processing and
moved it from the end of the
line to the beginning – where
it could be controlled and
reduce negative cost variation
in the manufacturing facility.”
While every change probably
won’t be implemented, Keith
said the process enabled the
team to look at everything with
different eyes than before.
“The month-long workshop in
February was just the start of
the process,” he said.
“Talk and analysis are only
worthwhile if something gets
implemented, so that’s what
we’ve been working on.
“Our whole engineering staff
went through some basic
training on Lean Design and
they are off and running with
the methodology.
“In June, we expanded our
effort to include training of our
manufacturing staff in Xuzhou.
The Xuzhou team of Wenqiang
Wang, Youjiang Zheng,
Pingfang Wen, Fengji Zheng
and Yang Zhang worked with
the Australian team to ensure
that we are all pushing for the
same end result: satisfied
customers with excellent
quality products.”
The adoption of a lean design methodology has
enabled Bradken’s Rail Division to meet the
specific product savings needs of a key customer,
generate several patentable ideas, significantly
improve design and reduce product cost.