Lean Engineering Implementation Challenges for Automotive Remanufacturing 2009-01-1188
Remanufacturing, or Reman, is an industrial process whereby used products referred to as cores are restored to useful life . The automotive reman products in the current state account for two thirds of all reman according to Steinhilper . The growing “Green” awareness can force the automotive OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) to demand more reman products from the OE suppliers in their contracts. Also reman makes a lot of economic sense for the customers and the OE suppliers since the reman products are sold at an average price range of 60% of the price of a new product .
This paper is a case study of how the authors applied lean principles to increase the project throughput through the reman engineering organization to meet the growing demand for reman products. Extensive literature exists on how to apply lean in the plant floor. But very few papers talk about how to apply the same lean principles in the office environment even before it hits the plant floor. Applying lean principles to the office area is more challenging since the transactional processes are not easily visible like a product moving through the different operations in a manufacturing plant. The authors were challenged with a heavy influx of reman projects and demonstrate a systematic application of lean principles to increase throughput. Also they were confronted with strategic and organizational challenges that impacted the culture change to a lean engineering system. The authors conclude that a strong sense of urgency combined with a systematic application of lean transformed the organization. The lean effort improved the reman project throughput by 153% for the Delphi reman engineering organization.
The success factors that contributed to lean reman product development includes: a strong top management commitment with proper project selection, long term vision and participation, a tight development schedule that surface issues and a “must-do” attitude , a strong process understanding of the current state, process visibility of projects using visual controls, weekly meetings and a competent work force supported by proper lean and project management training.