New Techniques for High-Mix, Low-Volume Production

November 16, 2006

High-mix, low-volume production is big trend for manufacturers supplying Just-In-Time (JIT) customers. Due to this, there is a great deal of pressure to make the production process, even under high-mix, low-volume demands, as efficient as possible. Tim Jones, HMC product manager at Makino, discusses technology that can be applied to make low-volume production more efficient. Highlighted are programming features, fixturing methods, machine tool technologies, knowledge-based databases, and low-volume automation capabilities. "Many shops are finding that high mix, low volume is the only way to stay competitive in markets where the customer base or production requirements are tightening," said Jones. "With the proper level of automation and a few tricks applied, high mix, low volume can be more like typical production setups." When discussing automation, Jones goes into detail on the several levels of automation, each making the process more efficient and less labor intensive. He also discusses advanced production-control software, emphasizing the features from which low-volume production shops can benefit. Several case studies of low-volume production are discussed where new technologies in low-volume production are implemented, and cycle time and overall costs are reduced.

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