Why process optimisation under cleanroomconditions places stringent demands on the planning and selection of suitablecomponents.
Maquetis a leading manufacturerof medical systems. Established in 1838, the company’s products are primarilyused in the critical areas of hospitals such as operating rooms, intensive careunits and laboratory environments. As a result, the products – and thereforethe associated production environments – have to meet high quality standards.At the same time, competition in the medical technology sector is getting evertougher, meaning that success is not just dependent on delivering optimumquality, but also on achieving the best possible production efficiency based onleanproduction.To test out how production processes incleanrooms could be optimised, the company decided to refit a pre-existingmanual assembly system for a compact centrifugal pump used in portable heartlung machines.
The centrifugal pumps are manufactured inline with stringent ISO 13485 and GMP hygiene and cleanliness requirements in aspecialised site that Maquet runs in three-shift operation. However, anothersite took over many of the workstations that had been used there to date. As aresult, the individual stations were not standardised, nor were they modular,which meant there was not enough flexibility to implement the plannedimprovements. The decision was therefore taken to establish a new productionline based on the lean philosophy.
This process optimisation centred onswitching to a U-line with short routes between the individual assembly stepsand one element of this involved improving workplace ergonomics. To achievethis, the individual working areas would need to offer flexible adjustmentoptions to ensure workers of very different sizes can always lay their hands ontools and materials in their personal handling area with the greatest of ease.Since sensitive electronic components are installed during the productionprocess, end-to-end ESD protection was also an essential requirement.
After completing its internal planning for the production linerefit, Maquet turned to item for the practical side of things. There were threemain reasons for this. Firstly, the in-house workshop at the site had alreadybeen working with our versatile aluminium profile technology for quite sometime, and with great success. Secondly, Line X offered an ideal solution as aprofile variant without grooves that is easy to clean, resistant to thecleaning agents typically used in cleanrooms and electrostatically dissipative,making it ESD-safe.
Thirdly, and no less importantly, the high availability of itemcomponents and our delivery reliability also proved crucial to this project.Converting the production system to a U-line during three-shift operation andunder cleanroom conditions simply was not an option. All that was left was avery tight timeframe over the Christmas holidays when production stopped.Delivery delays or the unavailability of components would almost automaticallyresult in the project being put back at least six months.
It was also important to Maquet, as the basis for its in-houselean strategy, that employees be involved as much as possible in developing themanual assembly work benches. Staff who work in an area for eight hours a dayusually have a good feel for potential improvements. If these can be realisedsimply using flexible material supply systems, modular components andelectrically height-adjustable work benches, not only will that improveproduction efficiency, it will also motivate employees and make them morelikely to embrace the new production environment.
By pursuing this strategy with reliable partners, Maquet succeededin boosting productivity on the production line by 20 percent. Putting thevarious measures into action as a team helped the company cut throughput timeby 10 percent and rejects by 8 percent.