Enabling Lean Flow in System Configuration, Assembly, and Test by Developing a Hybrid Scheduling and Control System: A Case Study
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In production of electronic components, the final stage in the production is often characterised by multidisciplinary system assemblies, also referred to as AT manufacturing. These processes typically include system configuration, assembly, software installation, system test, test of electronic equipment, etc. The challenges presented in such manufacturing environments is that the processes are often complex, and it can be time consuming to coordinate different disciplines to each other. There are several planning, scheduling and control mechanisms customised for different disciplines, such as agile software development systems and lean production principles. Implementing just one system for scheduling and control that is optimal for all the disciplines can be challenging, since different disciplines has different requirements for the scheduling and control system. If companies want to improve the scheduling and control principles used, reduce the lead time, and achieve lean flow, a customised scheduling and control system must be implemented. Qualitative literature studies have been used to identify the requirements of the processes in AT manufacturing. The literature study revealed that agile software development and lean principles are commonly used for similar processes. By comparing an assortment of agile software development systems and push/pull and WLC lean principles, five systems remained applicable for the AT manufacturing, which could be combined with each other. Scrum and ConWIP are the foundation for the hybrid scheduling and control system, while attributes from Kanban, LPS and XP is included. Scrum serves as the foundation for the overall production scheduling, while ConWIP controls the physical product flow. The final hybrid scheduling and control system is based on customised adaption to processes from the AT manufacturing, and facilitate lean flow to the extent possible for such production. By using a case company, challenges of the AT manufacturing environment have been studied in practice. Through qualitative methods information was collected regarding processes, products, and scheduling and control principles used in the company. In order to evaluate how the hybrid scheduling and control system can be implemented in practice, a suggestion for the case company is presented.