The automotive manufacturing industry is highly competitive. Being situated in a high-cost labor market region such as Canada means it’s even more critical to reduce costs and increase efficiency to compete with low-cost regions around the world, both internally at Magna and externally. To remain competitive, Magna has embarked on a continuous improvement project across all divisions worldwide.
At the Dortec plant in Ontario specifically, they wanted to focus on and improve systemic downtime as part of the overall continuous improvement project. They were also seeing a trend in wearables and VR and AR, and wanted to try to integrate some of these technologies into their current tech environment.
One significant efficiency challenge the plant wanted to resolve with wearables was improving employee communication. When a line goes down, there are usually only one or two people in a given facility who can resolve the issue and restart the line. Finding those individuals by phone, radio or physical search inside an enormous and loud manufacturing facility can be a difficult and time-consuming process.
“We were trying to create a system that could self-generate and be more intuitive than our current reactive setting,” said Darren Charbonneau, the director of lean manufacturing at Magna International.
Another aspect of the project was to leverage the wearables to collect intelligence that would make waste more visible than in the past. The key areas of waste that the plant focused on include:
- Minimizing transportation
- Reducing downtime
- Making rework visible
- Better utilization of skills, capabilities and talent
To meet these goals, the company was looking to leverage new technologies and capabilities that would improve the quality, flexibility and efficiency of manufacturing processes. They also wanted to make these processes more intuitive to boost their culture of continuous improvement.
Finally, with a long-term goal of becoming a smart factory, the company wanted to find a partner who could work with them to develop a baseline for a smart factory concept. Because they are a global company, they also needed a partner who had a similar global reach and the expertise to show them how to leverage and develop a technical solution that would meet the needs of their environment.