When people and organizations start thinking and speaking about Automation most certainly visions of robots dancing gracefully like ballet dancers comes to mind. For that Vision of Automation to become reality you really need to look and concentrate on the connector. Here is where you will see Chaku Chaku in action.
The term "Chaku Chaku" may sound funny to most employees, but it's a serious base line discipline that supports Automation.
Japanese for "load load," chaku chaku is an efficient style of production in which all the machines needed to make a part are situated in the correct sequence very close together. The operator simply loads a part and moves on to the next operation. Each machine performs a different stage of production, such as turning, drilling, cleaning, testing or sandblasting.
Here is where you can get started. Typically many of these operations reside in stand alone technology islands or companies even devote entire departments to a process. Immediately, scheduling and material handling become management obstacles. At La-Z-Boy we were proud of our technology departments from Cutting, sewing, making frames and ultimately and hopefully coming together at upholstery to become a final product.
Move your machines and operations into a new Chaku Chaku line. Look for ways where the output from one machine or process automatically loads into the next process step or machine. You may need to slow down a machine to achieve a balance between the operations ... but predictable consistency is far better than a series of sprints.
Gravity is your best friend when it comes to Automation and the use of Chaku Chaku. Simple slides between machines are not only inexpensive, easy to maintain but create a slight buffer between operations.
Applying the principal of Chaku Chaku will require nerves of steel as this task will require breaking down many barriers along the way. Starting on this will quickly reveal just how many absurd paradigms have infected your business just by wanting to slide operations closer.
While you are in the mode of breaking paradigms you might as well go all of the way:
Challenge Engineering to reduce the part count by 50%
Reduce the number and types of fasteners by 50%
Make sure only one size of tool is need for assembly or disassembly
Run several exercises on Set-Up Reduction with a goal of doing a change within one cycle
Once you have completed this list make sure you apply the 5S's of Process Improvement
Just applying Chaku Chaku to existing product realization will yield awesome results. The adrenalin will be flowing and innovation will start to seep from the pores of your team. That is when you can start to look at replacing that precious labor with cobots or robots. Innovative design of end-of-arm tooling for your robots.
Does Chaku Chaku work? at La-Z-Boy it took us 14-16 weeks from work order release to get a chair into a box. Today we are averaging 90% of our production requirements in a box in under 2 hours.