People, Process & Experience: Building a Quality Production Line
Facteon is a vertically integrated solutions provider. We focus on consistently offering the latest in production machinery to customers across the globe. Our commitment to quality has led us to establish our own in-house Build Shop and Machine Shop that cater to internal and external customers. We design and build production machinery for global manufacturing leaders such as Haier, Fisher & Paykel and GE Appliances. Facteon’s machine building process has been honed over decades. We keep many of our key processes in-house to ensure Facteon standards are met.
The machine building process typically takes place over four to six weeks. Throughout this process, the focus is centred on building a quality production line that will allow for the manufacture of best-in-class product. In 2018, all Facteon production lines were delivered on time or ahead of schedule.
Quality Components to Produce Quality Product
To ensure the quality of every machine component, Facteon produces components in-house wherever practical and possible. Facteon’s well equipped Machine Shop manufactures all critical to quality components. This allows the team to retain full control over the component. The Machine Shop operates two shifts per day, six days a week. With extended hours, the team can retain flexibility to complete larger scale components for inclusion in a production line while still catering to other customers requiring smaller, one-off parts.
Another asset in Facteon’s machine building facility is the vast range of highly specialised equipment available in our Machine Shop. Our unique machinery includes double column, large format machines as well as CNC mills and lathes of various sizes. The latter utilise onboard CAD and CAM programming. Here, our design engineers can collaborate with our Machine Shop programmers to achieve the necessary levels of precision in component manufacture. In our Machine Shop, we seek to integrate the latest technologies with more traditional machining methods. This combination allows us to fully harness the potential of the machinery while using the latest technology to improve precision and efficiencies.
Partnering with Reliable External Suppliers
The remaining components required are produced by thoroughly vetted external providers based in New Zealand, China and the United States. We utilise a Facteon-developed tier rating system to ensure our standards are met by all external suppliers. Following the delivery of a part, Facteon’s experienced machinists inspect the part to ensure quality standards have been met before it is moved to the component bin for inclusion in the production line. We work closely with external suppliers prior to and during the manufacturing process to ensure that Facteon standards are understood and met.
To negate the potential for errors in components manufactured externally, we focus on building relationships with external providers. As part of establishing these relationships, we provide training to ensure Facteon’s quality standards are met. Rather than simply outsourcing the manufacture, we aim to effectively communicate to the supplier how this component will integrate with the project as a whole. We find this same approach particularly effective with internal machining also. It allows the machinists to raise any concerns and share ideas while also increasing motivation levels as the component contributes to the success of the production line.
Quality People to Build Quality Lines
Employing the latest machinery is pointless without skilled operators. In my experience, exposure to all stages of the process allows for greater understanding, and ultimately, an improved quality of work.
During the machine building phase, there is often coordination between machine builders and design engineers. Our design engineers are based in the facility where the lines are built. This allows for consultation throughout the build. Facteon’s flat organisational structure encourages Build Shop staff to approach project managers and design engineers directly to better understand the projects they’re working on. This delivers value to the customer as staff with varied skill sets work collectively to maximise the potential of your line.
While encouraging collaboration, we also focus on providing extensive in-house training at all levels of the organisation. With several senior machine builders on site, there are many learning opportunities for apprentices and intermediate-level machine builders. The typical career development path for a Build Shop employee is to enter the business at an apprentice or machine builder level prior to progressing to working as a commissioning engineer. The focus on continuously developing staff of all levels encourages collaboration and continued development. Junior staff are often paired with more experienced machine builders on a project. Many of our staff are also present on customer sites for extended periods to install the line prior to on-site commissioning. As a result, there’s an understanding of the customer’s needs throughout the design, building and commissioning process. Facteon’s high level of vertical integration ensures high quality work as staff understand the impact of each smaller part of the project they’re working on.
Quality Project Management to Ensure Delivery
During the machine building process, I work closely with the customer’s dedicated project manager. This is a customer’s key point of contact and advocate within the business. Facteon project managers frequently spend extended periods on customer sites during the installation and commissioning phases. You’ll benefit from having a Facteon machinery expert on site to facilitate the process of integrating your production line into your existing factory. As part of this integration process, we also provide your team with training to ensure they understand how to safely and effectively operate the production line. This induction process is an essential in enabling factories to produce quality product once the line is up and running.
Another major advantage of Facteon’s project management capabilities is the specialised skill set held by the team. The project management team has overseen the build and install of multiple production lines for global manufacturers in the USA, China, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. As a result, we’re able to utilise our experience and apply our learnings across industries and geographical locations.
As producing quality products is at the core of our customer’s operations, we’ve developed a machine building process that delivers on this key requirement. The intersection of quality components, produced by both our in-house Machine Shop and top-tier external suppliers, with expert staff and a strong project management offering allows us to continue delivering quality production lines on time and to specification.
At Facteon, we’ve embedded Industry 4.0 technology and thinking into everything we do as a direct result of our own experience. We use that to offer solutions for manufacturers that combine our connected production-line products with lean manufacturing processes and our Industrial IoT software platform, COSMOline. We apply the expertise we’ve developed to eliminate the pain points from your manufacturing processes, so you can focus on delivering a superior product to your customers in an efficient and consistent manner.