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Custom Building Projectors with 24-Hour Turnaround

Christie is a global visual technologies company offering diverse solutions for business, entertainment, visual environments and medical industries. With over 100,000 projection systems installed worldwide, Christie technologies include solutions for cinema, large audience environments, control rooms, business presentations, training facilities, 3D and virtual reality, simulation, education, media and government.

The manufacturing facility in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada is the worldwide center for advanced manufacturing of all Christie DLP® projectors. With over 200,000-ft2 (18580m2) of production floor space and 600+ employees, the certified ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 14001 facility houses top-of-the-line technology, equipment and employees. The manufacturing process is based on the Kaizen Lean Manufacturing philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement processes and the 5S methodology.

Meeting Customer Needs
The company has started to expand into new markets and new territories. With production already at capacity and limited room for expansion, Christie installed two Shuttle VLMs from Kardex Remstar — recovering 70 percent floor space, doubling capacity and cutting labor requirements in half.

All Christie projection systems are configured to order, but customers were also demanding quick delivery times. While increasing capacity, the company also sought to give customers the best of both worlds: custom-built projectors with 24-hour order turnaround time.

Room To Grow
With orders increasing, the company needed to double the number of sub-assembled projectors kept on hand. Previously, Christie maintained an inventory of 100 sub-assembled projectors, each stored on a cart that was two feet by three feet. "To double inventory with the previous cart system, we would have had to expand the area to make more room for 200 carts on the floor, buy more carts and hire more people," said Philip Hibberd, Sr. Manufacturing Engineer. Maintaining its lean manufacturing policy, the company implemented two Shuttle XP VLMs (Vertical Lift Modules), each holding 100 sub-assembled projectors. Both have room for more capacity, allowing inventory to increase based on sales projections. Including the work aisle, each Shuttle VLM occupies only 180-ft2 (16.7m2) of floor space, compared to the 600-ft2 (55.7m2)occupied by the previous cart system — providing a 70 percent floor space savings. Adding another VLM allowed the company to double capacity while only occupying an additional 180-ft2 (16.7m2). "The recovered floor space has been used to expand the sub-assembly process from six assembly stations to nine," said Hibberd.

Ergonomics and Safety
With each projector weighing in at approximately 52 pounds (26.6kg), worker ergonomics and safety is always a concern. "The projectors are very heavy and lifting them puts the employee at risk of injury and the projector at risk of damage," says Hibberd. Previously, projectors were stored on carts and the carts were often shuffled around to get to the one in the back. Employees were pushing and pulling carts all day long, leading to fatigue. Hoists were available to move projectors from a station to a cart and vice versa, but not all employees utilized the hoists.

Each VLM is equipped with automatic tray extraction and a hoist is mounted at the access point. The projectors are stored closely together on the trays, making it difficult to access the sub-assembled projectors without using the ergonomic hoist.

Once the tray is delivered to the access opening it is automatically extracted (pushed) out onto an extraction table for easy access. When a projector is ready for picking, the operator uses the handheld controls to position the hoist near the desired projector. The operator hooks the hoist onto the projector and again using the hand held controls lifts the projector into the air, moves it over to the cart and lowers it down onto the cart.

The operator confirms the pick and the tray is returned into the VLM. The hoist is unhooked from the projector and the operator wheels the projector over to the work table just a few feet away. Using the VLM automatic extraction feature combined with the ergonomic hoist eliminates heavy lifting when retrieving the projector.

Improving Efficiencies
Previously, four workers were required to pick and finish the sub-assembled projectors. Using a FIFO (first in, first out) picking strategy, it took a worker an average of 15 to 20 minutes to find a projector. "The sub-assembled projectors all look the same, so the operator would need to check each serial number until they found the correct one," said Hibberd. With the VLMs, only two workers are required and the required projector is delivered to the worker in under a minute. Christie is retrieving the projectors over 90 percent faster with half of the labor.

The VLMs have also allowed Christie to vary labor requirements based on demand. When orders increase at the end of the month, they can add another person to the VLM area quickly and easily. Variable labor provides Christie increased productivity when they need it to meet increased demand.

How It All Works
Now, after projector models are sub-assembled and tested, they are delivered to the Shuttle VLM work in process area for storage. Projectors are received into the VLM inventory and stored by serial number and sub assembly date so that they can be easily identified for FIFO (first in, first out) picking later in the process. Customer orders are received and processed through JD Edwards software and sent to the FastPic inventory management software that manages the VLM workstation. The operator in the work-in-process zone is tasked with identifying the correct subassembled projector to the order by serial number, finishing the assembly work and delivering it to final electrical testing.

When ready, the operator processes the order with the click of a button and the VLM automatically presents the projector required. Since each projector is stored by serial number and sub-assembly date, the software picks the projectors in FIFO order.

Upon delivery, the tray is automatically extracted (pushed) out onto a table so that the operator can use an ergonomic hoist to lift the projector from the tray onto an assembly cart. Each tray has 4 to 5 locations within the tray, each identified with a location number. The FastPic inventory management software screen identifies the exact position in the tray where the projector is located. The operator retrieves the correct projector, and moves it to a cart using the ergonomic hoist. The cart is then wheeled over to the workstation where the operator customizes the projector based on the options the customer requires.

The completed projector is then delivered to electrical testing. Once electrical testing is completed, a UL-approved label is applied and the projector is sent to shipping, where it is shipped to meet the 24-hour turnaround time that customers expect.

"The VLMs fit nicely into the lean flow in our facility. From sub-assembly to testing to storage to configuration to verification testing to shipping — we strive for a lean process — cutting wasted time and effort from the process," said Hibberd.

Contact: Kardex Remstar, LLC, 41 Eisenhower Drive, Westbrook, ME 04092 800-639-5805 Web:

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