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Publication Date: 08/1/2010
Archive >  August 2010 Issue >  Production > 

Lean Components Creating Leaner Processes
Custom-made bus bar.

Lean manufacturing and lean components lead to more than just cost savings. These smarter parts also provide improved safety, quicker delivery and increased product and process quality. Lean components, therefore, pose a huge advantage in the market for lean manufacturers who desire to improve their current processes.

Condensing multiple assembly components into one larger component can save a company time and money from the beginning of the design process to the end product and at every step in between. Bus bars, in particular, are examples of lean components that can be used for countless electrical applications. Their benefits rely on their quality, reproducibility, consistency and relatively simple design. Bus bars are among the lean components that have shown their value in reducing the risk of human error, lowering inductance and increasing electrical efficiencies. Bus bars convert a complex mess of cables into a single robust assembly. Nearly any power distribution requirement can be satisfied with the use of a bus bar. In terms of the reduction of wires alone, bus bars diminish installation and setup times and shrink the risk of human error. Because the handling of materials is minimized, bus bars reduce the number of unnecessary operations, and these lean-manufacturing-friendly components cost and weigh significantly less than wires and cables and represent valuable electrical efficiencies. Furthermore, heat dissipation is more efficient in bus bars due to their larger surface areas, which enable them to remain cooler than wires and cables.

Bus bars and integrated electronic assemblies are both considered "block" products, which simplify and improve fit and functionality by presenting components as one large assembly. The block design is a lean engineering technique that fuels the primitive stages of component design while supporting individual needs, since those involved in the creation of bus bars and similar assemblies can work directly with manufacturers to design to specifications.

A bus bar passes through various manufacturing stages in a simplified manner, as one solid object, rather than multiple components. This prevents missing pieces, eliminates costly guesswork and speeds up the design-verification process. Not only does the bus bar shorten process development — the small steps to assemble the block have already been taken care of by the vendor — it also virtually eliminates the chance to improperly connect or wire the assembly. With a simplified installation, fewer manufacturing personnel are required to complete fewer steps. And following the design phase, the block approach benefits nearly every other aspect of production by significantly cutting costs and saving time.

Procurement can benefit from the block design by arranging vendors for one individual assembly (block), rather than a long list. Manufacturers can order a single item rather than numerous items, simplifying communication by eliminating multiple part files. The block design technique carries through to receiving, allowing for a customer source inspection of only a single unit rather than traveling to multiple vendors to inspect individual components. When follow-up is required, it can be accomplished with far less effort than if numerous parts had been involved. Similar benefits exist in receiving, as customers can conduct source inspections at the vendor's facility of the single unit, rather than traveling to multiple locations to inspect several components.

This approach also simplifies bookkeeping, since it only requires cutting one check for one part to a single vendor. And this approach can further result in easier inventory control. First, of course, is the benefit of creating one rather than multiple inventory part numbers. Also, if this block design were broken down into its individual components and assembled in-house, an additional number of separate components would have to be inventoried to compensate for expected manufacturing loss, usually estimated at 20 percent. Furthermore, typical block assemblies are pre-tested before delivery then sealed, so they do not require the same level of delicate handling and storage as disconnected, sensitive components. Manufacturing of bus bar block components requires less process development since prior steps to assemble the block have already been taken care of by the vendor.

The benefits in manufacturing the bus bar assembly reduce the risk of incorrect and/or improper wiring. Installation becomes more efficient based on its static geometry and definable terminations, which results in fewer manufacturing personnel and process instructions required. Lean engineering techniques incorporated by lead bus bar designers provides an engineered insurance of fit and function. Through numerous inspections in the early stages of design, bus bar block assemblies guarantee exactness and fewer parts to issue during the manufacturing process. These components absolutely fit into their intended functions, since they are designed specifically for their particular purposes and go through numerous inspections prior to implementation.

Contact: Custom Electronics, Inc., 87 Browne Street, Oneonta, NY 13820 607-432-3880 fax: 607-432-3913 E-mail: Web:


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