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TRW Revamps Caliper Reman Line for Overall Operations Improvement

Company Institutes Lean Manufacturing Techniques

CARSON, Calif.
Jun 10, 2002

TRW Automotive has significantly restructured its caliper remanufacturing line for its Autospecialty aftermarket business to greatly improve overall operations and quality. TRW currently manufactures more than 2,700 caliper part numbers, with a total volume of 250,000 units per year.

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TRW identified an opportunity to improve its operations and business plans for its Autospecialty business and the revamp of the caliper reman line has been extremely successful. The reorganization was based on replacing the existing "batch" production methods with "lean manufacturing" concepts. An example of "batch" production method is having large amounts of work in progress (WIP) between each process operation. This type of production method results in the need for a larger floor area, potential quality issues, sorting when a rejected part is found in the system, double handling, and additional labor since each process is out of balance due to unequal cycle times. The new process is based on "lean manufacturing" techniques, which includes balancing the assembly operations to allow for "one piece flow," such as removing all WIP between each process, therefore allowing better control and operator utilization throughout each line.

"We reduced the number of assembly lines from 10 to seven and increased capacity from 250,000 to 309,000 units per shift," said David Bourne, manufacturing development manager, TRW Automotive. "This reduction of assembly lines enabled us to open up 11,400 square feet of floor space for future development -- a major improvement."

In addition, the new manufacturing set-up has improved material handling and process flow. Packing has now been moved to the end of each line when it was previously carried out in a central packaging area, which occasionally resulted in finished assemblies being packed in the wrong boxes.

The "tap and brush" phase of the caliper reman was taken off the end of the assembly lines and moved to a dedicated area, adjacent to the assembly lines, to eliminate contamination and reduce dust.

The new layout has saved at least 750 miles of forklift traffic per year. TRW now ships daily to its distribution sites in Chicago and New Jersey direct from the end of the new assembly lines, thus avoiding the double handling to and from the warehouse, and prime pick areas.

Ergonomically redesigned workstations and carts, dust reduction techniques and improved lighting all contribute to enhanced environmental health and safety conditions for the workforce.

"Overall team morale has appreciably improved," added Bourne. "Once we trained the workforce on the new process flow of the assembly line, our employees embraced the new work ethos and welcomed these new efficient lines."

TRW Autospecialty is part of TRW Automotive's aftermarket business, which delivers a comprehensive range of replacement parts for braking, steering and suspension and clutch systems covering passenger car, sport utility vehicle and light truck applications. TRW Automotive is a world leader in braking, steering and suspension systems, automotive electronics, fastening systems, occupant safety systems, commercial steering systems and engine components for the global automotive industry.

TRW Inc. (NYSE: TRW) provides advanced technology products and services to the automotive, aerospace, telecommunications and information technology markets worldwide. TRW had 2001 sales of $17.2 billion. For more information, visit .


Photo: NewsCom: AP Archive: PRN Photo Desk, +1-888-776-6555 or +1-212-782-2840 SOURCE: TRW Automotive

CONTACT: Juli Ballesteros of TRW Automotive, +1-703-858-1880

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