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Android Industries' Auto Subassembly Plant Boosts Efficiency

The company cuts labor costs by 10 percent and improves safety, by using Zebra Technologies' Material Flow system for parts replenishment.
By Claire Swedberg
If a forklift driver pulls material from a storage location and sees that the inventory levels for those goods have dropped to a specified minimum, he can create an exception in the Material Flow software that sends a text message or e-mail to the office staff, indicating the need for a investigation or reorder. The data used by Material Flow is generated directly from the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system's data, and is imported into the Material Flow software.

The efficiency gains have reduced expenses for the company, Cranney says, and have led to Android already recouping its investment. Warehouse workers spend less time driving around the facility, which saves on labor and fuel costs, and also increases productivity. He estimates that the cost of material replenishment has dropped by approximately 10 percent since the system was installed.

"We have models that assess the flow in the plant," Cranney says, adding that using the WhereNet system "adds to the data we use to do that." The solution enables management to easily determine such details as the number of replenishment orders fulfilled per warehouse worker, and opportunities to rebalance workloads as needed. More important, he says, the system provides safety improvements, since the less time staff members spend driving around "sharking" the assembly floor (circling the area looking for goods that require replenishment), the less opportunity there is for injuries.

Android Industries operates multiple assembly facilities around the world, of varying sizes. According to Cranney, the company is currently considering ways to expand the Material Flow application to some of those other locations.

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