Lean, clean production machine

2013-08-22 - ABB’s award-winning generator circuit breaker factory in Switzerland has set a lean manufacturing benchmark for doubling production capacity from half the floor space and cutting production time from 3 weeks to 2 days.

By ABB Communications

Shop floor of GCB factory in Switzerland

ABB is the world’s leading supplier of generator circuit breakers (GCBs). GCBs protect power plants by immediately breaking a circuit in the event of fault currents, thereby isolating damage and protecting the generator, transformers and other vital equipment.

ABB manufactures these critical high-tech devices in Switzerland, at the state-of-the-art factory that was voted European factory of the year in 2010 at a ‘Best Factory Conference’ organized by the German business journal, Wirtschaftswoche.

It won this accolade for transforming the way that GCB production takes place and for setting a benchmark for how the factory of the future should operate – with improved processes, enhanced products and best-in-class customer service.

More than 7,000 power plants rely on ABB GCBs to protect critical equipment and minimize unscheduled downtime.

The entire production process at the GCB factory is based on the ‘lean enterprise’ concept, where products and processes are continuously optimized to reduce key input requirements like time, space and capital. Flow production principles help optimize the use of space and time, and process efficiencies are built into the entire production and logistics chain, from suppliers to end users.

This approach leads to significantly shorter lead times, shorter cycle times and stock reduction, all contributing to improved efficiency and productivity.

Since opening the factory ABB has cut the average production time for GCBs from 20 days to 2 days. The entire delivery time – including engineering, manufacturing, testing and quality control – takes just three months. Dispatch schedules are met by the hour and the factory acceptance test (FAT) is completed within two hours. Customers don’t even need to be on-site for the FAT; they can observe it in real time by webcam.

ABB manufactures between 350 and 450 GCBs a year at the factory. The knowledge and experience gained at the facility is now being shared with other ABB factories worldwide.

To learn more about ABB’s factory of the future, watch the video below.

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