March 28, 2002
If trying to improve your roll forming operation, look at the four M's -- machine, materials, manpower, and method. Those four areas hold the key to whatever may ail you.
During roll forming, numerous activities are performed at the same time. Many people, especially those new to this type of manufacturing, are overwhelmed by the high production speed and the complexity of the tooling.
Don't despair, even specialists have much to learn. Just ask any machine builder which manufacturing or systems concepts are standard for the industry or can be used all the time. You will be surprised at the variety of answers you receive. Every cross section, every machine, and every tooling set has its own little idiosyncrasies.
Let's look at some tools to define the roll forming process better. Our goal is to break the entire roll forming system down into its building blocks so that you can review, troubleshoot, and improve each segment to achieve optimum performance. The same practice has been followed for many years in such areas as standards improvement in industrial engineering and carries through to the latest lean manufacturing theories.
This exercise breaks down the entire roll forming process into four main categories:
If all four of these factors were optimized, you would have a perfect process, meaning a process that performs at the highest possible level. As you look at the details of each roll forming process, ask yourself:
You might call this mere common sense, but just take a look at your process. Go out on the floor and check it out. But do it up close and personal. Get right into the current status of the line (you might want to dress appropriately for the occasion). Many times you will hear "I think it looks like . . . " from an operator. That's not good enough. Get the facts. Take pictures. Talk to your operators and maintenance people.
For detailed information, also refer to the appropriate literature. You'd be amazed at how much information you can find at the local library.
Following are some pointers you can use to start identifying your process.
In essence, you need to review all of the facilities involved in your process, taking these steps:
You also need to review all raw material in detail and ask yourself the following:
Manpower does not refer to a specific gender; it just keeps the M's going.
In this step you need to analyze the human element of the process:
Now you should examine the overall operation to define the status:
These are some of the many questions you should be asking yourself. In short, you never should be afraid to confront the truth about your process, no matter how gruesome it may be.