Using SMED on a Farm Machinery Processing Line
The Sakai plant is Kubota, Ltd.’s principal facility for the manufacture of farm machinery, one of the mainstays of the company. The plant produces a wide variety of equipment, including small and large tractors, large combines, and large and small diesel and air-cooled engines. With limited growth potential and intensifying competition in the domestic market, the firm has been strengthening its expanded export orientation. To compete overseas, low production costs and a broad product line are needed. In addition, domestic demand is shifting from an emphasis on machinery for rice cultivation toward nonrice agricultural machinery, spurring the current move to low-volume production of a variety of machine types. On a line for processing cases for small tractors, aluminum die-cast raw material was finished by milling, boring, piercing, tapping, and washing. Commercial multiple-axis drill presses and tapping machines were used for the piercing and tapping processes, and although various off-line machines were used as well, long setups were a common problem.