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Past Project in Detail

Nu-Lec - Design a Safer Method of Assembly for 'U' Series Circuit Recloser

03/05/2005

Design a Safer Method of Assembly for ‘U’ Series Circuit Recloser – Nu-Lec (Mechatronics student)

Nu-Lec Industries, part of Schneider Electric Company, specialise in the design and manufacture of medium voltage switchgear and protection equipment for electricity distributors and retailers.

The industrial engineering team at Lytton has recently completed a major factory re-layout project employing the principles of ‘lean’ manufacturing. As a result, the team has improved the overall efficiency of the plant. Now they are committed to a continuous improvement program.

Peter Lambie of Nu-Lec identified a mechanical design project as part of this program. The project is to design a safer and more efficient method of ‘handling’ and assembling the U Series unit. The U Series unit is a three-phase automatic circuit recloser, which is designed to mount on a power pole. It monitors the power flowing along the connected power lines and prevents power flowing along the lines if the power is unexpectedly high.

At present, an employee needs to ‘mate’ the mechanisms with the tank lid during assembly – by lifting and rotating the mechanism into place over the tank lid, which itself is mounted on a trolley. The weight of the mechanism is 28kg, which exceeds the maximum weight that a Nu-Lec employee can lift on their own, so two people are currently needed to lift the mechanism.

Emelie Watson, a Mechatronics student at UQ was appointed to this project in early March and will complete her project end-June 05.

Emelie will study the resource flow, process timing and ergonomics associated with the assembly process (utilising Lean Manufacturing methodology). She will then analyse the current situation, which will help to determine the best solution for assembly of the U series mechanism and help to optimise the whole assembly process.

The objectives that Emelie is working towards in her project, are:

· Conduct formal Time Measurement timings for the U-Series mechanism assembly workstation (using MTM methodology)

· Design and Implement a safe, effective and efficient method of assembling the U-series mechanism with tank lid · Ensure the workstation conforms with ‘best practice’ as per Schneider Production System

· Update/create appropriate documentation –

o Update work instructions

o Document project implementation in an industrial file suitably presented to set up a replica U-series mechanism assembly workstation

o File design drawings for future use

o Document calculations for reference

· Communicate the changes to employees

At the conclusion of Emelie’s project, assembly of the U-Series mechanism will be safer and require less effort. The flow-on effects are anticipated to include improved alertness of assembly staff, less fatigue, improved staff morale and an improvement in the overall working environment.

Peter Lambie recently commented that Emelie is “on track with her in-depth diagnosis and analysis of the current situation. The next stage is the design and implementation of the best solution. Emelie is quickly picking up the concepts of Lean Manufacturing and is acutely aware of the importance of these principles when making modifications to the production line”.

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