When my daughters were young, Christmas was a joyous surprise because of the gifts Santa brought them. Similar to homes worldwide, the girls would wake up and rush to the Christmas tree to look at their presents.
What they didn't know, however, was the hours leading up to that big reveal. They didn't see parts and pieces of a play kitchenette scattered all over the floor. They also didn't see an unusually large elf sitting on that floor using colorful language while trying to understand the assembly instructions.
Imagine that same scenario where large sections of the kitchenette are pre-assembled then shipped to that unhappy elf. Instead of 20 minutes of sleep, he'd have nearly a full night's rest.
Let's take this analogy further. Original equipment manufacturers (OEM) find themselves in a similar situation as that elf. They receive hundreds, if not thousands of individual components they need for manufacturing their products.
This is where kitting makes its mark.
What is Kitting?
Kitting saves OEMs assembly time because fabricators organize and assemble some components of their product, and they deliver them to the OEM.
Kitting has been around for many years. Recently, it's making a comeback because of the popularity of lean manufacturing and quick response manufacturing (QRM). By implementing a kitting program, OEMs eliminate any bottlenecks in their supply chain. Kitting centralizes components, and when delivered, those components arrive ready for assembly of a larger piece of equipment.
There are plenty of advantages of kitting, the most common being:
- Faster Inventory Turnover
- Accurate Shipping
- Improved Assembly
Faster Inventory Turnover
Inventory turnover refers to the number of times a manufacturer sells its inventory in a year.
Kitting improves inventory turnover by communicating with an OEM regarding its production schedule. If the OEM plans on making a certain number of products in the next month, the supplying fabricator knows how many components to order for a kit. Knowing ahead of time prevents a build-up of inventory by continually turning it over.
When fabricators store components, they base their costs on how much space those parts take up. Using kitting eliminates the assembled individual pieces in a component. Now, components use less space and, best of all, become a single item.
Shipping is the next step after warehousing. When shipped as a kit, assembled components simplify the shipping process. How? When a fabricator knows ahead of time that an OEM needs the kitted product, they already have created proper shipping containers and know their weight. With these preparations, weighing and labeling each package is no longer necessary.
Kitting improves the assembly process by eliminating the number of times handling the material. Kitting reduces:
- Operator's motion time
- Machine downtime caused by a lack of inventory
Like a coin, kitting has two sides.
Until establishing a sales history, dealing with inventory counts add expenses. Plus, like a chain's weakest link, so is the supply chain for the fabricator. If components aren't available, then the supply chain halts until replenished.
When considering a kitting process, a company must first audit their organization for identifying inefficiencies. Task various managers with examining how their department's work.
Look for bottlenecks in production. Make a note of components hard to keep track of or are often forgotten. When always using parts together, it takes extra time to track and store these components separately. Think about combining unique products and elements. Components that require a bill of materials (BOM) are also a great candidate for a kit.
Learn how your company manages parts stored in inventory and try merging different components into one.
After figuring out the best way of controlling your inventory and supply chain, talk to the other managers and discover their findings. Find common ground between departments and use that information for implementing a kitting program.
When properly implemented, kitting helps improve the entire supply chain between fabricator and OEM. It eases inventory and shipping costs and saves time during the assembly process. Like any process, kitting works only if everybody sticks to the plan. A single problem brings everything to a standstill.
When considering kitting, bring out your inner elf for a greater appreciation of the process.