html{display:none} Continuous improvement reduces lead time on popular SEL products to five days | Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories
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Continuous improvement reduces lead time on popular SEL products to five days

An ongoing process improvement campaign in SEL manufacturing factories is helping SEL ship custom-made products within days of receiving orders. For many popular SEL products, this lead time is just five days.

From Ordering to Shipping: Five Days Away
Historically, SEL quoted a 12-day lead time for many products, in an industry where lead times are usually measured in weeks. Thanks to recent efficiency improvements in manufacturing, several products are meeting a new standard—shipping in only 5 days. SEL factory teams have improved overall efficiency by incorporating techniques from Richard J. Schonberger’s World Class Manufacturing, reorganizing assembly setups, and simplifying build processes.

Product Spotlight: SEL-700 Series
Five-day lead times have become standard for highly configurable SEL devices like the SEL-751 Feeder Protection Relay and others in the SEL-700 series. Any of the numerous configuration possibilities can be manufactured in just a few days. This combination of speed and flexibility is crucial. Devices in the SEL-700 series manage diverse applications that often require tailored model options.

The lead time improvement for the SEL-700 series came from a return to World Class Manufacturing culture and its streamlined assembly processes.

SEL-700 series production has become more efficient due to an ongoing project that converts general assembly departments to product-line-based “responsibility centers.” In each responsibility center, a group of assemblers is responsible for not only manufacturing a particular product but also designing and setting up the assembly line for that product. This arrangement gives direct control over product assembly to the people with expertise in actual assembly processes.

With the increased ability to customize and troubleshoot unit production on the spot, quick production times are the natural result.

Product Spotlight: Cables
SEL cable manufacturing also benefits from the simplified build processes. Previously, assemblers shuffled through work-in-progress queues filled with hundreds of cable requests. Now, SEL cables are built by order. Assemblers create all the cables needed for a particular order at the same time.

Being able to get cables on short notice is often important.

“For equipment like relays, customers typically perform a lot of capital budgeting and outage planning, so lead times are less critical,” said Kim Yauchzee, senior operations manager for SEL Sales and Customer Service. “Cables, though, are often missed or needed when they get to performing hands-on work.”

Today, workers needing specific cables can order those cables from SEL and have them available quickly to finish electrical installations. Several popular cable models ship from stock in just two days.

Seeking Continuous Improvement
SEL plans to turn additional product manufacturing lines into responsibility centers in upcoming weeks and months. They are also reviewing other manufacturing techniques to find opportunities to make them simpler, swifter, and even more streamlined.

“World-class manufacturing is not a destination, it is a journey,” said Leith Sorenson, vice president of Manufacturing for SEL.