Two of Norway's largest door/window manufacturers, Gilje and Nordic Door, are collaborating with researchers within these fields, from SINTEF Manufacturing and SINTEF Digital. The Quick Response 4.0 strategy means that the producers will achieve a very high responsiveness and on-time delivery rate, in conjunction with a higher turnover. The companies will be able to increasingly focus on customized manufacturing of high-quality goods, while maintaining low inventory, and mitigating quality non-conformances and environmental footprint. This project aims to consolidate the position of Norwegian small and medium-sized manufacturers as suppliers of exclusive and high-quality goods, on the national and international market.
Many companies have tried to streamline their production by applying Lean methods and tools. Lean principles, such as 'continuous improvement', 'zero waste', 'visual management', and batch size and setup reduction span different production environments. However, several Lean tools are optimal for companies that operate within the low-mix high-volume segment and have stable customer demand. At companies that manufacture most of their products in low volume, the total inventory turnover is very low, and a Lean system like the Kanban/ Supermarket system ('take one, make one') will generate more waste, instead of eliminating it.
Quick Response Production (QRM) is a strategy that can take Lean, Six Sigma and Total Quality Management to the next level, for companies with high customization requirements. In Norway, there are many companies operating in this segment. By help of QRM, many European and international companies have reduced their lead times by up to 90%. At the same time, they have improved product quality and reduced production costs. Universities such as Wisconsin-Madison in the USA and HAN in the Netherlands, as well as the QRM centre in Denmark report such results. As of today, there is little published about QRM in Norway, although several companies are interested in the topic.
Both QRM and Industry 4.0 place special emphasis on streamlining the information flows. Industry 4.0 technologies, such as a user-friendly human-machine interaction platform can facilitate a virtually seamless flow of information throughout the value chain, and thereby digitally enhance a quick response strategy. This project focuses on the following innovation solutions for sustainable development of small and medium-sized manufacturers of customized products to Quick Response and Industry 4.0 levels:
- Method for developing Quick Response 4.0 value chain strategies
- Method for implementing Quick Response 4.0 in factories
- Method for implementing Quick Response 4.0 in warehouses
- Computer-driven human-machine interaction platform for Quick Response 4.0 value chains
- Demos at the industrial companies