When Setpoint starts a project we begin with the mindset that we want to make a fair profit even though it doesn’t always work out that way. When you bid a clean sheet design it’s at best an educated guess hoping you are on the high side, if you are lucky and bidding on more than one of the same machine you stand a chance to make up some of your losses from the first one on the following on’s. The first one is your test unit where you find out how close you got with the design.
Once you have the first machine assembled you can see what does and doesn’t work. This is just the way it is, no one can foresee all the issues you will face. So you go back to the drawing board and hope you can fix it with one more try. Now let’s say you have a proven machine that works and you start on the follow-on’s. We had a project where we thought it would take 1998.08 hours to complete; we ended up using 4776.75 hours on the first machine so we went over by 2778.67 hours. The cost of materials was over by $46,735.90 but we still had 3 more to build.
After building the first machine we knew what worked and what didn’t. I set up all the assemblies to be done in sets of 3 to promote the effectiveness of repetitious assembly. So for instance, all 3 lifting assemblies and all 3 pulling assemblies were built at the same time by the same tech. One tech cut the entire conduit for all 3 machines at the same time, while another cut and labeled the wires to be put in the conduit, and others laid out the panels to be wired. We drilled all the holes needed in the frames before anything is put in the way, then we installed the guarding and started putting the completed assemblies on the unit. Getting the order of events down made a big difference. All assemblies that are built with sensors and air lines are labeled and set before it is moved to the unit for installation.
We had minimum debug time due to having done it once already, which makes follow-on’s go much smoother. The start up also went faster because the programmer had worked out all the bugs in the program.
We had a total of 2900 hours to complete all 3 units, and $391,737.50 to purchase all materials, our hours came in at 2573 hours, 327 hours under. The cost of materials was $379,769.01, we were able to save $11,968.49 so all in all not too bad. What made this successful was taking those things that we learned from the first machine and applying them to make the follow-on’s go quickly.