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Keiper Watches Production Like a Hawk
Keiper GmbH & Co. KG is a leading manufacturer of the metal components of car seats. The company runs 11 production sites scattered around the world and employs 6,000 workers. Keiper struggles with the common challenges facing all international manufacturing businesses. One of its largest problems is synchronizing production across manufacturing plants separated by many miles and time zones.
A few years ago, Keiper made the wise move to connect its production sites over the Internet using production management software. The software allowed system specialists and production managers at Keiper headquarters in Kaiserslautern, Germany, to monitor production systems at all 11 sites. This ability made all the difference in the world to Keiper’s production quality. Managers can troubleshoot problems as they arise, upgrade system software, and make database entries at the same time across all locations. In short, the system made it seem as though the 11 production facilities were actually one big manufacturing plant.
More recently, Keiper upgraded the system to allow it to react to emergencies more quickly. One of the biggest problems in manufacturing occurs when flaws are introduced into the process. Flaws might be the result of a defective part received from a supplier and used on the assembly line. Sometimes these defects are not noticed until many products have been manufactured and shipped. Keiper wanted a traceability system so it could track the car seat components and assembled car seats through the production line to their destinations.
Keiper partnered with an information system company that specialized in traceability systems for the automotive industry. The company designed a system that collected and connected information from production facilities around the world. The information included specific information about the parts used in the manufacturing process. The system tracked each step in the production process at all 11 manufacturing plants in real time. If an employee on the line notices that a certain type of screw is defective, an alarm is sounded and an investigation immediately launched. The defective screw is traced back to the batch from which it came. Each screw used from that batch is traced to a specific seat in the production line, shipment center, or automotive plant where the cars are assembled. Recalls of seats containing the bad screw can occur within hours of the discovery.
Using MISs to control production lines around the world provides Keiper management with more control over its business. The ability to quickly catch defects in its products minimizes the extent of the damage they cause. Keiper customers appreciate the corporation’s ability to minimize problems before they grow to an unmanageable scope.
1. What is one of the biggest production challenges facing global manufacturing corporations?
2. How did Keiper management gain more control over its 11 manufacturing facilities?
1. What type of management information system does Keiper use, and what functional unit of the company is it designed for?
2. What information components do you think were used in Keiper’s new traceability system?