Industrial Scientific Corporation solves space and production problems with carousels

Jan. 1, 2009
This case history about Industrial Scientific Corporation comes courtesy of Hnel. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity,

This case history about Industrial Scientific Corporation comes courtesy of Hänel. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.

Industrial Scientific Corporation, Oakdale, Pennsylvania, is the industry leader in portable gas detection and a major manufacturer of fixed point gas detection systems.

Industrial Scientific helps monitor safe conditions in work areas for industries ranging from oil, mining and waste management to fire departments, breweries, chicken farms - even outer space. The space shuttle and every manned space craft uses ISC monitors.

The company has been growing at a phenomenal rate of 20 to 30% a year. This presented a difficult challenge for the production department which was eased, in part, by increased storage capacity and organization from Hanel Storage Systems.

Addressing the problem.

According to Vince Schreiner, SMT Coordinator, the company was using mobile carts to supply parts to the production area. At its rate of growth, manufacturing would have soon required a new building if something was not done.

Industrial Scientific looked at several solutions to storage:
considered expanding its existing system of mobile carts

analyzed high bay storage

analyzed various automated systems such as Hanel

The company decided that automation provided the most benefits. It arranged with Hanel to conduct a pilot study using one vertical carousel. ISC personnel considered space, inventory and productivity. Vince Schreiner and his crew discovered that the 200 to 300 square feet of floor space which had been consumed by mobile carts was reduced by the Hanel to just 67 square feet. Inventory control was handled nicely by the Hanel MP12 processor using Hanel CIM software. To top it all off, the Rotomat produced a payback in less than a year. Based on these results, Industrial Scientific decided to add another unit to manufacturing and three additional machines in other areas.

Hanel Rotomat Carousels provide flow to manufacturing.

ISC uses a two-carousel system in a very effective way. The No.1 machine offers free and ready access of parts to all workers and supports day-to-day manufacturing. The No. 2 machine is equipped with Hanel CIM software to monitor inventory. It counts numbers of parts in and out and supports day-to-day inventory control.

Since Vince is responsible for managing inventory, he appreciates the benefits of the CIM software package. The system lets him know when inventory of an item is down to the last reel. This tracking method gives him ample time to respond. Vince is also impressed with what he calls the second line support syndrome, i.e. CIM supports running two different assembly lines at once. One line is used for high volume production. The other line is used for prototyping and limited manufacturing runs.

The total volume of parts stored in the two Rotomats includes over 1000 different part numbers with a total part count of 6 to 10 million pieces at all times.

Workers are pleased that they can work at their own pace and method. With the Hanel system, there is no right or wrong way to access parts. Workers can use the scanner, key in codes or hand pick parts from the free and ready access machine. The CIM controlled machine has already accounted for inventory.

Having free access to parts allows manufacturing changeovers to be made substantially easier. During a typical day a line might change over 3 or more times. According to Bob Reese, Lead Technician, "Manufacturing setups that traditionally took 4 hours were reduced to about 20 minutes, that's efficiency."

Rotomats ease pressure in other departments.

When manufacturing sensitive electronic devices at a zero tolerance for defects, test fixtures become very important items. ISC stores between 60 and 70 test fixtures in this Rotomat. The carousel provides easy access and a clean, limited dust environment for the instruments.

The forth machine supports the work cell for manufacturing the stationary, non-portable gas detector products. And the fifth Hanel carousel is in the post assembly area, housing kitted parts and providing general storage.

The deciding factor.

Industrial Scientific thoroughly analyzed other storage systems before deciding on Hanel. In fact, ISC was not going to purchase an automated storage system until they discovered Hanel. Hanel Storage Systems was the only manufacturer to meet ISC's demand for storage flexibility. When we asked Vince Schreiner what unique benefit influenced the decision, he said, "In a word - adjustability. We didn't have to permanently weld storage shelves. We could adapt the unit configuration to our ongoing needs." This has proven to be a real benefit since4 of the 5 carousels have been adjusted for various reasons. welcomes relevant, exclusive case histories that explain in specific detail the business benefits that new software and material-handling equipment has provided to specific users. Send submissions to Mary Aichlmayr([email protected]), MHM Editor. All submissions will be edited for clarity, content and style.