How IKEA Uses Drones for Inventory Management

In my last post I went a bit into the theory of where drones in manufacturing may be applicable. They are not really for transport, but there is a possibility to use drones to gather data – provided you don’t need an expensive pilot and there are preferably no workers around on which a drone could crash. In this post I would like to show you the use of drones at IKEA. This is pretty much the only case I know that is not a mere trial, test, showcase, or example, but an actual beneficial implementation that receives a wide roll-out, with dozens of warehouses and stores either already having drones or planned to receive drones soon. Many thanks to Omid Maghazei for the information and details, see source below.

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Drones in Manufacturing

A discussion of fancy new technology would be incomplete without mentioning drones. A simple Google search for “drone and manufacturing” returns around 72 million results. There is definitely a lot of buzz on drones and manufacturing. However, you probably have not yet seen a drone in manufacturing. This is because there are indeed very few cases of drones in manufacturing, and most of them are trial runs that never make it into regular production. Let’s have a look at what this is all about!

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Relation between Quantity and Cost in Manufacturing

Cost Volume See SawAs you surely know, it is more efficient to produce larger quantities. This is the economy of scale. In a recent post I talked about the Power of Six, a rule of thumb for the relation between lead time and cost. In this post I will show you a rule of thumb for the relation between quantity and cost. Credit for this rule goes to Juan Carlos Viela.

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What Is POLCA?

POLCA stands for Paired-Cell Overlapping Loops of Cards with Authorization and was developed by Rajan Suri around 1990. It is sometimes mentioned alongside kanban and CONWIP as a production control system. Let me explain to you how POLCA works. In my next post I look at the pros and cons of POLCA. In my last post of this mini-series, I will show you the calculation for the number of POLCA cards, including some critical comments.

The similar-sounding word Polka is also a Czech dance music and textile pattern, hence the colorful illustration of the polka dots on the left (don’t worry, more technical diagrams will follow below).

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How to Deal With Long Delivery Times

Lean has a bunch of advanced but good tools for material delivery, like Just in Time, Just in Sequence, and Ship to Line. Using them is much easier on short distances and with short delivery times. Yet, sometimes you just don’t have the option of short delivery times. This blog post deals with the issues related to long lead times and delivery times.

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What to Do with SMED: Reduce Lot Size or Increase Work Time?

SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die) is a very useful tool to reduce changeover time. Reducing changeover time will free up time for other uses. Western management often wants to use this time to produce more goods. However, the rule of thumb at Toyota is to use this newly available time to do more changeovers rather than more products. This increase in changeover has the potential to significantly reduce the lot size, which often has much larger benefits than the additional work time. In this blog post I want to look in more detail at this relation between changeover duration, productivity, and lot size.

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