Nissan helps Samsung to keep pace

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Samsung’s factory at Middlesbrough, which produces computer screens, features the latest production methods so that it can react instantly to one of the world’s fastest changing markets – each of the seven lines at the plant can produce, test and package a screen every 90 seconds.

The manufacturer also puts much of that production efficiency down to “a lean and mean” logistics operation, which has included a £1.2M investment in a goods inwards extension as well as a move to 17 Nissan lift trucks.

With six production lines at the Middlesbrough site dedicated to traditional CRT screens and one for TFT flat screens, Samsung makes its own computers and for other leading manufacturers, and claims to have a quarter of the entire VDU market. Apart from the UK, production at Middlesbrough is destined for Europe, Russia, the US and Middle East.

Doug Binks, divisional accountant at Nissan Forklift, says: “Remaining competitive in these rapidly changing markets is all about constantly reviewing our methods. That’s a balancing act between components we source, those we make ourselves, how much stock we’re willing to hold and the length of the supply chain.”

Every components delivery is timed strictly to coincide with a rigid production schedule. Cabinets and packaging materials such as boxes and polystyrene cushions are sourced locally while screens, printed circuit boards and power supplies are imported from Samsung’s own plants in the Far East. Just-in-time delivery must be guaranteed.

The new goods inwards extension has helped to streamline deliveries of components and packaging materials, with the least distance travelled between unloading and the production lines. The extension comprises 14 delivery bays, with ten at one end of the warehouse to receive components and four at the opposite end allocated to receipt of packaging materials. Deliveries are made by a constant procession of lorries, which are offloaded by the Nissan fleet of mainly three- and four-wheel electric models – supplied by Nissan distributor Carrylift Group and specified for their ability to work single or double shifts to meet demand.

Every load to the four packaging materials bays are used in just 30 minutes of production so two Nissan trucks work permanently to remove materials from transport and transfer the loads to trolleys which are wheeled to the lines – one trolley load is needed every three minutes.

The ten bays at the opposite end receive a lorryload of 44 pallets every 40 minutes. Three Nissan forklifts strip down the loads and have just six minutes to feed components to the lines as production uses one tube every nine seconds.

The lift truck fleet also receives seven daily deliveries of printed board circuits. Each load, which comprises 3,500 boards, is transferred to short-term warehousing.

Outgoing goods rely on the guaranteed uptime of the lift trucks to keep finished stocks of computer screen to a minimum. Three-wheel electric Nissan NO1 clamp trucks remove cartons from the end of the line and stack them in eight high rows. Feeding 45 40ft lorryloads a day, the trucks must handle 18 boxes every 90 seconds.

The Middlesbrough facility has been developed to consolidate operations from three other Samsung plants, including annual production of more than one million microwave ovens which the Nissan trucks also handle.

With contracts coming to term on the lift trucks transferred from previous sites, Samsung plans further consolidation. Binks says: “One supplier is probably the ideal scenario. It would mean an on-site engineer who could carry out daily checks and maintenance right across the board, better financial arrangements, more flexibility to move trucks between production, and far better fleet management information.”

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