Vestas is the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines with facilities the world over. One of its manufacturing problems common to many companies is the disconnect between those responsible for introducing new technology and processes, and those using them. This can mean numerous iterations of roll out plans before reaching a workable understanding.
To address this, the company established a ‘Prototype Team’ – a dedicated group of technicians to validate new products and processes. The team provides a link between the Production Business Unit and the shop floor, testing new products and processes and providing feedback.
To ensure the team had the right skills, Vestas put them through a range of training courses, including the National Physical Laboratory’s (NPL) Dimensional Measurement training.
This is helping the team evaluate new technologies and processes, and identify the best ones for the job and how to implement them. The training has given them the confidence to make full reports and recommendations back to company engineers. This helps iron out problems and ensures that new approaches are rolled out to the shop floor seamlessly.
Another positive outcome has been cost savings. There is much less need to observe processes in other offices before implementing them.
“The course started with the basics – which even for those with considerable experience was a good exercise in highlighting preconceptions that needed to be challenged – then built up to the more detailed in-depth measurement issues,” says Vestas Team Leader Trevor Corsham. “The course provided the right mix of theory and practice to make it interesting right from the start.”
Another benefit of the training was that it gave participants a common language with engineers. “When you’re in a production environment and presented with a drawing, it introduces challenges that must be dealt with. If you then come across problems you can’t solve, it can seriously hold up production. This training lets us fully understand the designs and lay out the right approach for the shop floor, or go back to the designer and work with them to resolve any problems. It’s about breaking down silos and creating a level footing between the shop floor and the rest of the business,” says Corsham.
“We established the team to ensure we could take advantage of new technologies and processes and implement them with minimal disruption,” says James Luter, Director of the Prototype facility. Understanding measurement is key to understanding and validating how these changes can benefit the business. NPL’s training lets us rigorously evaluate new ideas, identify where they can save time and money, deliver increased value to customers, and roll them out quickly and effectively.”
National Physical Lab
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