As the UK market leader for building management control systems, Trend Control Systems, part of the Honeywell Group of companies, had a major job on their hands launching the next generation of climate control systems for use in high-end hotels and commercial office buildings.
To ensure the smooth-running of the project, the company took the bold decision to partner with Broanmain Plastics to oversee the design and development of 27 individual mould tools and manage the ongoing production of the casing, light pipes, switches and Kanban schedule for its top-range modular IQ4E climate control system.
Following a detailed SWOT analysis, Trend’s in-house mechanical designer worked collaboratively with Broanmain to create 27 injection moulding tools. Once the tool trials were complete, Broanmain commenced producing the numerous components, moulding each part on their fleet of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Systec machines.
As each component making up the IQ4 climate control unit clips together without using screws, moulding precision is paramount. The smallest part – the light pipes – measure just 5mm by 1.5mm. “We worked exceptionally hard to get every part spot on,” comments Peter Light, Supplier Development Engineer at Horsham-based Trend Control Systems.
Printing the terminal information in numerous colours and formats on the injection moulded curved top plate presented additional process challenges. Yet, this was made feasible with the investment in a high quality pad printing system.
Another key challenge for Trend is each of the 40,000 climate control panels shipped annually is made to order, with just a two-day lead time. Given these tight timescales, and with 12 variations of the climate control unit, Peter and the team rely on a simple yet effective Kanban lean manufacturing technique.
Introduced by Broanmain’s Managing Director Wilf Davis, Broanmain creates assembly kits, inserting components into reusable tubs featuring four dividers: “When the crates arrive at Trend, our assembly operatives remove their sub-kit. It makes us more productive as we’re not wasting time looking for components. It also significantly reduces the amount of packaging we throw away.”
Twice weekly, assembly cases are sent back and forth between the two sites, with Broanmain replenishing stock using the Reorder Point Planning (ROP) methodology. “Because our units are made to order, we are unable to forecast. It also means our average daily usage fluctuates. Yet, once it reaches a certain point a replenishment order is triggered,” explains Peter.
Not only does this arrangement negate excess stock inventory for Trend, it also assists Broanmain to batch pad print the outer casing according to the size and variant of the unit. Wilf explains: “Customising the print late in the process means we don’t have to hold stock of all versions and instead can keep a small stock of the base product.” For the smaller components such as the light pipes, Broanmain runs a full bag of material and stores stock on-site, inserting the required number of components into the kits.
The two companies have since collaborated on a new IQ4 feature, developing five tools to address customer demands for a manual on/off switch module that slots into an existing controller. “Broanmain’s team has a great work ethic and it helps having such a proactive moulding supplier on our doorstep that can turnaround components with such a short lead time,” Peter ends.