In this case study, we’ll show you how Midea, the world’s largest producer of major appliances, used Visual Components to increase the capacity and flexibility of a high-end washing machine assembly line, while reducing costs by 15%.
The World’s Largest Producer of Major Appliances
Established in 1968 and headquartered in Southern China, the Midea Group is the world’s largest producer of major appliances and #1 brand of air-treatment products, air-coolers, kettles, and rice cookers. Its Laundry Appliances Division includes a Digital Center, which consists of a team of simulation engineers responsible for verifying the product, mold, and equipment designs, as well as robotics, logistics, and factory layouts.
A Unique Project With Complex Demands
In 2018, the Midea Group initiated a project to launch a flexible assembly line producing high-end washing machines. The new assembly line was to be constructed in the Wuxi factory of Midea’s Laundry Appliances Division in Wuxi, China. In addition to producing high-end, high-quality washing machines, Midea wanted the line to be capable of accommodating orders of personalized and customized washing machines. The simulation team was responsible for verifying the designs and layout of the assembly line and providing feedback on how it could be optimized.
While the gross profit margin on these high-end washing machines was higher compared to the washing machines Midea was already producing, the production requirements were more strenuous. There were higher technical control requirements in terms of materials, processes, and finished products. Due to the complex production and scheduling requirements, the assembly line needed to make more use of smart manufacturing capabilities and provide a flexible production capacity.
A unique aspect of this project was that the assembly line needed the capacity to produce more than 10 different product platforms and over 100 SKUs at the same time — all mixed and with their own individual processing times, materials requirements, and quality control procedures. This involved the rearrangement of more than 100 working processes, which were totally different from the mass-production patterns used previously.