New 50,000-sq.ft. Assembly Center More Than Doubles TALOS’ Conveyor Production Speed
With the huge jump in e-commerce over the past 18 months, our retail fulfillment customers have been keeping us extra busy. TALOS Engineered Products is blessed that our products — including powered belt conveyor used in parcel handling — are in such high demand.
As TALOS has continued to grow, so too have the demands on our assembly department. I took over the department eight years ago, and even then, our growth trajectory was heading upward dramatically. In fact, we quickly maxed out the capacity of our original 4,000-sq.ft. assembly center, housed in the same building as our Lewisburg, Tennessee headquarters, not long after I took over.
To accommodate our continued growth and also to better serve TALOS’ customers, we recently relocated our assembly process into a different, 50,000-sq.ft. location just a few miles away this past summer. The facility was previously the home of our new product development and testing center. Now it holds both assembly processing and our warehousing and shipping departments. Currently, half of the building — approximately 25,000-sq.ft. — is dedicated to conveyor assembly.
Because of the limited space in our previous assembly location, our production output capacity was limited to around 40 conveyor units per week. In our new area we will be able to more than double that output to 100 conveyors per week. This increase in productivity will significantly reduce customer delivery times.
There are several reasons for our higher output.
- First, the additional square footage allowed us to add more assembly cells. For example, before we only had one cell each for drives and end idlers (the small drives used at the end of a conveyor section). In the new space we now have four drive cells, two end idler cells, and an additional cell that can be flexibly converted to handle customizations or overflow work.
- Second, with the addition of more assembly cells and more overall space, we were able to hire more skilled technicians — and we still have openings for at least two dozen more. This allows us to assemble more conveyors at one time.
- Third, the much larger warehousing space allows us to stock more parts and components than ever before. With more components stored on-site and available as needed, we can quickly complete more finished conveyors without needing to wait for frequent replenishments from our suppliers.
Although we’re now settled into our new space, the assembly team hasn’t stopped looking for ways to become even more efficient. As part of our continuous improvement program, we’ve listened to our colleagues and implemented new workflows, organizational systems, and tools that help them do their jobs better and deliver an even higher quality product.
For example, we’ve integrated five overhead bridge cranes for lifting, manipulating, and transporting work-in-process — and we have space to add at least three more. TALOS’ assemblers asked for this technology as a replacement for the pivoting jib cranes we used previously. The bridge cranes can handle more weight and offer greater range of movement and coverage through the facility. This helps speed the assembly process as a conveyor moves through the plant.
Additionally, for better organization and faster location of tools, we’ve replaced our old toolboxes with shadow boards. They make it much easier to find what’s needed and see what’s missing. We’ve also invested in precision mechanical pulse tools that enable us to torque all the hardware on our equipment with less physical effort. All of these new capabilities have further boosted our assembly team’s productivity.
But we’re not done yet. We’re also currently working on a separate assembly line for our new baggage handling conveyor products that we expect to launch by the end of 2021. Overall, the new facility has given us a great opportunity to innovate within our own processes so we can continue to help our customers solve their material handling problems. We’re excited to keep learning and growing in our new assembly center.
Assembly Production Supervisor