CASE STUDY – LMI Aerospace Delivers Operational Excellence While Managing Volatile Demand

VIMANA's IoT Solutions for Smart Manufacturing: Asset Performance Management, Workforce Productivity and Performance, Lean Processes.

Company Background

LMI Aerospace fabricates, machines, finishes, and assembles close tolerance aluminum, specialty alloy, and composite components. They are a member of the Sonaca Group, an organization active in developing, manufacturing, and assembling advanced structures for the civil, military, and space markets. With a focus on giving customers a competitive advantage, they provide cost-effective solutions for complex problems with an integrated approach that ensures complete customer satisfaction.

Challenge

LMI Aerospace was facing continued pressure to manage volatile demand. They needed to ensure operational excellence during peak demand to ensure the fulfillment of customer orders on schedule. Then, market conditions changed, and they experienced downward trends in demand requiring a rapid response to improving efficiency and reducing costs. LMI accelerated its use of digital technology and advanced analytics to manage and respond to this demand variability.

Solution

Advanced Analytics Enabled Operational Excellence During High Demand

As customer demand grew, it became increasingly difficult to fulfill orders on schedule. Certain inconsistencies in performance across machines and operators significantly impacted product throughput, leading to late deliveries, delayed schedules, and additional hours of operation to fulfill customer demand.

VIMANA Smart Manufacturing Analytics Application significantly increased shop floor visibility. VIMANA connected and collected real-time data from legacy and digital assets and provided insight into part throughput and cycle times. As a result, on-time delivery improved.

LMI Aerospace implemented a lean improvement project to assess whether running jobs individually or coupling multiple jobs together would significantly improve productivity. Using VIMANA’s big data analytics they uncovered that the day shift ran at 85% while coupling jobs and 75% when running jobs individually. As part of the lean improvement project, duplicate activities were eliminated, such as walking to the crane and scanner, entering tool lengths, and spinning holes, which provided time savings during part setup.

In contrast, the night shift ran at 50% regardless of whether it was coupling jobs or running individually. Night shift operators were not prioritizing machine performance as consistently as day shift operators. The LMI team concluded that coupling jobs would be effective only if the operator prioritized machine performance and throughput. In summary, VIMANA Elevate, provided the data-driven insight they used to revise standard processes. Operators were required to have the next part setup ready ahead of time. Supervisors monitored operators’ performance closely.

Advanced Analytics Enabled Operational Excellence During Demand Contraction

With recent market demand changes, it became essential to streamline operations, drive efficiency, and reduce costs. VIMANA’s analytics informed decision making and enabled them to respond to demand pressure.

LMI had an enhanced focus on workforce safety, rapid planning, and scheduling agility. VIMANA brought visibility and deep insight into operator and shift performance which helped to drive accountability and enabled dynamic production planning adjustments. VIMANA’s advanced analytics identified bottlenecks and waste. As a result, LMI leaned processes, reduced excessive labor and operational costs. Using VIMANA to guide streamlining the operation was essential to delivering high-quality products while remaining competitive in the industry.

Systems Integration Enabled Accurate Costing

At first, the data models used to quote customer jobs did not reflect the actual time and cost to produce parts. However, it became critical to understand real manufacturing costs to provide competitive quotes and remain profitable. By integrating and automating the ‘actual’ producing time into the SAP pricing quote generator, LMI Aerospace can use real-time data to adjust pre-existing cost models to develop accurate pricing more easily. VIMANA’s analytics provided the IoT data to dynamically define the actual number of parts produced, part cycle time, cost per machining hour, and total part cost. This provided a better understanding of manufacturing costs and delivered more accurate quotes.

Business Outcomes

Using VIMANA’s Smart Manufacturing Analytics, LMI Aerospace:

  • Aligned labor and resource to demand with insight into workforce performance.
  • Increased asset utilization by 13%, resulting in improved on-time delivery.
  • Improved competitive win rate with accurate quotes based on actual machining time.

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