Sweepers go with the flow

Johnston Sweepers in Sittingbourne, Kent has discovered the worth of applying lean principles to the design as well as the manufacturing of its narrow width road sweepers, as they convert from batch to flow line production


Established back in 1905, the company used to manufacture each machine in two cells, one for the chassis and one for finishing off, but increased order volumes required the change to flow line manufacturing, where the machines are moved by crane from bay to bay and then by pushing when they have wheels on. However, dividing up the tasks into equal time segments has required reducing the time of some of the stages, which meant looking at such matters as why there were two hydraulic tanks when there only really needed to be one, and ensuring that parts go together without fitter work, according to production manager John Spain.

Simplifying design of these surprisingly complex and sophisticated machines to cut assembly times has cut costs and helped the business remain competitive. Spain acknowledged the help the company has had from the Manufacturing Advisory Service, which is mostly free. The company’s success was revealed during a networking visit organised by the Chartered Quality Institute.

Tom Shelley

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