The Rapid Response Cell (RRC), Win-Win for Everyone

The Rapid Response Cell (RRC), Win-Win for Everyone

One frustration that rapid prototyping shops manage is production inefficiencies. When clients need a prototype run quickly, long-run fabrication is held

Sheet Metal Fabrication and CNC machining services shops, just like all companies, deal with all manner of problems. The obstacles could be made up of the following: maintaining superior goods, staying fairly priced, satisfying acceptable delivery schedules, keeping abreast of schooling and technology - to mention a few. Some sheet metal fabrication and CNC machine shops like Decimet Sales Inc. (DSI), located in Rogers, a city in the Minneapolis, MN area, provide a business service called rapid prototyping. Rapid Prototyping is a rapid-fabrication or machining procedure that employs computer aided design professionals and industrial Computer Numerical Control machines or sheet metal fabrication equipment to create a physical product in a quicker timeframe.

One frustration that rapid prototyping shops manage is production inefficiencies. When clients need a prototype fabricated quickly, long-duration fabrication setups may have to be interrupted to make room for a rapid prototyping manufacturing project. When that occurs, set-up time for the prototyping work and costs as well as scheduling conflicts certainly will increase. Frustration levels also escalate due to the fact that the people operating the machines must stop the long-running productivity, re-tool the machining or fabrication aperatus and get them set up for the prototype work. After that is finished, they have to tear them down and set them back up again to finish the long-run projects. This is a tedious and exasperating place to be because now the long-running project might not be completed on-time or on-budget. Quality, workmanship, and lead times may also be affected. Furthermore, other customer jobes on the line may not be completed on-time and/or on-budget. This means a decrease in client satisfaction, a decrease in sales volume and reduced margins.

Short- and Long-Run Productivity Problems

What should a sheet metal fabricating and CNC machining shop do to escape those discouraging issues described above? At DSI, we set up what is called a Rapid Response Cell (RRC). RRC was established to be an independent work cell with dedicated machines and operators used for short-running productivity and prototyping work while long-run productivity remains undisturbed.

First, the RRC was established as an answer to extensive scheduling issues in the fabrication department due to pausing long-run jobs, to enable prototypes and short-running production to be completed. To continue, we needed to eradicate the extra time and costs needed to re-tool a machine to prepare it for the short-run work. We really wanted to have a method for us to accomplish each type of job easily at the same time while staying mindful of costs in both production types.

Furthermore, prior to the Rapid Response Cell, we experienced conditions in which we were not able to get correct start and end times because of the continual interruptions that were caused by prototype, re-work, or short-run jobs. Those situations began generating uncontrollable delivery dates. We were unable to satisfy our clients to the measure that we support.

As scheduling conflicts escalated, our owners, engineers, managers and personnel at DSI united as a team to think of solutions on how to productively correct the conflicts without causing additional ones later down the road. There were a handful of great ideas from every area of our business and because of them, we all agreed that the RRC was our best choice.

The Rapid Response Cell Setup

The RRC is laid out in a specialized section of the shop – one cell in the fab shop and one in the machine shop. Jobs that have a less than 1 week due date, and less than 50 pieces or parts that require re-working are directed to the RRC by way of a special designation in the project order. Labor hours are valued at the same as other cells, providing clients a further reason to use the RRC. If there are no RRC work orders to do, the cell performs at normal production. The RRC can also be used for trial activities, one-off jobs, examining different productivity practices or for employee testing.

The fabrication RRC employs a Miller Dynasty 400 TIG welder. This is a top-of-the-line flagship TIG welding machine. With 400 AMP AC/DC, pulse, wave form and frequency adjustments, wireless foot pedal and water cooled torch, the welder can manage all metal fabrication prototyping work that comes within the shop. The fabrication RRC also employs a 60-ton AccuPress Press Brake, Model 7606 with the Advantage Package, a Haeger Model 618 Plus PEM machine equipped with Auto-feeder, and a 3,000-Watt Mazak Optiplex Champion Fiber Laser Cutter.

The CNC machining RRC uses a VF-2 SS Haas high speed milling machine, a Mazak twin turret, twin spindle lathe, grinders, a small drill press and an inspection table. All these perform great for prototype work in the machining department.

The RRC has two full-time operators that manage the cells continuously, and additional help can be appointed as needed. Both RRCs are situated beside shipping which helps to expedite the shipping process. With this plan, dedicated machinery, and specialized manpower, our RRCs are perfectly outfitted to complete and ship all 1-week turnaround projects.

Results of the Rapid Response Cell

Since the setup of the Rapid Response Cell, Decimet Sales is realizing very quick growth. We have eliminated all the distractions and interruptions in long-run jobs. Customers are now extremely content because they have been obtaining prototype jobs faster and allocating more prototyping, metal fab and CNC machining jobs to DSI. "Tension levels have subsided tremendously" says Troy Brake, Operation Manager at DSI. "All is running very well because of the high RRC visibility." Now when the workforce see the RRC prefix in the work number, they simply route it to the RRC knowing that they can continue their regular, long-run production work without sacrificing time and quality. "DSI should have established the RRC 6 months earlier" added Troy. "We would have achieved more growth and success and a boost to our profits."

Rapid Response Cell Win-Win For Everyone

Decimet Sales has the machinery and workers available that can be dedicated to the Rapid Response Cell manner of productivity. We hold the method to maximize project efficiencies. Long-running production jobs no longer need to be stopped to make way for prototyping projects. Rapid prototype jobs can be completed quickly due to dedicated RRC machinery and skilled workers. Tension levels have been diminished and same with scheduling issues. In a nutshell, RRC equals more production efficiency in a shorter time frame and that is a gain for every one. Contact Decimet Sales Inc at for more information about the RRC.