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Managing and improving robot spot welding efficiency: a benchmarking study

Raed El-Khalil (School of Business ITOM, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon)

Benchmarking: An International Journal

ISSN: 1463-5771

Article publication date: 29 April 2014

706

Abstract

Purpose

The paper presents a benchmarking analysis that investigates the efficiency gap in relation to spot welding robots in automotive body shops at foreign and domestic companies in North America. The main purpose of this paper is to determine body shop efficiency improvement opportunities for the domestic companies or the Big Three, therefore reducing the competitive gap and improving business performance.

Design/methodology/approach

The following paper is an extension of an earlier dissertation study conducted by EL-Khalil that focused on improving body shop overall efficiency. The Harbour Report was utilized to determine the best in class facilities that must be visited for benchmarking purposes. The data and information presented were obtained from the facilities visited through observations and interviews. The research utilized the corresponding facilities' labs in order to perform measurements and inspect product welding efficiency. The data obtained were a result of a two-year benchmarking study.

Findings

The inspection results of spot welds applied on the door flange do not justify the utilization of additional spot welding arm designs and/or robots for the domestic companies. The data presented provide a good opportunity for improving business performance at the body shop Big Three facilities. In order to reduce the current competitive gap, decrease cost, and improve utilization, the Big Three must adopt new strategies (i.e. communization of specific vehicles parts).

Research limitations/implications

The benchmarking study was limited to the aperture area. Researchers are encouraged to test the propositions further on different types of vehicles and different areas of the vehicle body.

Practical implications

Based on the actual findings, this paper presents a case that impacts the improvements of the body shop overall performance in relation to reducing the number of spot welding arm and robot designs at the automotive industry in North America.

Originality/value

The presented gap analysis on body shop spot welding efficiency for automotive companies in North America was not conducted previously. Therefore, the data can be utilized as a benchmark target to drive improvements at the domestic automotive body shops.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The work presented was partially funded by Chrysler LLC. The author would like to thank Chrysler LLC and Mr Frank Ewasyshyn, previous Executive Vice President at Chrysler LLC, for supporting this project. In addition, the author would like to thank the BIJ reviewers for their comments, remarks and recommendations.

Citation

El-Khalil, R. (2014), "Managing and improving robot spot welding efficiency: a benchmarking study", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 344-363. https://doi.org/10.1108/BIJ-05-2012-0035

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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