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Prepare for One Piece Flow Manufacturing for Robust Production and Operational Excellence

Sanat Sankrityayan 2015-10-03

lean manufacturing pune

Isolated Islands of Production facility may build up within a factory over time. We must keep on curing the creation of a monument within a process anywhere in the factory. Any pocket of excellence must be linked with the overall flow of the Customer Deliveries and not because the process is very efficient. We have seen Inventory building up at certain processes, because the cycle time is very less, and all the other processes waiting even for their Input. This is not right! Is it??

We recommend looking at the same production facility from a new paradigm, as if we are learning to see. The Inventory is seen as an asset by the company, whereas it is a Muda, where our Capital is blocked without giving any return on it. Therefore, before we focus on optimizing the Inventory, we need to upgrade the way we see things around, i.e. Change the Paradigm. Above all, it is the Customer who pays us for the Value it needs.

We are talking about the One Piece Flow Manufacturing here. One Piece Flow is the best evolved way of making products that is Value Adding to the Customer. How do we see One Piece? A piece that is complete by all means in terms of the Value described by the Customer. This may be tricky in the beginning, however, the more we delve in to the implementation techniques, the definition gets progressively better. One Piece Flow is also known as Single Piece Flow, or Customized Piece Flow.

Implementation Principles of Single Piece Flow are:

  1. Base the cycle time (CT) on market requirements i.e. known as Tact Time
  2. Base equipment capacity utilization on cycle time, and rolled throughput yield
  3. Focus on the production going on at the assembly processes and consequently, align the auxiliary and tertiary processes with it. The production line should consist mainly of single-operator U-shaped cells. The production line should clearly distinguish between material input and product output.
  4. Factory layout must be conducive to one-piece flow of material, in and out of the factory. The factory must include clear pathways.
  1. Improvement in Layout is about Machine Operations, Material Flow and Material Handling. Layout Change from Process Village to Product Line should follow Cell Design, or Create Factory Within Factory.

Five specific tools are necessary for assessing and planning for an improved one-piece-flow process:

1. PQ analysis table (P=Products, Q=Quantity of Production output)

2. Process route table

3. Process Capacity Matrix

4. Standard Work Combination Chart

5. Workflow diagram

Designing Pull principles in the Production Planning is vital for getting the right input and timely output. The variation in the Customer Order is balanced by adding a Production Preparation Process known as Mizusumashi.

It is also known as a Water Spider that runs an errand of filling assembly lines and moving material to dispatch. The objective is to quicken the flow of materials on the Value Adding Process, making the Single Piece Flow.

What moves on the shop floor is the labor, however, what must be moving is the Information and Material. When we map the Non Value Adding and Value Adding Components of the Work happening, then we come to realize the waste in the processes. It is not only the Manufacturing firms that experience it, rather the transnational firms are implementing these concepts more than ever.

In Retail Industry, the showroom and the godown are designed on the principles of Kanban that is two bin system. When a Shirt is sold at the Showroom, one Shirt is brought from the Godown (STORE) to the Showroom. Every material coming out of the Godown, is ordered to the verified Supplier where the supplier has a Kanban Bin ready for dispatch.

The readiness of the Supplier is an indicator of stable communication process and ordering system. One may use Quadra, Siebel, Oracle or SAP but what matters is the right communication for maintaining continuous flow of orders.

One Piece Flow can and always be done in all Processes. Service Industries have taken it up in Great Spirit, the testimonial to its success is the Single Window Clearance in all Banks. When we talk about reducing the Touch Points of the Service Flow, we are really talking about a robust, error-free and leak-proof Process.

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