Can You Plan Around Your Fluctuations?

Abstract Wave MoleculeBalancing the need of high material availability with low inventory is tricky. Pull systems are a very good way to achieve this. But sometimes people argue with me that planning can be better if you use all the available information to create a production plan which then outperforms a pull system. In theory, this could work, but in practice it rarely does. After all, that is what conventional push systems are trying to achieve, usually with mediocre results. Let’s have a look.

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What Is True North in Lean?

True NorthLean manufacturing often talks about true north. This is the direction in which your operations should move to become better. Sometimes that may be a bit fuzzy, so let’s have a look at what true north could include.

I am fully aware that reaching true north in all aspects is unrealistic. If you actually reached true north, there would be nothing left to improve… which goes against my beliefs in manufacturing. You can always get better! Hence, achieving the list below is not realistic. But hey, as I am writing this, it is almost Christmas, and it is okay to make a wish! I hope that this unrealistic list helps you to get closer to true north in at least some aspects.

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Flexible Manpower Lines 4 – How-To do Flexible Manpower Lines

This is the final post in this series on flexible manpower lines. Since we completed the example line in the last post, I will give you a brief theoretical run-down on how to divide the work among multiple people. I will also show you some easier-to-manage but maybe not-quite-as-efficient alternative options, the bucket brigade and the rabbit chase

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Flexible Manpower Lines 3 – Example Line

Flexible Manpower Line 3 OperatorsThis third post in the series continues with the example on flexible manpower lines. Now we will investigate different options for these flexible manpower lines (also called Shoujinka 少人化). I will show you the details on all options between a single operator and the (sensible) maximum of six operators, and why for our example it does not make sense to use four or five operators.

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Flexible Manpower Lines 2 – Alternatives and Example

Flexible Manpower Line 2 OperatorsHaving a flexible manpower line is a good way to adjust the production capacity to changing demand while still keeping your system leveled. In this second post in my series on flexible manpower lines, I give you some alternatives before going into more details of an example line that we will set up for different numbers of operators in the next few posts.

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Flexible Manpower Lines 1 – Introduction

Flexible Manpower Line 1 OperatorProduction lines with manual labor often have the possibility of adjusting manpower due to demand. Such flexible manpower lines can work with different staff numbers, and can adjust the production output to the customer demand. At Toyota, such lines are also called Shoujinka (少人化, literally “few people production”). A gender neutral term would be “flexible staffing line”. This blog post will go into the details on how to set up such a line.

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