In my last post I looked at how to reduce product variants, and the inevitable conflict with sales. In this post I will look at how to reduce not the number of final products, but the number of part types that go into the final product… and here you often have a conflict with product development. However, like the reduction of the number of final products, this reduction in fluctuation has significant benefits for the company.
Product variants drive up cost. The more variants you have for the same quantity sold, the higher your production cost. Inversely, if you can reduce your number of variants, you can reduce your cost. In this post I will give you some general suggestions on how to reduce your number of variants. Hopefully these inspire and help you to become more efficient.
This is the third and last post in my series on how to reduce the lot size. The first post gave some introduction and how to approach the problem of reducing lot sizes. The second post looked in more detail at how to reduce lot sizes due to changeovers, container size, and shipment size. This final post will look at the remaining causes of customer order size, machine batch size, the abominable leveling pattern, and tradition.
In my last post I gave some basics on how to reduce the lot size in order to reduce both inventory and fluctuations (mura). There are many different reasons why you may have larger lot sizes in the first place. Depending on the root cause, the possible solution may differ. In this and the next post I will look at these different root causes and possible solutions in more detail.
In lean, the perfect lot size is one. Ideally, you should be able to make your products in a lot size of one. However, especially in mass production, larger lot sizes are common. Getting down to smaller lot sizes, or ideally to a lot size of one, is not always easy, and sometimes may not even be economically feasible (yet!). Let me discuss ways to reduce lot sizes.
In a recent discussion on setting up a new line, a question came up: Should we make a single line (or generally a production system), or should we establish two (or even more) separate independent production lines? There are usually a handful of arguments for either side, and cost is only one of them. Sometimes the issue is clear, but sometimes you have to judge the different factors to decide. This post will give you an overview of the different factors that are relevant. Let’s dig a little bit deeper on how to approach this issue.
I am a strong believer in the advantage of flow shops. To me, job shops are an inherently chaotic system. While there are ways to manage job shops, these are merely (more or less) successful attempts to put a Band-Aid on the chaos. To me, only a conversion to a flow shop will bring underlying stability. In this post I would like to give you both historic and current examples of successful conversions from a job shop to a flow shop.
In my last post I looked at strategies to manage changeover sequencing if your supplier gives you trouble. Basically, you can sometimes reduce the damage by fine-tuning the prioritization (i.e., by using the limited raw materials to make the most important parts). This second post in this series looks at similar situations if your customer acts up, or if your own system makes problems. In other words, after discussing “source” in the last article, we now look at the “make” and “deliver” part. Admittedly, some of the approaches are similar to the problems with “source.”