Reducing Lead Time 1 – Inventory

Supermarket CheckoutLead time is a key factor for customer satisfaction, especially with make-to-order production. Hence, many companies want to reduce this lead time. In this blog post I show you the basic levers that influence your lead time, and a few more that may also apply to some cases. You have to find the combination of these levers that works best for you. This is the first post in a series of four posts on how to reduce lead time. Most of the series focuses on production, but the last post looks into reduction of lead time in development.

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The Baton Touch Flow Line

Relay Race Hand OverThe baton touch is probably the easiest way to do multi-machine handling in a line. This ease-of-use makes it a very popular approach for the assignment of the operators in a line. An operator is in charge of a fixed set of processes. The operator always repeats the same loop of processes. Multiple operators, each with their fixed assignment of processes, work on a production line together. It is quite simple.

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Reducing Fluctuations Downstream

This last post of my series looks at fluctuations that originate downstream from your location. In other words, how to reduce fluctuations originating from your customer. Granted, this often is the most difficult one, as you usually have not so much influence over your customers (unless you have a monopoly). Let’s have a look.

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Reducing Fluctuations Upstream

This post will list a number of tools that can help to reduce fluctuations. They can reduce fluctuations in the material flow, including its inventories and the durations and lead times. Since reducing fluctuations (mura) is an underlying important idea throughout lean manufacturing, a lot of tools can help. And, depending on how you interpret tools, this list is not even complete.

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Structure for Reducing Fluctuations

This post looks at how to reduce fluctuations (mura) in manufacturing. It is a continuation of the previous post that looked at why fluctuations are so bad. Be warned, tackling fluctuations is often a tedious task that never ends, but it one of the important fundamentals for lean manufacturing. After all, the more stable a system runs, the more efficient it is. Leveling is one major method to reduce fluctuations that focuses on the production schedule. Line balancing is another one that focuses on the work content. 

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Why Are Fluctuations So Bad?

Fluctuations are bad for manufacturing. In lean, unevenness is one of the three evils, besides waste and overburden. In this post I will give you an introduction to fluctuations. One option to handle fluctuations is decoupling, but this addresses only the symptoms and not the cure. In my next post I will show you how to actually reduce fluctuations.

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