Line Balancing Part 5 – Balancing Using Paper

The previous four posts in this series for line balancing all looked at how to prepare the data and do some initial calculations. You could balance the line using a computer or – much better – do it using paper. In this fifth post, we now actually start to balance the line though shifting around small pieces of paper. In the next post I will show you some important tricks, and also how to do it on a computer (bah!).

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Line Balancing Part 4 – OEE Usage and Flexibility

Hands togetherIn the previous post we looked at the potential problems when using an OEE for line balancing. Now, in the fourth post on line balancing, we actually use the OEE to create target cycle times (or, alternatively, a target line takt) for our system before we start balancing the system in the next post.

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Line Balancing Part 3 – OEE Caveats

Stacked handsWhen balancing a line, it is important to distinguish between idealized times without losses, and times that include all types of losses like breakdowns or missing material. The ratio between the ideal time and the real time is the OEE. This post looks at some of the problems that can happen with line balancing if an OEE is used incorrectly or differently, and is the third post on this series of line balancing. Once we have determined what OEE to use, we will look at how to use the OEE in line balancing in the next post.

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Line Balancing Part 2 – Duration of Tasks

Hands Pointing CircleIn our first post on line balancing, we looked at the tasks that must be included in the line. In this second post of this series on line balancing, we look at the durations for the individual tasks. Of particular interest are different strategies on how to balance a line if the tasks have different durations for different products. A second consideration is if the equipment is already available or is still to be purchased (and hence can be customized more). The next post will look at more details of the losses (i.e., the OEE).

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Line Balancing Part 1 – Data Overview

Hands CircleBalancing the workload in a manufacturing system helps greatly in improving performance. Most importantly, it reduces unevenness (mura) due to different workloads. This in turn will reduce wasted waiting time (muda) for those with too little work, and overburden (muri) for those with too much. Additionally, I usually find it to be one of the easier aspects of lean manufacturing, since the new standard can simply be enforced through the layout of the machines. This post looks at data preparation, especially the customer takt and the list of tasks. It will be the first in a long series of posts on line balancing. The next post will look at the durations needed for the tasks.

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Taiichi Ohno’s Chalk Circle

Chalk CircleOne of the famous teaching methods by Taiichi Ohno is the chalk circle. The method itself is simple. A circle is drawn on the shop floor near a point of interest. A disciple is put in the circle and told not to leave it until he is picked up again by the teacher.

In this post I will explain a bit about the chalk circle, how to use it for teaching, and how to use it for yourself.

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How to Use an Andon – and How Not To

One Station Andon CordIn my last post, All About Andon, I detailed how the mechanical side of an Andon signaling system works, including Andon cords, buttons, and boards. In the Western world, the mechanical side of an Andon system usually works pretty well. However, in most cases, the usage of the Andon is poor to nonexistent. Hence, in this post I tell you how to actually work with an Andon, and then I will give you a rant why  companies so often mess it up!

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Visualize Your System – Overview of Diagrams in Manufacturing

Manufacturing Structure Visualization MethodsOrganizing your manufacturing system is one of the keys to success in manufacturing. There are different tools available, although I have the feeling they are often mashed together or confused. Time for a structured overview of the different manufacturing diagrams available, with recommendations. The following post does not give a full explanation on how these visualizations work. Instead, I want to give you a summary of what is out there, so you can pick the right tool to improve your system.

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