Building the most fluid production line has been the goal of manufacturers since time in memoriam. In the modern global economy, where the notion of time has vanished leaving only “now”, success is measure by speed. Depending upon your product, geography even doesn’t make that much of a difference anymore. Transportation and on-shore production have been practically elevated to the level of business arts. To keep the pace, manufacturers must remain moving, and produce quality goods while in motion.
One of the best fitting models for producers today is cell-system manufacturing. Efficient and completely scalable, cell-system manufacturing is an efficient means to provide a continuous flow of produced quality goods as individual pieces, and to have those items continuously moving off the production line and in route to the customer. Also referred to as one-piece flow production, the core value of the model is the concept of motion—motion of materials, motion of parts/assemblies, motion of personnel, and the motion of finished goods out of the plant.
The cell-system facilitates one-piece flow production through having everything that is needed for production within easy reach, and ensuring that each assembly step is completed before the part is moved along to the next.
A key concept behind one-piece flow production is the reduction errors and waste—lean tasking that imbues the most rapid pacing of production. With single pieces flowing off the line, quality is a much easier matter. As well, raw material, parts, and assemblies are delivered rapidly through the shop, giving operators the components the need in order to quickly produce goods within the flow. When incorporated into repetitive process production, the one-piece flow method provides continuous output, improved quality, and enhanced bottom-line profits without the need for enlarging production capacity or staff.
In a world of instant communication that never sleeps (as least, it seems, your competitors never sleep), one-piece flow production within the cell-system adjusts rapidly to customer demands and shortened lead times better than large batch production operations where delays are inherent as parts move slowly through the system.
Again, the key difference between traditional large batch and one-piece flow production technique is that of motion. When products move continuously through the cell, there is the desired tendency for processes to overlap, thereby inherently increasing the speed of production while also maintaining high levels of quality.
Of course, there is a threshold at which optimum speed and quality reach equilibrium, and to force the issue beyond this threshold would be dangerous relative customer satisfaction. Still, cell-system manufacturing can be of great help while working in one-piece flow production.