We’ve all heard about the importance of focusing on one task at a time.
Take that idea, apply it to manufacturing, and you have the concept of one piece flow.
The concept is simple in that you have to limit yourself to working on one item at a time (you only ever have one WIP item). By doing this you can save time and money, as work is performed faster and any space you use is highly optimized.
In fact, it’s the very same concept that Toyota used to reduce the time taken to pack boxes in to help families hit by Hurricane Sandy by 94%. In total, the aid workers were able to feed 400 more families in less than half the time.
However, there are a few vital things that you need to be careful of when applying one piece (or “continuous”) flow. It’s not a miracle cure, and while it can be used outside of an assembly line, there are a few practical elements which can’t be ignored.
So, today I’ll be diving into:
- What one piece flow is
- The advantages and disadvantages
- How to implement it
- Using one piece flow in any area of your business
- The problems of theory vs practical effects
Let’s get started.