Do you need to balance your production line?

Line balancing is a technique used in manufacturing to remove bottlenecks and better utilize capacity by level-loading work across all processes in a value stream.  To ‘balance’ the value stream, production planners will compare the flow or cycle time for each process to the takt time and architect the process to ensure that the cycle time is less than the takt time. 

Takt time is a mathematical tool and is representative of the demand interval; it is the inverse of the arrival rate for demand.  If demand is for 6 per hour and demand arrived in an even fashion, a request would occur every 10 minutes.  To meet the pace of this demand, the process must be able to complete more than 6 items per hour.  If the flow or cycle time is larger than the takt time, processes will be divided into shorter tasks or batch processing and/or multiple workstations will be used to increase the throughput.  It is worth noting that the flow time should be less than the takt time; if they are equal, there is no buffer to offset the impact of variability in the pace of arriving demand or processing times.  Alternatively, the flow time should not be significantly less than takt time as this will lead to underutilized capacity.

When performing line balancing exercises, software tools can be used to ease the burden of calculation and accelerate the planning process.  LeanView, Bluespring’s Visio add-in for value stream mapping and analysis, provides a preconfigured report that includes a takt analysis worksheet.  In this worksheet, tabular data and graphs allow a quick assessment of value stream capability to meet demand.  What-if analysis can be performed within the worksheet to see the impact of changes in batch size and or the number of work stations without updating the value stream drawing itself; once the ideal scenario has been determined, the new value stream capacity plan can be quickly captured and socialized.

To see how Bluespring can help you with your Lean process improvement initiative, contact us for a demonstration.  To obtain a LeanView trial, go to www.bluespring.com/free-trial

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About Bluespring

Bluespring is a software development arm of Ascendum Solutions with a singular focus on helping organizations make work flow in Microsoft SharePoint.  We provide software and services that boost an organizations use of SharePoint to get critical information to the right people at the right time ... Read More

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