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Flow manufacturing – How does it work?
By linking and synchronising the output of each Process with the next, flow Manufacturing shrinks lead-times down from weeks or days to work content times of hours or minutes.
Traditional batch-and-queue, push production is invariably driven to an inherently inaccurate internal forecast. What gets planned often doesn’t happen.
Flow Manufacturing is driven by actual customer demand. Parts and materials flow seamlessly through the production process. What gets planned actually happens and meets or exceeds customer expectations.
The flow tool-set used is rather like a set of chess pieces. Each one is applied or moved in a defined way, but the variety of applications is infinite. They’ve been applied successfully from Pharmaceuticals to Nuclear Submarines.
Not only does this boost customer satisfaction through faster fulfilment and better on-time delivery, it releases cash from Working Capital embedded in “redundant” inventory.
Manufacturers have grappled with the same challenges for decades:
- How to respond faster to customer demand and keep down costs and prices?
- How to meet rising global expectations for faster delivery of more customised products?
- How to release cash from the business to help fund the growth, expansion and innovation?
Typical answers focus on three areas: improve forecasting, increase work in progress and finished inventories, and improve distribution channel efficiency.
But as we know, each of these soon reach their limits.
- Forecasts are inherently inaccurate, which often means having too much of what is not needed and not enough of what is needed when the customer needs it.
- More inventory can embed quite large quantities of cash in Working Capital, adding to financing, storage and handling costs, while risking obsolescence and write-offs.
- Distribution channels will continue to improve of course, but so will the competition’s.
And therein lies the need for flow
Our founder was a Nobel Prize nominated Laureate in Economics for Working Capital Management through faster response to customer orders. To know more on flow and its origins in Demand Flow Technology (DFT) follow the link:
Read more about the benefits of flow
Oh, and don’t miss the 5-minute interactive video that explains it for you here.
Get the pdf sheet explaining Lean Vs Flow